by JACK NIXON
ONE of the longest established clubs in the northeast of Scotland is poised to go back into the national leagues, but must first get over this weekend’s disappointment at missing out on an opportunity to book a BT Cup Finals Day appearance at Murrayfield.
Gordonians, who currently lead BT Caledonia League Division 1, lost out to Murrayfield Wanderers in the semi-final stage of the National Shield at the weekend, but have the chance of almost immediate consolation this coming Saturday when they meet second placed Caithness on league business. A win for the Aberdeen side would secure a place in BT National League 3.
Club president Jim Sugden admitted to being gutted after Saturday’s last minute 29-26 defeat at home to the capital side, but insisted that the club will not let that set-back knock them off track during the remainder of the season.
“It was a gut wrenching moment for us. We had trailed 22-14 at half time, but battled back to lead 26-22 going into the last play of the game. But now that we have had a day or two to get over it, we are gearing up for our top of the table clash with Caithness. Having two big weekends on the trot is great for the club,” he says.
Big occasions are, in fact, nothing new to the Aberdeen club founded in 1904-05 for the former pupils of Robert Gordon’s College. They have produced seven internationalists over the years, including most recently scrum-half Chris Cusiter, who also captained Scotland – but it was the club’s first ever game in the top flight at the start of the 1980-81 season which still most excites the memories of supporters.
When Hawick, arguably the best club side to grace the Scottish game, arrived at Seafield, few in the game gave the northerners, led by Chris Snape, a cat in hell’s chance – and yet by the end of the afternoon, the Borders side had been beaten 26-13 on a magical day recalls Snape, who had represented the Barbarians against the East Midlands the year before.
“We were a good team, all at the peak of our careers. It was a great win. I don’t think Hawick supporters could believe it happened. Unfortunately we were unable to continue the successful run the following season due to injuries and retirement, but the occasion will live on in the memory of the 1,500 who attended the game. I just hope there will be a good turnout for this Saturday’s game against Caithness,” says Snape.
The club has, in fact, quite literally moved on, as they now play at the state of the art ground at Countesswells, adjudged by many to be one of the best playing pitches in the country with a 600 seater stand to match.
“It is likely to be filled for another big game for the club. Ironically, Caithness play in a green strip, just like Hawick, so perhaps the guys will be inspired, as the team of 80-81 were,” says Sugden.
Should the home team fail to win on Saturday, they will have two more chances to get the five points required to gain promotion against Alloa and Dunfermline.
Image courtesy: Gordonians RFC
In 1980-81, Hawick played very few games requiring overnight stays (mostly friendlies against top English teams like Northampton). The Gordonian fixture was the only league game that merited a stop-over, as the other teams were based in the Central Belt cities or The Borders and the road network in the North was not as it is now. Rumour has it, that a number of their star players (all amateurs at that time) fully enjoyed the hospitality of a number of the Granite City’s venues late into the Friday night and took to the park (Seafield)on that day just a little under the weather. That said, Gordonians played terrifically well, roared on by one of the largest club game crowds ever seen in the City and led by example by an inspirational captain, Chris Snape. Take nothing away from the home side. They had their glory day! Let this be a warning to “The Greens” of Caithness, if they are contemplating arriving on the Friday, not to repeat the mistake made by their illustrious predecessors and not to be tempted by the bright lights and bars of the “Energy Capital of Europe” prior to the kick-off!!