North East update: clubs channel frustration into positive energy by helping their communities

Clubs from all over Scotland have taken to social media this week to offer up their services in support of the most vulnerable members of society

The Orkney team which picked up the club's 11th consecutive bonus-point win of the season against Dunfermline at the end of February. Image courtesy: Orkney Twitter feed
The Orkney team which picked up the club's 11th consecutive bonus-point win of the season against Dunfermline at the end of February. Image courtesy: Orkney Twitter feed

WHILE rugby clubs in the Caledonia region are reconciled to the fact that the there is little chance of any sport being played in the area, many are optimistically keeping their players on red alert.

Orkney, the runaway leaders in Caley Division One stand to lose most, being not only on the precipice of promotion into the National Leagues but also one game away from getting to the final of the National Shield which is due to be played at Murrayfield on April 25.

Garry Coltherd, the islanders’ president and coach, said: “We acknowledge it may be next season before we are cleared to play again, but then should there be any chance of a game later in the spring or summer, our players need to be prepared. We have accordingly asked the players to keep themselves fit in readiness for games”.

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Aberdeenshire, who have already been promoted from Caley Two North, also have a national semi-final on the horizon in the Bowl competition, which was due to be played at Woodside, which was scheduled to be played on 28th March, but has now been postponed until an as yet unspecified date.

“We need to keep the players in shape just in case a new date is sprung on us, but as we cannot run squad training, we are reliant on players training at home as individuals,” said head coach Barny Henderson. “It’s not an ideal arrangement, but these are not ideal circumstances.”

Ross Sutherland have taken the initiative to leave a bag of rugby balls outside the clubhouse, encouraging players to take one home to practise their skills.

But while officials all over the area are dreaming  up initiatives to keep their players in training and to meet mounting bills without anticipated match-day income, players from a number of clubs are looking to help the communities in which they play to cope with the issues brought on by the virus.

The three most senior clubs in the area in Aberdeen Grammar, Gordonians and Highland all have player led schemes in place which are designed to help the more vulnerable in the community cope with day to day issues, including assisting collecting foodstuffs, medicine and life essentials.

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Caley League clubs have not been slow to support the idea of helping in the community, including the island clubs of Orkney and Shetland who, in harmony with other local organisations, are offering support in their respective communities. “The Red Cross already have a support network which we as a club are linking into,” explained Jake Watt of Shetland.

At Groats Road, Aberdeen Wanderers have responded to a request from a local hospital via club member Mike Wallace to give their time and effort. “We rely on members of the public to support us, but in times such as we are experiencing just now, it is only right we should be there when it matters for them,” said director of rugby Russell Arthur.

This is aview backed by Ellon head coach Craig Parslow. :Rugby is the last thing on our minds just now,” he said. “We want to be out there where we are needed, taking care of the needs of the most vulnerable in the community of Ellon.”

  • Similar initiatives are running at clubs right across Scotland. Any individual seeking more information should contact their local club via social media or on their website.

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About Jack Nixon 67 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!