JACK NIXON @ James Ramsay Park
WHEN the idea of starting a rugby club in the North-East fishing town of Fraserburgh was first talked about in 2014, there was a cynical attitude prevailing among the soccer orientated sports community who deemed the introduction of the oval ball game as doomed to failure.
There was even doubts expressed among the rugby fraternity, after all the two existing clubs in the area, Banff and Peterhead, were struggling to assert themselves in the Caledonia leagues. It was argued that a third club would only serve to dilute further limited player resources. There overall feeling was that there were already too many clubs in the Aberdeen area, as a consequence of the oil industry arriving in the early 1970’s, but then going into decline in recent years.
Undeterred, Dean Underwood and Andy Homme Stott took it upon themselves to realise their dream of playing rugby less than 400 yards from the home of Highland League football team Fraserburgh at the James Ramsay Park in the town.
”The original idea was to provide playing opportunities for youngsters, the formation of a senior club came a little later, but we soon saw the potential of a league team after a number of players came forward. We briefly toyed with the idea of linking up with nearby Peterhead who were formed in 1984, but the very notion of having a liaison with a town who are traditionally deadly rivals of Fraserburgh was deemed a no go area for us,” said Underwood, the president and hooker of the club.
”We were, however, asked to put in writing a promise not to poach any of its players. In fairness, we have rubbed along rather well with them, though the games against them are pretty fierce affairs,” he added.
The good relationship enjoyed with the Blue Toon club was confirmed by former Peterhead president Neil Davidson.
”Fraserburgh have brought a new dimension to the local game, and have done remarkably well since coming into existence as a playing force in September 2014. Our games against them are certainly competitive,” he said after watching his side lose its first game against Fraserburgh in three seasons.
The 20-12 home win for ‘The Brochers’ was a no-holds-barred clash, but generally battled out in the best spirit of the game; and encouragingly for administrators of the club game was played in front of big, appreciative home crowd. Tom Morgan scored two tries, while Chris Arnott and Stuart Hackett also dotted down for the victors.
Mike Monro, the SRU representative for Caledonia region, recognised the progress the club has made during the last three years.
”The performance of Fraserburgh Rugby Club this season has been a highlight for me as a council member. They have not only fufilled every fixture, but won six games, finishing above their biggest rivals Peterhead, which must have been a great thrill for president Dean Underwood and his players. I’m sure the determination they have displayed to date will continue in the same vein,” he said.
The aspiring club currently has a squad of over 20 players with an average age of 28. They are looking forward to another season in BT Caledonia League Division 3 North, boosted by a best ever finish of seventh in the league, and encouraged by the fact they have never lost a player to a rival club – all making for good, social occasions after matches at their base in the Cheers Bar and Tavern in the centre of the town.
”Hopefully our success story is set to run and run, thanks to the commitment of the guys, the hard working committee, our loyal supporters, and the management at Cheers. We have also been encouraged by the coverage and support we get in the local paper, the Fraserburgh Herald, and the Aberdeen Press and Journal, which has followed our progress since we started playing. I am very proud of all we have achieved as one of the few clubs in the sport to be formed this century,” said Underwood.