‘A fond farewell to Murrayfield, 69 years after my first visit’

Jack Nixon made the trip from Aberdeen for Silver Saturday, some 69 years after his first visit to the national stadium

Jack Nixon, with grandson Finn, had an emotional trip to Murrayfield for Silver Saturday. Image: Fiona Scott
Jack Nixon, with grandson Finn, had an emotional trip to Murrayfield for Silver Saturday. Image: Fiona Scott

AFTER 69 years of coming to Murrayfield, man and boy, the time came appropriately on Silver Saturday when I finally decided enough was enough. For while the spirit is still willing, my old knees have had their day, protesting at the very notion of one more climb to the press box at HQ.

The occasion was full of the emotions which I have encountered since first making my way to the national stadium as 13-year-old in March 1954, experiencing the joys of a day outing on the Waverley Line with fellow Borderers. The scoreline against a very good English side, led by one Tug Wilson was irrelevant, as in those days beating the Auld Enemy was a rarity. Indeed, beating anyone was the exception at a time when Scotland were in the midst of a barren four year run in which they never won a game.

Visits to Murrayfield thereafter become regular events, enabling me to see the legendary All Blacks, including the infamous sending off of there giant lock Colin Meads in 1967.


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10 takeaways from Silver Saturday


I was also there to see Jimmy Maxwell of my own club Langholm get his one and only cap in a blizzard against Ireland in 1957, the age of one cap wonders.

Of course, being present at the winning two Grand Slams in 1984 and 1990 was very special, although just being there was good enough for me in those early days.

I little thought that only 14 years after my first visit, I would be chatting to Hawick legend Bill McLaren on the back pitches during a Friday game before a Welsh game, and in my capacity as match secretary of the newly formed Livingston club, persuading him to be an Honorary President. To my delight he accepted but three days later had to decline the position at the “request” of the SRU who deemed it was not possible for him to hold office at an amateur club by virtue of him being a professional journalist. By way of compensation Bill sent me a cheque.

But it was only after I retired from a career in education that I became the Aberdeen Press and Journal’s cricket and rugby correspondent in 1997, leading to paid trips to HQ and occasionally further afield, including Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium, but more importantly retaining my close links to the club game. The fact of having visited and reported from over 50 grounds in Scotland bearing testimony to this commitment to the game.

My first trip to Murrayfield in a professional capacity was to cover the district games in 1997 when no less a person and a legend of the press box than Norman Mair took this “cub” reporter under his wing, interviewing Ian Rankin, the then head coach of the North Midlands.

All these memories coursed my system on Silver Saturday but even as I reminisced, I was creating another memory, as my grandson Finn was getting his first taste of reporting club rugby at Murrayfield. He was working for the Oban Times, while I was bowing out on my last assignment before retiring from the Press and Journal.

A rare but wonderful experience and while I didn’t expect any fuss, that’s exactly what I did get, right from the moment I arrived at the accreditation centre to collect my press pass, I was ushered into a wheelchair by Leah who was on duty and whisked round to the Dam Health Stadium.

Even then it was not finished as my old friend from The Scotsman, Graham Law, now with the SR,  presented me with a Scottish jersey, signed by the current Scotland team.

I could not have been prouder, as I finished my stint of reporting on the all Caley clash between Kinloss Eagles and Panmure, leaving Finn to report on the final of the Woman’s Plate in which Oban Lorne and Grangemouth Stags were featuring.

As I cruised in my taxi back down Haymarket Terrace – where I had once been a student in digs in the early 1960s paying £4 .10 shillings per week – to catch my train back to Aberdeen, I reflected it had been a long but worthwhile journey.

But some things never change, as supporters of Hawick will agree, having been the first winners of the Scottish Cup back in 1996, and here they were again, winning in 2023.


10 takeaways from Silver Saturday

About Jack Nixon 74 Articles
Jack is a Borderer, born in Langholm, and a graduate of Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh. He was a founder member of Livingston Rugby Club in 1968 and has been rugby correspondent for the Aberdeen Press and Journal since 1997. He has been going to Murrayfield man and boy since 1954!

9 Comments

  1. A great photograph to go with all the memories with some names from the past, what a pleasure it would be to be in your presence and listen to the myriad of stories you no doubt could relate of times past and the characters you met over a couple of beers. All the best.

  2. Jack – what a lovely article and so good that you were attending Murrayfield for Silver Saturday with your grandson. Your enjoyment and constant encouragement of grassroots rugby has been excellent and it was so good to catch up with you at Livingston’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Best wishes on your retirement!

  3. Jack Nixon a true old-fashioned gentleman. Enjoy your retirement, Jack, may it be long and happy.

    10
  4. Superb Mr Nixon. A huge amount given to the game over the years and I wish you a very happy retirement

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