GETTING back into the Premiership was a big deal for Jed, but initially they struggled badly with injuries.
Dad’s Army did not have a look-in – 44-year-old John Szkudro played in the second-row against Accies – and assistant (backs) coach Fraser Harkness covered the back-row from the bench.
Their backs were a joy to behold but they were living off scraps – and the forwards kept shooting themselves in the foot with needless yellow cards. But Gavin Kerr hung in there phlegmatically – and strangely, having won only their second game out of six against Musselburgh in round six, they found themselves in the play-off zone – but they then lost their next four games and were flirting with relegation – until everything came together in an outstanding performance against GHA at Riverside in February.
- The opening of the ‘Three 9s Legacy Lounge’ at Riverside by Jim Telfer before the Marr game to celebrate the club’s three world class scrum-halves: Roy Laidlaw, Gary Armstrong and Greg Laidlaw. But not a mention of ‘Baldy’ Lightbody?
- Presentation to Michael Weekley after the Aberdeen game in December to mark his 250th game for the club.
- Jed Thistle, coached by Scott Nichol, beating Ayr Wellington 24-22 at the Oriam to qualify for the final of the Scotland Under 18 Youth Cup – which was unfortunately postponed because of the coronavirus crisis – but not a bad effort from a place with a mixed school roll of under 300.
- Callum Young and Gregor Law making the Scotland Club XV.
- Harry Meadows, Gregor Law, Dom Buckley, Donald Grieve and Gary Young producing the goods up front big style in atrocious conditions when it really mattered against GHA in February – and, given the conditions, Robbie Yourston kicking an amazing seven conversion out of eight attempts – for a win which was the difference between sitting comfortably mid-table on 36 points and scrabbling around on 31 points still threatened by relegation.
- Failing to turn up for the biggest game of the season at Mansfield in November – and being beaten by Hawick five tries to nil.
- 16 yellow cards over the season – effectively playing two full games with 14 men. Dom Buckley got himself a second yellow (which morphed into a red) after the final whistle against GHA at Braidholm – and even assistant coach Fraser Harkness managed to pick one up when he went on as an emergency substitute against Hawks at Balgray!
- Callum and Lewis Young are coruscating talents – electric on the ball – and tidy in defence.
- Once he got back from injury, Gregor Law was a tower of strength in the second-row. A player’s player who is not afraid to put it about.
- Robbie Yourston plays well – every week – and he is not a bad goal kicker!
- Harry Meadows was a useful recruit from Dundee – young Tom Jeffrey showed promise at prop but got injured at the wrong time – and veteran Donald Grieve answered the call valiantly.
- “It has taken us about 20 years to get into the Premiership and we want to stay in it” –Jed’s recently departed development officer, Kevin Barrie.
- “It was very frustrating. We gave away far too many penalties” – Gavin Kerr, after the defeat at Philiphaugh.
- “We had the ascendancy up until we got the yellow card” – Gavin Kerr, after the defeat by Chieftains at Riverside.
- “We played some very good rugby when Marr would allow us to. Their pack controlled things, but we saw enough today to persuade me that if we get a bit more ball we can hurt teams. However, our injuries, particularly up front, are hurting us” – assistant coach Fraser Harkness, after defeat by Marr at Fullarton.
- “The pleasing thing for me is that we showed that we can roll up our sleeves up and get stuck in, which has maybe been missing up until now” – Gavin Kerr after the narrow win over Hawks at Balgray.
- “One of the greatest spectacles in Premiership rugby is the Jed back division in full flow” –Alan Lorimer reporting on the Jed versus Aberdeen game at Riverside.
- “I am frustrated because I thought the game was there for the taking. The sin binning cost us” – Gavin Kerr, after the defeat by Chieftains at Malleny.
- We knew we had to pull that one out of the bag. Crucially our attitude was right. We controlled the ball. We have some good ball carriers” – Gavin Kerr, after the critical win against GHA.
Job done – but it was hard going at times. The bones of an excellent side, but strength in depth has always been a problem for Jed, even back in the halcyon days of 1956-57 when ‘Baldy’ Lightbody, Wilson Renilson, Harry Hogg, Archie Bell and Bert Hunter won the Border League and shared the Unofficial Scottish Championship. Hopefully the current success of the Thistle will go some way to relieving that problem – and maybe even revive past glories.