A View from Memorial Bank – The Coronavirus Crisis: 1.5.20.

What a Cup Final – Thursday 28th April 1988

This glorious spell of dry sunny spring weather has been briefly interrupted by a drop of rain, making the Malleny pitches look greener than ever. Almost to the day 32 years ago, the weather pattern was very similar but the pitch at Meggetland, devoid of much grass, particularly in front of the old stand had dried to concrete and this produced clouds of dust as the opposing teams charged up and down. It was a bright Thursday evening and the occasion was the Final of the prestigious Wiggins-Teape Trophy in front of a huge crowd, estimated to be between two and three thousand spectators.

Boroughmuir, having beaten Stewart’s/Melville and then Corstorphine in the previous 1986 and 1987 Finals were going for a hat-trick of wins. They had overcome Edinburgh Accies at the semi-final stage the previous week, 17 pts to 9 pts, and now their opponents were the local team making all the headlines, Currie RFC. The Malleny outfit, under the guidance of Head Coach Graham Hogg and Captain Peter Farrar had rapidly risen through the National Leagues and were sitting high in Division 2. They had caused something of a shock in their semi-final by defeating Heriot’s, 25 pts to 12 pts, and the big Meggetland crowd was anticipating another possible upset.

The match did not disappoint. The rip-roaring Final was exciting end-to-end stuff with Currie always looking dangerous and nosing ahead in the second half. ‘Muir were experienced and could make the most of any opportunity, which they eventually did, well into the final quarter. As the minutes ticked down it was all Currie; waves of attacking play never moved from the ‘Muir 22. They even went over the line, but the ball was held up and the final whistle brought relief for Boroughmuir and disappointment for the Currie team and their supporters. As the newspapers reported the next day – it was very close, but this display of top class rugby proves that Currie can certainly live with the ‘Big Boys’: not bad for a Club that had borrowed jerseys from Boroughmuir less than 20 years ago so that they could fulfil their very first rugby fixture.

The Currie Team on 28. 4. 1988. – 15 B. Reekie, 14 S. Tidy, 13 A. Donaldson, 12 B Rogers, 11 C. Smith, 10 J. Cockburn, 9 R Hurst. 8 E. Stewart, 7 A. Elms, 6 I. Russell, 5 D. Peacock, 4 D Boyle, 3 G. Hurst, 2 P. Farrar, 1 J. Henderson.                         Referee J. M. Fleming.

Spectator crowds back in 1980s/90s were good, and to a certain extent Currie and some other clubs can still boast of a healthy following. Our Murrayfield leaders seem to be spending a lot of time and effort recruiting and coaching players away from the club scene: perhaps they should be exerting more energy towards spectators and getting people to watch local rugby stars on a Saturday afternoon. At present we wonder when any crowds will be back to watch rugby? Sports organisations are meeting with the Scottish Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick, next week to discuss proactive scenarios regarding a sensible return to competition. No doubt the people at this meeting will mainly be concerned with professional sport as they fathom ways of paying the bills, with their coffers draining rapidly. Predictions seem to imply that no large gatherings will be allowed until the autumn, or indeed longer, before we start playing again. The question they will all be asking is how will my organisation survive? Even if a small club has operated with no bar or function room, will the membership subscriptions, sponsorship money from a local benefactor and other avenues of income continue without any club matches? In these worrying times many clubs will struggle to survive, and yet we hear of more players being added to a hefty SRU payroll; cutting your garment according to the cloth? The Union have allocated money to a ‘Clubs Hardship Fund’ but this looks like peanuts compared with what may be needed to keep the club game afloat. Without a strong club structure, you will be looking at a rather wobbly professional scene. In these anxious times I hope a visionary group at Murrayfield are thinking about a frugal future.   I.J.S – 1.5.20.