A View from Memorial Bank – Malleny Park

As the Club’s Ground Convener, I’m fortunate to live only a short distance from the pitches, and with the present Coronavirus lock-down, my daily exercise can include a walk around Malleny Park, mainly to check that no vandalism or antisocial behaviour has occurred. On a warm spring day, it is a pleasure to sit on Grant Langland’s seat, at the top of Memorial Bank, to take in the view and the memories associated with it. Although it’s sad that there will be no prospect of any rugby for the foreseeable future, the pitches are looking terrific, but there is always plenty of work required to keep them in good condition. Local farmers who are also Club members call it ‘gardening’ but looking after three pitches requires a little more than just mowing the front lawn! There are a number of club members involved with the upkeep, as well as the City of Edinburgh Council pitch marking team.

In the current circumstances I meet very few, if any people on my stroll; even the Water of Leith pathway only has a couple of joggers or the occasional cyclist and dog walker. In the morning I can be greeted by a couple of roe deer who soon vacate the wooded area behind the stand and head for the hills above the sports fields with the speed and agility that any aspiring full-back or wing would envy. If it’s an evening stroll a badger may rumble across the far end of the main pitch, like a demented prop trundling to the next breakdown. Fortunately, props don’t stop on their way to a scrum and start digging up the pitch for worms, as the fellow in the black and white jersey sometimes does; thankfully, with the warmer weather he too will be heading to the isolated pastures and cornfields in the Pentlands. One local who always sees me coming is our resident Buzzard. He soars high, screeches and heads away looking for his next meal!

Over the past decade Currie Chieftains have spent a lot of time, effort and money improving the grounds at Malleny Park, with little help from other organisations who also use the facilities. The condition of the car park, despite the Club constantly filling the potholes, plus the amount of rubbish left by children and people who should know better is staggering; every week our team of volunteers fill a couple of bins with waste paper, bottles and plastic. When we move away from the current crisis many clubs and their members may not have the financial resources to access community sports club programmes; perhaps Councils should take the voluntary services that sports clubs deliver into account when charging them for the use of the facilities under Council control? Undoubtedly when the Covid-19 pandemic is over, we will all be in a different place. Predictions now suggest that the autumn will be the earliest that some sort of normality returns, and it is clear that all sports clubs will have to address the way that they operate, particularly in the short term. This will not only apply to local community clubs; the larger professional outfits will also have to take stock, as they too will need time to get back on track financially. Rugby clubs below the elite professional level will be looking to the lead body for reasonable annual financial support if they are to remain viable and provide future players for the professional game; perhaps this is something that will be sorted out once the SRU Governance debate has concluded?

In the past, no matter what the sport, a strong league structure has been built on merit, and the inevitable promotion or relegation that goes with this, but in the difficult times that lie ahead, is it financially viable to have teams in lower leagues travelling the length and breath of the country in order to fulfil fixtures? Perhaps this is another issue that will be considered by those in charge. Local supporters want to see local players in their team; this interest will get spectators back on the touchline and watching rugby.

Fergus Scott, Scott Gammy, Grant Williamson, Fraser Gaffney and their support team of Chieftains girls and boys have to be congratulated on the splendid video which has been posted on the Club website. The video provides a range of exercises and ball skills that can be practiced at home while the family is observing self-isolation. Well done to all involved.                                                         I.J.S – 27.3.20.