THE SASHING CEREMONY
Sunday 23rd July 2023
The Sashing Ceremony will take place on the banks of the River Esk at 13:00pm following the Kirkin’. This ceremony is still one of the most picturesque and poignant events of the Musselburgh Festival and sees the Honest Lad and Honest Lass being presented with their emblems of office. This year the Honest Lad and Honest Lass will be sashed by Billy Brown, a well kent face throughout Musselburgh.
The Burgh Flag will be presented to the Honest Lad by our Honorary Provost. They will task the Honest Lad to carry the standard around the boundaries of our Town returning it “unsullied and unstained” at the end of the Festival Saturday ride on 29th July. The Honest Lass will be presented with the jewelled riding crop.
Our Sasher for 2023 is Billy Brown.
Billy was born 20 December 1950 and grew up round the corner from Olivebank, and his first school, Campie peeks its head up over the boundary wall.
It was here where, with his Grandfather, Billy first watched the game that has occupied many of his subsequent hopes and dreams. It was where he ended his football playing career and where he learned his trade as a manager. It is also where his parents’ ashes are scattered.
Musselburgh is his town; it has always been and always will be. Having only been away from the Toun about six years his entire life, to play for Hull straight from school and then when as an assistant manager at Bradford.
Billy watched Musselburgh alongside his Grandfather from a very young age where he fondly remembers pretending to pick the Musselburgh team, something that became true.
If Tottenham Hotspur legend John White, who grew up in the same scheme as Brown, provided the inspiration for him to make it as a player, it was Musselburgh Athletic who fashioned his management dreams.
His Grandfather had passed away by the time Billy returned to Olivebank first as a player and then as a manager. Having had to quit the top level due to a cruciate injury, he embarked on a coaching career with Newtongrange Star before he got the call to return home.
Billy describes this as a pull on the heart strings, to come back and become the manager of Musselburgh. Back then he never thought he would go on to achieve what he has done.
He spent almost a decade at the club and his experience was priceless.
In management terms he was brought up in a hard way but definitely it’s the best way. Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown never went into management courses like they do now. If they went to Musselburgh Athletic or Gala Fairydean, where Jim was in the early days, for six months they would learn what it’s really about. Billy describes this induction as why him and Jim lasted as long as they did.
When you are manager of your home-town team, the difference between victory and defeat is being able to walk down the street without being peppered with advice or criticism or being able to head to the local for a pint without taking abuse. Being heckled from the terracing by people you went to school with certainly helps with thickening the skin.
The ascent has been speedy since those days but no matter where Brown went, he never forgot where he came from. “To go from being the manager of Musselburgh Athletic in 1988 to being in the premiership in England in 2000, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, it’s amazing. We won the Scottish Cup with Hearts just ten years after I left Musselburgh. Just shows you it can be done.”
Billy looks back at his involvement at his home club as different. “My Mother used to wash the strips and my Dad helped her do the canteen and Anne (Billys Wife), helped and Stuart and Linsey (his children) would come and help me weed the terracing, so it was a lot more than just a coaching job.”
Billy has had an illustrious career with the unusual record of being the assistant manager at both Hearts and Hibernian, but nothing gives him greater pleasure than volunteering with the many Musselburgh Windsor teams currently operating.
Sports are an integral part of Festival week, with the spoil of riches Musselburgh has produced over the years being celebrated through various competitions.
The Festival 5-a-side competition played in honour of the late great John White has been won by Hearts, Hibs, Rangers and Raith Rovers amongst many more professional teams whilst the players compete for the honour of the Willie Ormond player of the tournament trophy. Whilst Billy will be immersed in the Sashing Ceremony of Festival Week 2023 he will continue to have one eye on the scores during our Festival Fives.
We Congratulate Billy on being the Sasher for 2023 and wish him and his family a wonderful Festival Week.