PERHAPS those of us who write about the game of rugby, instead of focusing on the so called top end of the sport, might be better employed casting our net further afield to take in the grassroots just now and again.
Such an opportunity came my way last Saturday when on a slow day in the North East none of the clubs who would normally attract my attention were playing at home.
Aberdeen Grammar were in the Borders on painful National League One business, while Gordonians were filling their boots in Forfar against Strathmore in National League Three.
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That was the month that was: September 2022
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Having just recovered from Covid, I didn’t dare risk a trip to Inverness or Kirkwall for either Highland’s game against Bigger in National One or Orkney’s game in National Three with West of Scotland.
That left me with a number of choices in the Caledonia Leagues, including the local derby clash at Woodside where Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen Wanderers were meeting in Caley Division One. Alternatively, I could have gone to anyone of four games in Caley Two North which over the afternoon clocked up the astonishing total of 332 points at an average of 42 per team – great entertainment, even if defending was apparently optional in all four games.
I was equally attracted to the top of the table clash in Caley North Division Three at Inverurie where leaders Garioch were locking horns with second placed Dyce.
In the event, I opted to go to Aberdeen University Medics’ game against Fraserburgh at Kings College, Aberdeen in that same division. It proved to be an inspired choice as the talented students who had just come off the back of two narrow defeats away to Garioch and Dyce were keen to get their season up and running with a win, while Fraserburgh were having their first outing of the season.
The setting was fantastic, under the shadow of the famous Kings College, while the weather was near perfect on an early autumn afternoon, making for a good game.
My expectations of a quality game were not high, but I was pleasantly surprised. For starters, both teams had a full complement of replacements, there was a vociferous but fair minded home support, while the referee who come all the way from Elgin had an excellent game, helped greatly by the good discipline exhibited by both teams.
It was an excellent contest with Fraserburgh demonstrating a keenness to get their campaign off to a sound start. But this is an accomplished Medics team who like to run the ball and may yet feature in the title race, and they were three tries up and 19-0 to the good at half time, although the Brochers did create chances.
Not surprisingly, Fraserburgh tired in the second half, as the Medics upped the pace to run out 39-0 winners.
My only regret of the afternoon was that the Aberdeenshire visitors did not manage to score a point their efforts deserved, but that is something I’m sure they will rectify in their next game at home to Dyce.
I came away from the match with mixed feelings, including pleased to have taken the occasion in, while sad that my reporting duties will not permit me more regular visits to Caley League games.
On Saturday it’s off to Rubislaw to see if Aberdeen Grammar can register their first win of the season when they meet Watsonians, and get themselves in shape for their big derby game with Highland on November 19th, but more of that nearer the time.
In the meantime I am just so pleased to have made the acquaintance of the Medics and Fraserburgh. I can recommend the fare to one and all, not least my fellow writers.
good report Jack. Your perception of the value of. The lower levelisa great encouragement to those who value rugby as it should be .
I do not know where we would have been without your input
All these years. Keep it up,
Best of wishes,
Nice piece Jack. Great to get some coverage of the lower leagues.
The soul of the game indeed. Guys enjoying playing with pals and switching off from work pressures with some rugged exercise. Good piece Jack, thanks.
You got it one Moody Bkue
Good report Jack and encouraging that the lower clubs still have a voice through you!
Isn’t that your job, too Bob Richmond?
Medics captain here, spoke to Jack briefly before the game. We were delighted to have him down watching and getting a bit of coverage for our league. Thanks very much for covering it and hopefully you’ll find yourself at a loose end again sometime this season
Hi Cameron, Good of you to get in touch. I meant to say cheerio on Saturday but you were all pretty involved in what was a good game. Good luck for the rest of the season .
Excellent piece Bro. Nixon, obviously a good day out.
Great minds think alike – I was going to go to Broomfield on Saturday, for Cumnock v Carrick in West Division One, but, when the rain started I decided to return home straight after my Covid/’Flu booster. This meant an afternoon of televised rugby – Heriot’s v Bulls, a wee bit of Stormers v Edinburgh then Ospreys v Glasgow.
As regards the last game – I’ve spent a better nicht wi’ the tithache. Between bent Welsh ARs and myopic Welsh colour commentators – it was worse than watching or listening to a game involving one half of the Old Firm on BBC Shortbread.
Thanks Matt, Always good to get back to the grassroots. Jack