Co-Optimist RFC Round Up of Events in 2014/2015
With the completion of the GB7s in May we came to the end of yet another rugby year.
On the 20th November 2014 the quinquennial dinner of the Co-Optimist club was held in the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh. This marked the 90th year since the club’s formation in 1924. There was a big turnout of 130 past players and their guests – including a bus load from the West with what seemed like a very large contingent of Docherty’s on board. As usual our friends from beyond Harthill punched way above their weight in the general melee of enjoyment! It was a thoroughly good evening with lots of ‘catch-ups’ with old friends – and the occasional adversary!
It has been a mixed and interesting season starting with the Co-Ops annual fixture with Edinburgh Accies at the end of the 2014 calendar year. There were a few issues with the fixture which, unfortunately, had to be cancelled due to the weather. The game has changed considerably over the last ten years or so but there is still a place for fixtures of this kind. It provides an opportunity for rugby club members - and others - to turn up and support the home team and the players who have been invited to play for the Co-ops from some of the Premier and top National league clubs across Scotland. The Co-Ops committee are committed to continuing the fixture on the condition that it is meaningful and generates interest across the rugby community.
In the spring we had the annual fixture with the East Lothian select – which is the oldest fixture in the Co-Ops fixture list. The game was played at Dunbar Rugby Club’s excellent ground and provided a close and exciting match which the Co-Ops won – eventually – by 32 points to 21. The nucleus of the East Lothian side came from Musselburgh and Preston Lodge, two clubs who have made great strides in their position in the national leagues and it showed! Some cracking rugby and great individual performances on both sides. Topping it off was the excellent hospitality from our hosts at Dunbar rugby Club.
And then, something unusual at the end of the season. Due to the SRU withdrawing backing for the participation of the Scottish Thistles in the GB International 7s. This annual event is a series of seven a side tournaments which takes place in England, Wales and Scotland – and next year in Ireland. The teams participating are very high quality, drawing players from top league clubs and professional academies across the home countries and Ireland. Gb7s requested that the Co-Optimist Club replace the SRU sponsored Scottish Thistles and, thanks to the generosity of two of the Co-Ops Committee, the funds were found to enable the club to participate.The first event took place at the Boroughmuir ground at Meggetland. A wonderful day and a wonderful result with the Co-Ops winning the tournament. The second event was at Coventry where the Co-Ops were defeated in the final plate competition and came in an overall 6th in the 8 teams participating. The third and final event took place at Colwyn Bay in North Wales where the Co-Ops, with some of our outstanding young Scottish players, won the final of the plate competition. At the end of the series Co-Ops stood 5th in the overall competition. All- in-all, an excellent first venture into a very competitive and professional competition. Well done everyone!!
And that’s that for another year! Plans are now under way for next season. Depending on the outcome of discussions there may be a change of fixture for the end of December game but the Spring fixture with East Lothian will go ahead in May 2016 – followed by the GB7’s series which we think will include an additional venue in Ireland. There may well be other requests for the Co-Optimist Club to play in charity/commemoration matches but these will be announced as they are confirmed.
The administration of the club will change over the next few months. Our redoubtable Honorary Secretary Bill Dunlop kindly stepped into the Secretary role in 2013 but has eventually felt the need to hand over to a younger successor. Discussions are currently under way on possible candidates. Fred McLeod, who has been a very active Secretary, Vice President and Committee member for 36 years, will have to retire from active participation due to ill health. Fred will stay on as an Honorary President. Both Fred and Bill have been huge supporters of the Co-Optimist ethos and their contribution will be sadly missed. Big boots to fill!
Other developments in hand are the players data base which enables the linking of all present and past Co-optimists with games that they participated in. The records are by no means comprehensive but good progress is being made. The second development is the creation of a web site to record and publicise events which have taken place over the years. The site also contains the history of the club and a gallery of photographs . Many of the photographs are of events which, so far, haven’t been identified and include many players who we have been unable to identify. Help is needed here. Have a look in the web site gallery and if you can identify any of the events and players who are not identified please let the Hon Sec know at :
WEB Site Address:
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Winter News December 2015
Well, things are moving along. As recently announced Bill Dunlop (Glasgow Hawks) has retired from the Secretary post and has handed over to Douglas Livingstone (Heriots). Remarkably the handover has been pretty seamless, Douglas has settled in comfortably and is putting his own stamp on the way things are done. Much as he did in the Heriots front row - if I remember correctly!
We also have another addition to the Committee and we welcome Ian Rankin. Ian is an immediate past president of the SRU and brings a wealth of rugby experience and many contacts throughout the rugby community in Scotland.
Our annual Xmas/New Year fixture with Edinburgh Accies will not take place this year. All however is not lost and we are delighted that Heriots RFC have stepped in to fill the gap and we can look forward to an entertaining match at Goldenacre on 2 January at 2pm. Other fixtures will be towards the end of the season probably in May. One against East Lothian and the other against Kelso.The match at Kelso is in aid of Gary Callandar who has been suffering from a serious back injury for several years..
Xmas is coming and it’s the time to remind the wife/mistress that you might like to get something that you want rather than what they think you should have. How about a Co-Ops sweater – or tie? You can wear either or both at the next game. Careful how you go though – you don’t want to get two! Click on the Jersey or Tie links to see what's on offer and the order form can be found in the Order link
Jim (Basher) Inglis of Selkirk RFC recently passed away. Jim was 87 and as well as being a loyal and long serving player and administrator for Selkirk and the South of Scotland, he was also a Co-Optimist. A colourful character he will be missed by all his old friends. A tribute to Jim can be found by clicking on this Herald link
Finally our Honorary President Fred McLeod is in the middle of a 7 week spell of chemotherapy. We wish Fred a speedy recovery and look forward to his return and making his usual energetic and valuable contribution to the Co-Optimist Club
I hope to see many of you at Goldenacre on 2 January.
Robin Lind - President
For older Co-Optimists who played in the last century - up to 1996, some may remember the tour to Blackburn. It was a popular feature of the club’s playing calendar for many years, and the source of many tales both false and true – so I am told
It all started in 1951 when a Co-Optimist side went to Blackburn to play against Sir Wavell Wakefield’s International XV to celebrate the centenary of the granting of a Royal Charter to Blackburn by Queen Victoria. Originally the match was to be between an International Select XV and the County Champions, Yorkshire. However, a chance meeting with Charlie Drummond of Scotland and Melrose led to the Co-Optimists providing the opposition rather than Yorkshire. The Co-Ops made a great impression on the day; the match attracted a large crowd and was narrowly won by the Sir Wavell Wakefield International XV.
The success of the Royal Charter Centenary match and the friendships which had been made led to the Co-Optimists accepting an invitation from Blackburn RFC to open the 52/53 playing season against their Presidents Invitation XV. So began a 46 year connection with the last game played in 1998.
On the Co-Optimist side the initial connections between the two clubs were down to George St Claire Murray who had a wide network of friends and associates across the rugby scene. The evidence of this could be seen in the number of famous clubs who invited the Co-Ops to celebrate anniversary milestones and participate in testimonial and charity matches across England and Wales, as well as Scotland.
The last tour to Blackburn was in 1998. The Murray trophy – presented by President George Murray in 1965 - was won on that occasion by the host club, and still rests in their trophy cabinet today. Pity!!
Quite recently we received a letter from Blackburn stating that they were having a dinner to celebrate their 128th anniversary and extended an invitation to members of the Co-Optimist Committee. Unfortunately no member could go but Ian Docherty of GHS, an old Co-Optimist and Blackburn tourist, was in the area on business and able to represent the club.
Ian reports that he survived a very lively and hospitable evening with a turnout of approximately 130, including four ladies. The diners listened with interest (and I am sure no small amusement) to his talk which included reminiscences of his Blackburn touring experiences
Ian Robertson Scotland, Watsonians, Co-Optimist (1965), and BBC rugby commentator was the main speaker. Ian gave a hilarious speech and was a major contributor to an excellent evening.
Blackburn as a club is doing reasonably well. They field three teams and are keen to revive the Co-Optimists fixture –in some way or another. Whether or not that can be done with the current structures we now live with is I suspect doubtful. It is however very tempting to set up something which would return the very impressive Murray trophy to Scotland!
Ian will no doubt keep in contact with Blackburn and we will see how things develop over time.
Co-Ops Hon Sec.
Recognise any faces in the blue jerseys?
There are at least two Scottish Internationalists.
Let us know if you can name any of the players.