A View from Memorial Bank, Malleny Park – Covid-19 Lockdown: April 2020.

A further three weeks of lockdown has now been imposed by the Government, so what happens after this? Regarding the completion of any league programmes and cup matches for winter sports teams, they will be taking place during the summer time, when the weather is generally more pleasant than a cold wet winter’s day. The playing surface may be a little harder, but it should be green and not a dark muddy morass. Many who have been advocating summer rugby and football will think that their prayers have been answered, but it will only be the professional competitions that benefit.

In many respects summer club rugby would be relished by a lot of people as the better playing conditions would almost certainly lead to more exciting open rugby, but the club season has been declared null and void, so it will not happen. At the grassroots end of the rugby pyramid, clubs and those who look after sports fields do not generally have the resources to bring their pitches up to the standard of professional outfits. After a very wet winter, and when the mud has dried, you can still be left with a hard brown patch as all the grass has been obliterated, and grass will not grow if there is nothing there to grow! Reseeding is a costly business and along with proper pitch maintenance, not enough attention is paid to the requirements of many overplayed sports fields. Some will remember the old BBC Match of the Day programmes some 30 years ago, when even the top professional clubs had poor pitches in wet weather, and it was difficult to distinguish the teams. This has now changed, and the playing surface for professional teams is only used for matches, and not for multiple games over a weekend or on several nights during the week for training! No wonder the green stuff does not recover on many municipal pitches.

The null and void declaration has upset some; Biggar are quite obviously aggrieved as they were well on their way to the Premiership. There are other teams in the lower leagues in a similar situation. One interesting suggestion that I recently read was to promote Biggar and one other club to make it a 12 team League. The 4 teams below Biggar would play off for the privilege of joining the Premiership. The same would happen for National League 2, making the top two Divisions 12 team Leagues. In this discussion, what the writer was promoting was a concentration of talented club sides which would stimulate interest and bring back the spectators. Below this level the District League competitions would also be enhanced with local Derby matches that give the better teams a chance of joining the Big League!

Thirty-five years ago, Currie were trying to get into the Big League as they climbed through the Divisions, but 1985 was a little special for a number of reasons. At the first meeting of the new committee after the AGM in June 1985, the newly elected President, Gordon Stewart, set out his plans. He had 2 main aims, promotion to National League Division 3, and to have a united, prosperous club. On the front cover of the Currugan, the Currie RFC newsletter, published just before the start of the new season, there were a couple of significant announcements – ‘ We recently submitted a short history of the Club to the SRU for the new museum at Murrayfield and stated that we intend to continue with the successes our brief traditions have secured. Under the leadership of Captain Peter Farrer and the guidance of Coach Graham Hogg, both newly appointed, I am confident the players will respond well and clinch promotion at the end of the league fixtures;’ and they did.

The article continued – ‘On the non-playing side, we intend to have a full social programme catering for all tastes, and I am sure that Ian Russell will welcome any advice and assistance you can give. Similarly, Tom Jones as House Convenor will be pleased to listen to suggestions and our Ladies Section who prepare after-match teas, ‘Sunday toasties’ and other Club catering needs will welcome any helpers. It is true that many hands make light work and in an organisation like ours, with 5 senior teams, 5 junior teams, plus house and bar responsibilities, we need everyone to help. Wishing you an enjoyable season’ – Gordon B Stewart. Times have changed since the Ladies Section did the catering, but after the Covid-19 lockdown we will need everyone’s help!                                                                   I.J.S – 17.4.20