Edinburgh launch 150th-anniversary celebrations

List of players to have represented the city since 1872 is now close to completion

Former and current Edinburgh captains Andy Irvine, Finlay Calder, Jamie Ritchie, John Douglas, Grant Gilchrist, Gavin Hastings and Mike Blair. Image: Craig Watson
Former and current Edinburgh captains Andy Irvine, Finlay Calder, Jamie Ritchie, John Douglas, Grant Gilchrist, Gavin Hastings and Mike Blair. Image: Craig Watson

EDINBURGH have begun the countdown to the 150th anniversary of their first match by revealing a history project which aims to record every single player to have represented the team in that century and a half.

The first ever match to be played by a team representing the capital was on 23 November 1872 against Glasgow – hence the name of the 1872 Cup, the trophy for which Edinburgh and the Warriors now compete annually. The venue was Burnbank Park in the Woodlands area of Glasgow, which has long since been built on.

EM Bannerman of Edinburgh Accies is the initial name on the list of those who have played for Edinburgh, on the grounds that alphabetically he was the first member of that 1872 team. Some 1300 players later, Sam Skinner became the most recent addition to that list when he made his debut off the bench against the Dragons last week.


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That first inter-city game was played several months before the founding of the Scottish Football Union, as the SRU was initially known. The present Edinburgh team is wholly owned by the national governing body, so some observers see the connection back to 1872 as tenuous. Nonetheless, the present management believe it is important to strengthen a sense of history for supporters and players alike.

“This is a project of pride and passion designed to help everyone associated with Edinburgh Rugby recognise and celebrate the contribution these players, their clubs and schools have made over the past century and a half, and better connect those throughout our history with those taking to the field today,” managing director Doug Struth said.

“We’ve always known and been proud of the many greats who have represented Edinburgh over the decades, but our ability to celebrate those years fully and develop a deeper sense of meaning or belonging through those eras has always been unfulfilled. It’s been a significant undertaking, with the information often hard to come by and even contradictory. However, we’re delighted we can recognise all those who have been part of Edinburgh Rugby for a century and a half, tell some of the great stories unearthed throughout this process and celebrate this amazing anniversary of the club and 1872 Cup.”

Between now and late November, Edinburgh will finalise the list of players before allocating a number to every one of the 1300-plus men to have turned out for the team. They already have a list of all known captains, which includes John Douglas, the oldest living skipper, along with other well-known names such as Andy Irvine, Finlay Calder and Gavin Hastings.

“I didn’t quite appreciate it was nearly 150 years, which is really something, and I started playing over 50 years ago myself,” Irvine said. “When you look at the tradition of Edinburgh, even back when we played, the inter-city match was a huge game. It was a huge honour to play and pull on the blue jersey of Edinburgh, especially as captain, and more so when you see the quality of Edinburgh captains throughout the years.

“I look back on many great memories with a great sense of pride. It’s a huge thing to play for your city and that’s why today I still love to come along to watch the Edinburgh pro side. There’s really that special feeling and special bond.”

The Warriors plan to acknowledge the anniversary nearer the time. Their list of players includes everyone to have played for the team since its formation as a professional side in 1996.

As usual, this season’s 1872 Cup games will be held over the festive period. The Warriors are at home to Edinburgh on Friday 23 December, then BT Murrayfield will be the venue for the return match seven days later.


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About Stuart Bathgate 1156 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

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