That was the Premiership season that almost was: GHA

The Offside Line looks back on a campaign which brought plenty of thrills and spills, before ultimately being cut-off short

GHA captain Jamie McCarthy on the rampage against Edinburgh Accies in December. Image: Colin Robinson
GHA captain Jamie McCarthy on the rampage against Edinburgh Accies in December. Image: Colin Robinson

A BAPTISM of fire for GHA – Chieftains, Hawick and Marr in their opening three games – but they hung in there gamely – and set the show spectacularly on the road with their bonus point win over Accies in round four.

Great to watch. The fightback against Hawks at Braidholm – the tri-fest with Aberdeen up at Rubislaw –  never a dull moment. A never-say-die attitude –  good rugby –  but mistakes aplenty –  at times compensated by absolutely heroic defence. A white knuckle ride for their support – tremendous box office.

Difficult time after the Christmas break with three defeats out of four games – which dropped them from play-off contenders into the relegation mix – but a sterling effort at Philiphaugh in the last game saved the day.

Highlights

Downside

Big Players

  • Grant Mollison – a rock in defence – an inspiration in attack.
  • Charlie Lonergan made a big impact early in the campaign, particularly in the magnificent fightback against Hawks at Braidholm – but disappeared travelling after Christmas –  arriving in Australia just as the bushfires started – and coming back through Vietnam just when Covid-19 broke out. He is now back in Glasgow and raring to go – which given his recent luck, maybe does not augur well for GHA’s prospects!
  • Jamie McCarthy led from the front all season – and faced up impressively when it was really needed down at Philiphaugh.
  • Robbie McCallum hit some great lines whenever he was released by Boroughmuir Bears.
  • Adam Kerr put himself about enthusiastically and carried strongly.

Memorable Comments

  • “Obviously it’s our first experience of Premiership rugby for a while, but Currie came out the blocks really well and blew us away with some great rugby” – head coach Trevor Carmichael, after the opening game against Chieftains.
  • “It was a massive learning experience for us” – Trevor Carmichael after the game against Hawick at Mansfield.
  • “We have to be realistic – with the three teams we have played we have not had the easiest of starts” – Trevor Carmichael, after the Marr game the following week.
  • “I cannot commend the players enough for effort –  it was absolutely phenomenal” –  Trevor Carmichael after the last gasp victory over Hawks in Round 5.
  • “Tennents Premiership not fit for purpose? Aye, right. If its purpose is to provide top quality rugby and entertain the spectators, then this match in difficult conditions delivered perfectly” – Matt Vallance, reporting on the Marr game at Fullarton.
  • “We’ve got a really young team. All of our backline is under 21 apart from Andrew Gillman at scrum-half, so the future is bright” – Trevor Carmichael, optimistic despite not having salvaged a losing bonus point against Hawick at Braidholm.
  • “The boys put in an amazing effort for 80 minutes” –  Trevor Carmichael, after collecting the critical losing bonuspoint at Philiphaugh.
  • “The encouraging thing is that we can improve. We have some very good players, and we are lucky having a big squad” – Under 18’s coach Craig Brown, after beating Hawick Youth in the semi-final of National Youth Cup.
  • “Our Under-18 squad are an outstanding group of young men, exemplified by the way in which they have supported their teammate Dan as he goes through his treatment. As a club we are incredibly proud of them all and their efforts in raising over £5,000 in less than a week for the Beatson Cancer Charity who are providing support for Dan and his family” – GHA Director of Rugby Rangi Jericevich

GHA are an amalgamation that has worked brilliantly – Clarkston (the best sevens tournament outside the Borders) – Hutcheson Grammar (the Bulloch brothers) – St Aloysius (five times winners of Scottish Schools Cup and runners-up in 2018-19). A progressive pro-active club with an excellent development structure – well on their way towards becoming a veritable force in Scottish rugby.


That was the Premiership season that (almost) was: Jed-Forest

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