Care in the community – or should this be, who cares in the community?

Although there has not been much activity on the Malleny Pitches since mid-December, there are always plenty of jobs to ensure that the grounds are of the standard and quality required for top class sport. Unfortunately, these days the local authority can only provide a basic service for the Balerno High School sports fields; cutting the grass and marking the pitches; that is all they do. All the other work has to be done by volunteer helpers, and the Currie Chieftains are proud of the standards that they are setting for the benefit of the community.

It is disappointing that the City of Edinburgh Council’s elite sports organisation – ‘Edinburgh Leisure’ has not carried out any maintenance work on the Malleny 3G synthetic pitch since arrangements with the contractor came to an end during the summer. It is now six months without the plastic playing surface receiving any maintenance care, and some areas are beginning to show signs of compaction and excessive wear and tear. The eye-watering cost of this sports facility, for which Currie Rugby Club, and the local high school campaigned for years to have constructed, now appears to be the responsibility of a faceless organisation that operates from the depths of Edinburgh City Chambers. Apart from the school’s janitorial services doing their best to clear any litter from the 3G pitch, and a considerable amount accumulates, as residents in the area know, the expensive facility is mostly neglected and left unattended. The floodlights can remain on all night, the access road and car park has several dangerous cavernous pot-holes and there is no supervision of youngsters who rendezvous at the site, and do not engage with any sporting activity, but do get into all sorts of mischief.

It makes you wonder how committed politicians and lead body sports organisations are, when they promote exercise and team activities as being good for the Nation’s health and well-being, but they do very little to ensure that the facilities required are ‘fit-for-purpose.’ Apparently, community sports groups are also experiencing problems when trying to hire facilities controlled by Edinburgh Leisure; for a community service their satisfaction ratings are very low indeed.

Cream always rises to the top

Apart from the six or so professional Edinburgh and Glasgow players with Currie RFC connections, who took part in the first leg of the 1872 Cup at Murrayfield recently, there was another local lad making his debut at the National Rugby Stadium. Cameron Bogle was selected to take part in the traditional halftime goal-kicking competition. Coached by his ‘manager,’ dad Andy, the prodigy thumped the ball over the Murrayfield cross-bar to claim the winning prize – rumour is that this is a holiday in New Zealand, all expenses paid – by mum and dad!

Apart from the announcement of the SRU’s chosen coaches for the Super Six set up, there is still no information regarding any reorganised league structure for next season. The so-called forgotten four, plus the National League teams await the outcome of QC, Gavin MacColl’s survey. As happened with the last reorganisation of the leagues twenty or so years ago, the cream always rises to the top; the best in the club game did so then, and will continue to defy, no matter what those self-advised Murrayfield numpties try to impose.

There is no doubt that a semi-professional league will try to suck more and more money from their paymaster, the SRU, as they endeavour to meet the needs of their franchise contract and make ends meet. Any extra cash appears to be at the expense of the other clubs, who have already been told that they will not now need the same level of Murrayfield funding to operate! Ask any sports club treasurer how their organisation is going to survive, and the answer will contain a lot of ifs, buts and don’t knows. Despite the bright picture that has been painted by the Murrayfield machine, the facts are that fewer people are playing or watching rugby matches on a regular basis. International matches may, at last, be sell-outs, but the two professional teams are still not attracting spectators in sufficient numbers to be a sustainable enterprise. And as for the Super 6 teams; in most cases their match attendance figures are meagre, and it will take considerable time and effort to raise these. They may all have good ideas to increase their income, but so do many other sports organisations competing in the same market place. In five years, we could all be down the tubes, but will Murrayfield allow this to happen?

An Inspirational Example

It has been yet another year of turmoil for the Malleny club. The untimely death of Campbell Reynolds, the imposed chaos and disillusion caused by restructuring the leagues, and the imminent departure of our highly respected coach Ben Cairns. Like his predecessors, Ben is a Currie man to the core, and he has done tremendous work to keep the Chieftains at the top of the Premiership. Currie RFC has always been blessed with dedicated, talented, straight-thinking people both on and off the field of play, who have propelled the Chieftains to where they are today. It has never been easy, but in the past fifty years the committee, players and membership have set an inspirational example for other clubs to follow – from nowhere to the top of Scottish Club Rugby.

A Happy New Year to you all. I.J.S, 31.12.18.