Issuu on Google+


TALES FROM THE TERRACES SCOTLAND RUGBY FANS REMEMBER This is our team These are our memories This is history in the making As over seventy Scottish rugby legends tell their story in Behind the Thistle: Playing Rugby for Scotland – a history of Scottish rugby since the War in the players’ words (published November 2010) – the time has come for the fans to tell theirs. We are inviting rugby fans to tell us their stories of watching Scotland play, memories of their favourite players and favourite moments and to share their experiences with others in Tales from the Terraces: Scotland Rugby Fans Remember – this online page-turner book where memories and photos can be displayed and shared with the rugby world. The story of Scottish rugby is one of incredible human endeavour, savage bravery, triumph in adversity, glory against the odds, agony in defeat and ecstasy in victory. It is the story of great and mighty men, of the lightning fast and the granite hard. And it is the story of the thousands who stand in the slipstream of their heroes, living and breathing every awe-inspiring moment that is played out on the green stage before them. In Behind the Thistle: Playing Rugby for Scotland, rugby heroes from the past sixty years explain what it is really like to play for Scotland, revealing the sacrifices and joys experienced by those who have shed blood, sweat and tears in pursuit of glory in the international jersey. In Tales from the Terraces, Scotland’s fans can become part of this great history of the game by sharing their experiences from the other side of the white-wash.

This is our time In association with Behind the Thsitle: Playing Rugby for Scotland by David Barnes and Peter Burns £20.00 hardback ISBN: 978 1 84158 653 3

Published 1 November 2010


Watching Scotland play international rugby has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. Ever since that first occasion when I marched down Princes Street with my dad, my wee hand in his, on my way to Murrayfield for the first time, every occasion when Scotland has played has been special to me. It remains a huge disappointment to me that I never got the chance myself to pull on the famous jersey, listen to the last-minute team talk and run out to play the auld enemy at Murrayfield. I have spent my entire life wishing that I could somehow have played, even just once, for Scotland in a full international. It would have meant more to me than anything else I can think of in a sporting context. When I played in that final trial at our national ground, just entering the dressing room was a thrill in itself. I was awestruck. Bill McLaren (1923-2010) The Voice of Rugby


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1940s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns KEN SCOTLAND (Royal Signals, Heriot’s FP, Cambridge University, London Scottish, Leicester, Aberdeenshire) 27 Caps: 1957–65 I think the key moment as far as my early rugby development was concerned came in 1946 when my father took me to watch Scotland beat the New Zealand Army at Murrayfield. From then on I wanted to play for Scotland. It really concentrated the mind – that became my central focus in life.

Above: The players in action during Scotland’s momentous victory over the New Zealand Army. Hulton Getty Archiv. Press Association Opposite: An aerial view of Murrayfield during the Scotland-England Victory International match in 1946. Press Association


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1940s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns RUSSELL BRUCE (Glasgow Academicals and the Army) 8 Caps: 1947–49 (plus six Victory Internationals in 1946) Billy Munro, who was at inside centre, and I played particularly well in that game against the New Zealand Army and we won 11-6. We were the only team to beat the Kiwis on that tour, which was quite an achievement – especially when you consider that Scotland have never beaten New Zealand in all the years since then. That result really stands out and should be remembered more than it is, because it was a special victory and it was wonderful to be part of it. The Kiwis were a great team – full of power and pace, and they were all monstrously big and fit, and because they were on a tour they were much better prepared than we were. But we really stuck in as a team and were cheered on wonderfully by the Murrayfield crowd; we wanted to enjoy ourselves whenever we played for Scotland, so we attacked whenever we could and at times we looked like the touring team because things just worked so well between the players.

Scotland and England line up for the pre-match playing of God Save the King at Twickenham in 1947. Press Association.


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1940s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns FRANK COUTTS (Melrose and the Army) 3 Caps: 1947 (plus two Victory Internationals in 1946) The first cap international after the war was on January 1 1947. We hadn’t played France since 1933 because there had been a fall-out over the issue of France fielding professionals, and this was the hand of friendship after fighting together in the war. So we all ploughed over to Paris for January 1 and I was a reserve, which meant I didn’t even have to strip off; but I had my bag-pipes so I was able to lead the team onto the field. We had a lovely dinner that night in the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed the hospitality immensely – so much so that I was a bit worried by the end of the evening that a few of the boys might fall over the edge. That was a great occasion because things had been so grim for so long and it was just wonderful to be in this magnificent city, playing rugby and enjoying life. It was sad because you would find yourself thinking of all the players who were no longer with us that might have there, and you could argue that I would never have been capped had so-and-so not been killed in the war. But that was the life we had and I was thrilled to be involved. Scotland captain Doug Keller introduces HRH The Duke of Edinburgh to his teammates before the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham, 19 March 1949. Press Association

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1950s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns DONALD SCOTT (Langholm, London Scottish, Watsonians) 10 Caps: 1950–53 In 1951 we beat Wales 19-0 at Murrayfield. Their team had eleven players who toured with the British Lions in New Zealand the previous summer, and they had thumped England a fortnight earlier. The game was played in front of a record crowd at that time. They stopped letting people in, then hundreds more surged through a gap in the railings and climbed over the walls and turnstiles. The game was delayed for a little bit, and lots of supporters were brought in and sat on the grass in front of the schoolboys’ enclosure, which meant that opposite the West Stand you had the touchline and then supporters only a couple of feet back. It was quite intimidating – you felt like you were in a real cauldron.

Douglas ‘WID’ Elliot was a great example of the quality that Scotland produced. We had been damn good in the war years, the Army side beating New Zealand, and WID was the first truly outstanding player to emerge after that. When he was roused and the game mattered he was inspiring, not least when we beat Wales 19-0 in 1951 and they had 11 Lions to our one. Peter Kininmonth played in that game too and he was a fascinating chap, who gave up rugby after leaving Sedbergh because he didn’t think he was good enough, but when persuaded to play for a club down south he made such a name for himself that Oxford University called him in, and he went on to be a banker for Scotland, playing 16 tests in a row, 21 in all and captaining Scotland. He sadly played through that period of 17 defeats and players like Arthur Smith and Hugh McLeod brought us out of it. Arthur was terrific, a footballer who turned to rugby and became one hell of a player, and captain of the Lions, while Hughie was the best prop I ever played with – the most hard-working, consistently

good, focused player I think I came across. Ken Scotland was another lovely footballer, like Arthur, a slight player but one who played in all sorts of positions for the Lions and every time played well. Norman Mair, extract from The Scotsman My father used to tell me about the great win that Scotland had over Wales in 1951. Scotland had been written-off before the game (the Welsh team was full of Lions and Scotland had hardly any famous players), but WID Elliot and Peter Kininmonth were apparently in imperious form for the home team and they stormed around the pitch causing mayhem in the Welsh ranks – Kininmonth, who was a number eight, scoring a fantastic dropgoal – and they led Scotland to a very famous victory. My father used to tell me that it was one of the best games he ever saw and that the crowd scenes were just fantastic.

Opposite: The crowd invade the pitch at Murrayfield after Scotland defeat Ireland in 1955. Getty Images

Mark Blackmore, Edinburgh


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1950s

Although I was just a boy at the time I remember my father and mother taking me to Murrayfield to watch Scotland play Wales. We stood in the south terrace and had a terrific view of the match – even though my father had to lift me up now and again to see when things got exciting. I don’t recall an awful lot about the first part of the game at all – except for the noise in the ground. But I do remember Peter Kininmonth, who was the number eight, taking the ball from a Welsh clearance and striking a booming drop-goal. That drop-goal really stirred up the crowd and it seemed to urge on the home team as well as they stepped up their endeavours to score three tries and win the game. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but my father talked for many years afterwards about that game – not about Kinimonth’s dropgoal or the tries or anything like that, but about the play of WID Elliot in the Scottish back-row. I was too young to notice things like that, but I have subsequently read about Elliot’s defensive efforts that completely disrupted the Welsh attack and lay the foundations for a magnificent Scottish win. There’s not an awful lot of television footage around from those days, so I am very pleased to say that I was able to see Elliot in play in person and to witness such a magnificent victory. Lawrence Orr, Edinburgh Douglas Elliot was a huge player for Scotland, just incredible. He was a warrior and the best player I ever saw. I used to watch him play for Edinburgh Accies and for Scotland and he was just as committed and excellent playing at Raeburn Place as he was at Murrayfield, which shows you just how seriously he took things, no matter who he was playing for. I remember seeing him play the All Blacks in 1954 when Scotland lost 3-0 and he seemed to be the one making all of Scotland’s tackles! Mary Stephenson, Duns

Douglas Elliot

Douglas Elliot was my first rugby hero, and for a long time in the fifties, he was the only one a Scots boy could have... the Scottish sides he played in, especially in the fifties, gave him little chance to display his attacking abilities. All the same, match reports of the time make frequent mention of Elliot bursting from the line-out to run thirty yards... He was undoubtedly the nearest thing to a forward in the classic All Black mould that


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1950s

Scotland produced in the twenty years after the war, for he was fast also, possessed all the basic skills, and breathed aggression. It was fitting that almost his last game for Scotland was against the All Blacks in 1954, when he captained the side that held the tourists to a single penalty goal. Allan Massie, extract from A Portrait of Scottish Rugby I believe that Douglas Elliot would still have made massive impact in the modern game although it might have irked him not a little that he would have to give far more of his time from farming to attend so many squad sessions. During the National Trial in which I played, the only time the ball was thrown anywhere near my space in the line-out and I got it I found myself enmeshed in a vice-like grip. The feeling was of two iron bands imprisoning my arms. The bands belonging to Douglas Elliot, one of the greatest Scottish wing-forwards, whose strength had been developed in his every-day life as a son of the soil. I was much impressed by the form of temporary paralysis he imposed on my arms and it did not surprise me that he remained Scotland’s most capped wing-forward with 29 appearances until John Jeffrey gained his 30th cap in the second Test against the All Blacks in Auckland in June 1990. Prior to one Scottish game against Wales at Murrayfield Elliot had attended a brief Scottish team get-together on the Friday afternoon but, as his father was not well, Douglas drove back home to the family farm some way out of Edinburgh and the car ran out of petrol four miles from home. He ran all the way home for the petrol and back to the car, did some shearing and some other farmwork before dark, was up with the lark because a field drain had to be repaired which took two hours, then took off for Murrayfield to join the Scottish team just in time for kick-off. What is more, Scotland won! Bill McLaren, extract from The Voice of Rugby

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns DONALD SCOTT The first-half had been pretty tight and we were piling on the pressure at the start of the second-half but only leading 3-0 when their fullback, Gerwyn Williams, sent a clearance kick in my direction. I was standing there ready to gather it when I heard Peter Kininmonth’s voice saying, ‘My ball!’ Well, he was my captain and he was bigger than me, so I decided to leave it to him. He caught the ball, pivoted and sent over the most perfectly struck drop-goal I had ever seen, from 25 yards out close to the touchline. I think he’d played in the back division at school – so might have dropped a few goals back then – but he was 6’ 4@ and had moved into the forwards. His kick was the turning point and we went on to beat them 19-0. I got a bit of a laugh afterwards because someone asked me what I would have done if Kininmonth hadn’t been there. I said, ‘Quite simple, I would have caught the ball, skipped past the Welsh defence with a couple of sidesteps and scored behind the posts. The conversion would have made it five points… Kininmonth only got three points for his drop-goal!’

I remember the first time I saw Mike Campbell-Lamerton playing for Scotland. He was enormous, a real giant. He was a wonderful beacon for the other players to follow – it is always good to have a big man in your pack, when the going gets tough, you look to a player like Campbell-Lamerton and he would trundle the ball up


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1950s

and invariably make good ground for the backs to attack from. James Reilly, Argyll Ken Scotland and Arthur Smith were on a different level in everything they did. They were wonderful, wonderful players. Scotland had been having a tough few years before they came on the scene – and even though they didn’t transform the team’s results overnight, they were genuinely world-class players. Their attacking instincts were second-to-none, and although I never saw them live playing for the Lions, I understand that they excelled in that exclusive environment, showcasing their talents of all they were worth. Michael Simpson, Edinburgh Ken Scotland was one of the first of the really attacking fullbacks. He pioneered moves involving the fullback coming into the line, something that has become such a common sight that one might think that fullbacks always played that way – but not so. It really started with Scotland and he transformed the way that backlines thought about attacking – and indeed, the way defenses had to use their heads more in their organisation. A stunning player. Thomas Willet, Edinburgh Arthur Smith was the prince of British wingers in the 1950s and 60s. I was in the old south terrace at Murrayfield for the 1955 game against Wales that became know simply as ‘Arthur Smith’s match’. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Although, Scotland were enduring their worst-ever run of results at the time [17 matches without a win], so there had been precious little to stir the imagination before that! But Smith made his debut in that game was a sensation. The whole ground seem to shake with

Arthur Smith. Scran

the noise of the crowd as he scored a length of the field effort. I had never heard anything like it and both the noise during that game and the sight of Arthur Smith in full flight has stayed with me ever since – it still sends goose-bumps up just to think about it. Fraser Murray, Penicuik


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1950s

My first experiences of watching Scotland was during the long seventeen-match run in the fifties without a single victory. I could never be accused of being a fair-weather fan! Those were hard years to be a Scotland supporter, but things took a real turn for the better when Arthur Smith and Ken Scotland started to play. Arthur Smith scored an incredible try in his first cap against Wales and that was the first game we had won in years. He instantly became my new idol! Maureen Cox, Dundee

Have your memories published here.

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns KEN SCOTLAND (Royal Signals, Heriot’s FP, Cambridge University, London Scottish, Leicester, Aberdeenshire) 27 Caps: 1957–65 The game had been pretty stagnant from the 1930s, through the war, and into the 1950s. There had been very little, if any innovation. The forwards got the ball and gave it to the backs. The first time I can remember forwards doing moves was in 1960, when DJ Hopwood, the South African number eight, started picking the ball up at the base of the scrum, and around that time the French had started peeling round the tail of the line-out as well. Also, Oxford had a great pair of half-backs in Mike Smith, who was England’s last cricket and rugby double internationalist, and Onllwyn Brace, and they started initiating moves. So the game was evolving a bit, and I was fortunate to be a part of that because in my first year in the Cambridge team Gordon Waddell – who was a really good tactical player and with whom I had a good understanding – was at stand-off. We started developing ploys with the fullback coming into the line. We just wanted to do something the opposition wasn’t expecting. In those days each player drew his man and there was no such thing as drift defence, so a fullback coming into the line automatically created a twoon-one until the opposition figured us out. We also used the blindside a lot more than was previously fashionable.

Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1960s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns JIM TELFER (Melrose) 25 Caps: 1964–1970 I was captain of the team against France in 1969 and it was at Colombes, which is the stadium where Eric Liddell won his 400 metres gold medal, and to get to the pitch you had to come through this wet tunnel with water dripping down on you, and then you came up right into the middle of the stadium. It was like being a lion being released into the Coliseum. You looked around and realised you were suddenly the focus of this huge hostile crowd.

Scotland had some great players over the years, but I think that Arthur Smith was the first that could be truly considered a genius.

and George Stevenson out on the wing. That was probably one of my favourite seasons as a Scotland fan – purely because we had endured so much misery for so many years before that.

Jim Turnbull, Montrose Jim Telfer and PC Brown made a big difference to the Scottish pack when they came on the scene. Jim Telfer wasn’t the best player to ever play in the Scottish back-row, but he had a real mongrel about him that was similar to the way WID Elliot had played before him. And PC Brown was a super player and a wonderful footballer. In their first season we drew with the All Blacks at Murrayfield, beat France, Ireland and England and shared the Five Nations with Wales. I went to every game that Scotland won that year and it was the most brilliant feeling to have your team do so well after so many years of being the whipping boys of the Championship. We had some great players in the forwards in those days with guys like Hugh McLeod and Norman Bruce in the front-row, real work horses to go along with PC and Telfer, and then we had Eck Hastie at scrum-half

Oliver Simpson, Berwick I always loved the way PC Brown took his goal kicks: heel into the ground, ball into divot, quick glance to see that it’s lined up to the posts, turn back on ball and casually stride away, turn around, wipe nose, stagger up to the ball and hoof – like a goalie in football clearing his lines. The ball would often wobble its way towards the posts and you never quite knew if it was going to make it or not… but when it did, and Scotland were playing at home, the whole place would go berserk! Catherine Brown Hughie McLeod was one of the best players that I ever saw in the blue for Scotland – or even in the green of Hawick. He was a fabulous player, so committed and really, really hard. He used to hare around the pitch like a back-row forward and was as strong

Opposite: A view from the south terrace during Scotland’s victory over Wales at Murrayfield in 1961. Press Association


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1960s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns JIM TELFER I was a great admirer of Hughie McLeod. I think he was the best loose-head prop Scotland has ever had, better than Ian MacLauchlan, David Sole and Tom Smith. I remember playing with him for the South when I was just coming through. I’d be about 20 and he’d be about 30. We came out this scrum, charged across the park and hit the centre. I was the back-row and I was meant to be there before anyone else, but Hughie raced past me and got to the ball first. It was an eye-opener for me. I remember just thinking, ‘This boy is different.’ His attitude to everything was just different. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke – he went out training while everyone else was at home or in the pub. He was ahead of his time. I think Derrick Grant took a lot from him and he certainly inspired my attitude towards training and doing everything you can to improve your own game. When Davie Rollo got to forty caps they dropped him, apparently because the SRU didn’t want him to go past Hughie. Hugh McLeod. The Scotsman Publications Ltd.

as a bull in the scrum. One of the best props to ever play for Scotland and, in my opinion, one of the best props to ever come out of the British Isles. John Taylor, Stirlingshire


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1960s

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1970s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns ANDY IRVINE (Heriot’s FP) 51 Caps: 1972–1982 My first game in the Five Nations was Scotland’s opening match against France in 1973 – which was also the first game to be played at the new Parc de Princes. There was a hell of an atmosphere at that game, the crowd were just crazy – 50,000 mad Frenchmen with a sprinkling of Scottish supporters, bands that played throughout the game along with drums and firecrackers and trumpets all over the place. The crowd would build themselves up into a frenzy as kick-off approached and as you came out of the tunnel you could actually feel the air beating with the noise. The passion on show was just incredible – it was a brand new ground but instantly it was a fortress. I had never experienced anything like it in my life.

The much missed Gordon ‘Broon Frae Troon’ was the best player I saw for Scotland. A lion in every sense. Annabelle Simpson, Edinburgh Gordon Brown had a never-say-die attitude, a cool head under pressure and yet also brimmed with pride and passion – allied with great skill and courage, a wicked wit and endless charm. He will always be remembered with great fondness and in the highest regard by rugby fans around the world – one of the greatest forwards this country had ever produced. Chris Petrie, Perth Jim Renwick – the finest player to play for Scotland and one of the finest to play in the sacred green jersey too! Jim Marsh, Hawick

Andy Irvine was incredible: incredibly frustrating at times, incredibly mesmerising at others. How can you sum him up? Mercurial, enigmatic, awe-inspiring, infuriating, masterful. A true maverick. What a player! Tim Small, Edinburgh The best two props every to play together for Scotland? Sandy Carmichael and the Mighty Mouse, no question. Granite hard. Tim Jones, Ayrshire I always loved hearing stories about PC and Gordon Brown – especially their brotherly rivalry with one another. I love the story about the gutter that ran around their house when they were growing up – PC would lick his fingers, leap up and leave a mark on the gutter. Gordon would always try but never manage it… until one day when he did, at last, do it. He ran inside to tell his brother but by the time they came outside the mark had dried

Opposite: Police hold the crowd back after Scotland defeat England in the Centenary Match at Murrayfield. The Scotsman Publications Ltd


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1970s

and vanished. PC still maintains that Gordon never managed to touch the gutter. Simon Reid, Orkney The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns PETER BROWN (West of Scotland and Gala) 27 Caps: 1964–73 I missed the start of the 1970 Championship against France, but I was fit again for the Wales game. When the letter arrived telling me I was back in the team, I thought I better phone my brother Gordon – who we had all assumed would keep his place in the second-row – to commiserate. He always knew the team first, but when he answered the phone on this occasion I could tell immediately that he didn’t know, so I said, ‘Great news, I’m back in.’ He said, ‘Terrific, who’s dropped?’ I said, ‘You are.’ Then, in the game, I tweaked my thigh chasing the kickoff at the start of the second-half, and of all the great things Gordon did, that is what he ended up in the Guinness Book of Records for: being the first brother to replace a brother in an international match.

I remember the 1970 season was a bit of a write-off for Scotland – except for our victory over England at Murrayfield. That game had one of the most extraordinary moments for it saw Scotland introduce the tap-penalty move. Ian McLauchlan took it and after a series of dummy runs from the other forwards, he gave

Jim Renwick. SNS Pix

the ball to Gordon Brown and eventually the ball went wide and John Frame nearly scored in the corner. It was amazing – the crowd and the English players were completely dumb-founded by it all. Michael Grant, Linlithgow What would Scotland give for a Jim Renwick or an Andy Irvine these days? Or even a John Rutherford? I’m not wanting to take anything away (really) from the current crop, but they all seem a bit autonomised by professional rugby. There are no mavericks any more, no daredevils with that glint in their eye that chaps like Renwick and Irvine had. To see them play was one of the great sights I’ve ever enjoyed as a rugby fan. They were right up


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1970s

there with the very best of them in the days when British and Irish rugby was at its peak. It was criminal that Renwick didn’t tour more with the Lions. Irvine, on the other hand, showed exactly what a class act he was to play so many times for the Lions and to perform so brilliantly for them. Rugby geniuses, both. Stuart Rives, Melrose

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns JIM RENWICK (Hawick) 51 Caps: 1972–1984 The All Blacks came to Edinburgh in December 1972 and that game saw first caps awarded to Ian McGeechan at flyhalf and Andy Irvine at fullback. Geech was pretty small like me, but we linked well together and stood up strong in defence against the All Blacks, and I liked his approach to the game; I think he enjoyed playing alongside me, too. Andy wasn’t even fully fit because he’d knackered his knee during the National Trial the week before, but he had been an unused replacement during the Five Nations and was desperate to play – and despite his knee being dodgy he still managed to kick six of our nine points and he made some fantastic breaks. He was great to have at fullback and it was a position that suited him well as it gave him licence to attack from anywhere and to hit the line wherever he saw some space opening up. He wasn’t the best defensive fullback I ever played with, but he had the attitude of: if you score three, I’ll score four.

I went to watch Scotland play France in the 1973 Five Nations in Paris – it was the first game at the Parc des Princes and I had never known an atmosphere like it, it was like a giant carnival was going on. Scotland played tremendously well but were just edged out in the end. My wife and some friends and I all went out for dinner that night and later on we saw both the teams out partying together in some bars. They had clearly had a wonderful time at the dinner and it was great to see them mixing with one another – the great camaraderie of rugby, particularly in the amateur days. Neville Morris, Edinburgh One of the most inspiring performances I have ever seen from Scotland was when we played Wales at Murrayfield in 1973. Wales had a magnificent team at the time but Scotland fronted up marvellously. It was the Mighty Mouse’s first game as captain and you could see his fire and brimstone attitude affected the other players because they all played like men possessed. That in turn really fired up the crowd and with the usual huge Welsh contingent in the stands, the atmosphere really was special – super sportsmanship but also healthy rivalry. It was a wonderful day and we had a wonderful night out afterwards, with both sets of fans singing in the bars around Edinburgh until the early hours. Great days. Edward Hardie, Kinross The Calcutta Cup in ’74 was a classic – Irvine at his worst and his sublime best. He couldn’t have hit a barn door with his kicking for an hour and then out of nowhere he scored two tries, two penalties and a conversion to win the game. Murrayfield erupted. Unbelievable. Ken Smith, Glasgow


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1970s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns ALAN TOMES (Hawick) 48 Caps: 1976–1987 We had started really well on the tour to New Zealand in 1975, beating Nelson Bay in the first match, scoring eight tries to win 51-6, but then we lost to Otago at the House of Pain in Dunedin, which was my first game for Scotland. We then went to Christchurch and lost to Canterbury and were completely outplayed by their forwards. We managed to get things back on track by beating Hawke’s Bay 30-0 and followed that up by beating Wellington at Athletic Park, 36-25. We then went to Gisborne to play Poverty Bay and although we had won the last two matches, we had been getting a bit of a doing up front all tour, so Bill Dickinson gave the forwards a real roasting, and Duncan Madsen was on the receiving end of some really harsh words. In the changing room he was bouncing around trying to look as angry as he could when he kicked the door leading into the showers. Well, his foot went right through it and it was like a fish hook – the studs got caught and he couldn’t get his boot back out. Just then the referee came in to give us the usual chat about behaving ourselves and not getting too rough – and Madsen was hopping around with his foot stuck in the door. It was always a great shame that those super players from the seventies never won anything of note. Many of those guys were the greatest to ever play for Scotland in their respective positions, some were arguably the greatest in the world at the time – and that was saying a lot during that decade of wonderful players. They got close on a number of occasions – I remember going

Sandy Carmichael, Gordon Brown and Ian McLauchlan ready themselves at a lineout.

to watch two Triple Crown deciders at Twickenham and we lost both when we should have won. I could hardly speak on the way home on both occasions, I was so upset. Charles McCaw, London


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1970s

Andy Irvine crosses against France at Murrayfield. The Scotsman

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1980s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns GAVIN HASTINGS (Cambridge University, Watsonians, London Scottish) 61 Caps: 1986–95 Walking out onto Lancaster Park for the opening match with France was awe-inspiring. We really knew that we were part of something special with this first World Cup and we were there in this great bear-pit that was ringing with noise – bagpipes trilling on the air and it was wonderful to see and hear such a lot of support so far away from home.

I can still remember very clearly the draw we had with the All Blacks in 1983. That was a tremendous Scottish performance and one that we really should have sneaked in the end – we deserved it after all the work that the players put in. That was one of the finest rucking displays I have ever seen from any team (even the great All Black sides). It was ferocious and bore all the hallmarks of Jim Telfer and the years of work that he had put in with that group of players – many of them coming through the Scotland B ranks with him as coach in the late seventies. That was a typical display of Scotland playing to their best style – quick ruck ball, quick, twisting, rolling mauls, and clever play out wide when on the front-foot. That was a major stepping-stone to the Grand Slam the following spring.

biggest names to play for Scotland emerged during this time and there is no doubting the credentials of Gavin and Scott Hastings, David Sole, Jim and Finlay Calder, John Beattie, Derek White, Iain Milne, Colin Deans, John Rutherford, Roy Laidlaw and so on. They are genuine legends of the Scottish game – and even the world game in some cases. But for me there is one who stood head and shoulders above them all. He was, to me, the ultimate warrior in a Scottish jersey and the key to many of the great feats that Scotland enjoyed in the early to mid-eighties. David Leslie. Hard, uncompromising, skilful and with an iron will never to give up and accept defeat. It was an honour to have seen him play. He was, in my opinion, the most valuable player in the Scottish team and one that would have made it into any team before or since. A true legend.

John Paterson, London Freddie Bennett, Fife When I think back to the eighties there were obviously some real highlights. It was a golden decade for Scotland in many ways, with two Grand Slams if you tag on 1990 at the end. Some of the

John Beattie was a favourite of mine to watch – he was all energy and wild enthusiasm. He used to throw his body around the

Opposite: Jim Calder scores the clinching try in the Grand Slam match against France at Murrayfield, 1984. The Scotsman Publications Ltd


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1980s

place and I have always enjoyed his commentary on the game since he took up journalism. It’s great to see his son doing so well now too – cut from the same mould, there’s no doubt. Rona Easton, Aberdeen There are so many terrific memories to cherish from the ’84 Grand Slam season – the win down in Wales which backed up our effort from two years previously – I can still see Iain Paxton’s stretching dive to score and Jim Aitken scurrying over from a series of driving mauls and quick rucks; John Rutherford scoring a beauty of a try against England and then Euan Kennedy clinching the Calcutta Cup for us after Jim Calder ripped the ball from Dusty Hare; Laidlaw’s two tries at Lansdowne Road which sealed us the Triple Crown in real style... you could go on and on. But my favourite three memories are from the France game (not surprisingly, I suppose). The Bear scrummaged the life out of a fearsome French pack that had their whole team reeling; David Leslie nearly took Jerome Gallion’s head off with a bonecrunching tackle that really set the tone and gave all the Scotland players and the crowd a huge lift; and, of course, Jim Calder’s try. What a year that was! Jim Thompson, Falkirk If you think back to the first moments of Gavin Hastings’ international career, you might have thought that the Scotland selectors had made a terrible decision in picking him. It was real ‘new broom’ stuff, with his brother Scott also making his debut along with David Sole and Finlay Calder. Gavin kicked off against the French in the first game of the Championship, at Murrayfield, and the ball went straight out. Everybody started trotting back to the centre mark for a scrum – except a couple of

The ultimate competitor, David Leslie. Press Association


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1980s

French players, who took a quick line-out and then scored under the posts, which they converted. Luckily young Gavin didn’t let his head go down (symptomatic of his career, as it would transpire) and he proceeded to kick 18 points to secure the won for Scotland!

Scotland score we jump up on the benches in front us causing chaos to catch a glimpse of the try but it’s the quiet moments that stay with me; Gavin Hastings right in front of us on the touchline kicking Scotland to victory. Ed Stott, London

Jane Flockart, Broughty-Ferry 1986. I’m 8 and it’s my first time to Murrayfield. Scotland v France and the Hastings brothers’ debut. I can remember watching in awe as the teams warmed up and laughing a lot at the hairdo sported by Jean Condom. The teams return to the changing rooms and then France run out onto the pitch. Jean Condom sprints out of the tunnel carrying a ball, as he hits the pitch he boots a huge up’n’under to himself which he promptly drops… it might be our day. The game ebbs and flows and as much as I watch the action on the pitch I am fascinated by what’s happening around me; a bearded highlander wearing a tam o’ shanter with huge pheasant feathers booms “’mon Scotland” every couple of minutes high above us in the West Stand, I watch the crowd sway and move in the North Stand and the trains slow down to catch the action behind the clock end. Every time

Gavin Hastings lines up a kick for goal during his debut season in 1986. Scran

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1990s

The Coach’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns IAN McGEECHAN (Headingley) 32 Caps: 1972–1979 In my speech to the team before the Grand Slam game I talked about how they would be playing not just for the fans who were in the stadium and not just for those who were watching the game around the country; they were also playing for all those Scots throughout the world whose lives had taken them away from the land of their birth and for whom the blue jersey still meant so much – because the jersey was a symbol of their home and their roots and who they were and to win would make them prouder than anyone else in Scotland. I was thinking about my dad when I said that because his heart had always been in Scotland.

I remember the first time my father took me to Murrayfield. It was 17 February, 1990 and I was eight years old. I can still vividly remember the scent of cigar and pipe smoke mixing with the sweet tang of alcohol on the breath of those sitting near us and the waxy smell of Barbour jackets in the air (we were sitting in the East Stand, after all). There was a great hubbub and energy in the ground as the stands and terraces filled before kick-off, and I can still remember the roar that went up when a train raced along the track behind the south terrace and sounded its horn in salute to the gathering throng. Minutes later more cheers and applause broke out as a cockerel was released onto the pitch and was shooed away by the security marshals. The rousing melodies of the pipe band began to echo around the ground as the clock ticked closer to the hour-mark and then the teams emerged. We stood in respectful silence for La Marseillaise as ripples of French support sang their hearts out before the rest of the ground erupted into Flower of Scotland; it was a noise the like of which I had never heard before – a deafening cry to arms. And in those few minutes, from passing through the turnstiles to the moment

the kick-off was struck, Murrayfield and that Scottish jersey had captured my heart forever. Peter Burns, Edinburgh The most iconic moment in Scottish rugby history? A no brainer: David Sole slowly marches his team down the tunnel to meet the might of the English and secure a place in the annals of Scottish sporting lore forever. Martin Smith, Glasgow I can still remember the crowd noise during David Sole’s slow march… when Stanger scored… when Scott Hastings’ put in that tackle on Underwood… the final whistle… it was the stuff dreams are made of. Jane Gilchrist, Perth

Opposite: Doddie Weir and Rob Wainwright carry Gavin Hastings from the field as Scotland’s captain says farewell to the international arena at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Getty Images


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1990s

1990 was the first year that I started watching Scotland play live. And after that season, I just presumed that winning all their matches was just the thing that the Scotland team did. The bubble didn’t last very long though, unfortunately! Max Bentley, Melrose Bill McLaren trying to keep calm when Tony Stanger scored – a great Hawick combo! Bob Munro, Hawick The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns

Gavin Hastings lines up a kick at goal against France at Murrayfield, February 1990. Press Association

DAVID SOLE (Bath and Edinburgh Academicals) 44 Caps: 1986–1992

One of the most dramatic, albeit heartbreaking, memories that I have of being a fan at Murrayfield was the 1991 World Cup semi-final against England. I remember big Gav’s miss so vividly. Although, to be fair to him, there was still a long way to go in the game and I don’t think any of us realised how big a deal it would turn out to be that he missed. I still wonder what would have happened if Gav had got the kick – could we have beaten Australia in the final? We were one of the top teams in the world at the time (oh, how I wish I could still say that) and I reckon we would have had every chance. The age-old Scottish sporting curse of, ‘if only…’

In the last few minutes before the game when I was making my final pitch to the players, I said: we’re walking out there and we’re not going to hold back: this is our time.

Steven Paterson, North Berwick I remember the thrill of sitting in the new South Stand for the World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield in 1993 and thinking that, although I would miss the fun of the old terracing, that we were on the way to having one of the best stadiums in the world (the David Sole marches his team into Grand Slam history. Getty Images


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1990s

West Stand was still under construction at the time). What I didn’t think about was the fact that by building the stadium, the SRU would plunge itself into millions of pounds of debt which would cripple the game in Scotland for years to come. The wonders of hind-sight… Susan McArthur, Dundee I’ll always remember the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield in 1994, although for the wrong reasons! It had been four years since that famous day – but I was 9 in 1990 and perhaps too young to truly appreciate it. Now I was 13; I’d now experienced defeat at the hands of the Auld Enemy and learnt just how important ‘that’ game had been. I was also in my first year of an English boarding school, not to mention a lifetime of English abuse…. now, it was personal! I remember it well… a beautiful day, a newly extended Murrayfield, a new English openside called Neil Back with a dodgy mop of blond hair, Gary Armstrong being stopped agonisingly short by a textbook blind side flanker’s tackle from Jon Hall. But best of all, Rob Wainwright running in from 20 metres to score the only try of the game. The English threw everything at us but they just couldn’t get through an outstanding Scottish defence. Their fullback Jon Callard was kicking superbly though and was keeping them in the game, ultimately edging ahead. Only by two though – this game’s not over. 79th minute, and Gregor drops that goal. ‘Not from that angle!’ I thought, but the lofted arms of the crowd behind the posts told me otherwise. Genius. And 14-12 to us. Surely it’s ours. Just hold on. Then it happened. The dying seconds of injury time and a sharp blow of the whistle. A raised arm to indicate an English penalty. The ref had seen a blue cuff infringing at the breakdown – a cuff, he assumed,

was from a Scottish jersey but was in fact attached to the long white sleeve of Rob Andrew. Callard stepped up – he’d slotted 4 already and just couldn’t miss. He didn’t, and England won 15-14. My first real heartbreak as a Scotland fan rugby. Big Gav broke down in the post-match interview, and I wasn’t far behind! Ed Johnston Stewart, London I’ll always regret not taking a friend up on a spare ticket to watch Scotland play France in Paris in 1995. It looked like we were dead and buried after the first quarter, but then we came back. And the Toony Flip… what a moment… aggghhh, I’ll never be able to forgive myself! Thank God it was in the days before mobile phones, my pal and his friends would have been on the blower straight away and made the whole thing worse if there had been. Ben Simmons, Gala The ‘Toony Flip’ – what a great moment and what a way to seal victory for Scotland for the first time in Paris for more than twenty – indeed, nearly thirty – years. I still think that we could – and should – have wont he Grand Slam that year, but for Rob Andrew once again coming up trumps as the perennial Calcutta Cup thorn in our sides. It was also a great shame that Gregor Townsend was then injured before the World Cup – if he had carried on his form from the Five Nations into the tournament we might well have got all the way to the semi-final… perhaps even the final. Not much chance of that happening these days! That was a great team we had in those days – big Gav at 15, Townsend in the midfield, Chalmers still in good form, Doddie Weir, Kenny Milne and Rob Wainwright at the heart of things in the pack. Super players, all. Kim Woods, Durham


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1990s

1995. I always loved rugby but the ’95 World Cup was when I first became obsessed about it. What a tournament! Jonah Lomu became my new hero – that whole All Blacks side was just incredible. I still wonder what would have happened if we had kept our nerve against France – I reckon we would have had the game to possibly beat the Springboks. But then, perhaps it was fate that South Africa went on to win the tournament.

What a start to the Championship in 1999 – I was convinced that John Leslie hadn’t heard the whistle or something and that he was going to be called back. I was barely back in my seat after the anthems than I was up again. Think I was hoarse after only a minute or two – another record!

Jeff Springham, Manchester (formerly Broxburn)

Stuart Grimes’ try v Ireland in ’99 was one of the best in one of the best attacking seasons Scotland has ever had. What a breakout, what endeavour and skill and calm under pressure. Poetry in motion.

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns GORDON BULLOCH (West of Scotland, Glasgow Caledonians, Glasgow Rugby) 75 Caps: 1997–2005 I was very proud of the way we played in the second-half, we kept them to one try and scored 15 points ourselves. Martin Leslie went over, which was a special thing for him, and it was a great moment when Cammie Murray made that break late in the game and dummied Jonah Lomu to go over. The noise in Murrayfield was like a thunder storm. It was an emotional moment for the guys who were retiring and it was a super testament to them that despite the weather and the result that so many of the crowd wanted to stay on and cheer them farewell. Gary tried to make a speech to us in the changing room afterwards, but he couldn’t manage it. All those years of putting everything into the jersey and he was about to take it off for the last time. Everything that it meant to him was written across his face. Sometimes, you don’t need speeches.

David Lewis, Edinburgh

Murray Flemming, Kelso Townsend, Leslie and Tait: the best midfield backs ever to play together for Scotland. Fact. Jenny Brown, Glasgow I remember (vaguely) watching France v Scotland in 1999 in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. My mates and I had a deal that every time Scotland scored a try we had to down a pint – thought that would be a safe thing to do but then there was this incredibly flurry of tries in the first half and by the time the final whistle went I was totally gubbed… The result the next day certainly sorted out my hangover, though! Fraser Bennett, Edinburgh I didn’t really buy into the World Cup in 1999 – I know, I know, not many people did and it was all a huge embarrassment


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 1990s

and I should have made more of an effort. The South Africa and Samoa and All Blacks games were good though (even though the Samoa game saw a fairly empty Murrayfield, too). It was a shame that Scotland went out in the quarter-finals because that game against New Zealand really showed some tremendous spirit and the crowd really got behind them in that game. It was real end-of-an-era stuff after that game – no more Tait, no more Graham, no more Armstrong… no more Telfer (well, not for a while!). Emotional scenes that salvaged some pride of a fairly disappointing tournament from a Scottish playing and supporting perspective. Joan Torrance, Edinburgh My father first took me to Murrayfield in 1987 and I was hooked immediately. It was Scotland v Wales. The old ground was bursting with fervent passionate Scotland supporters and the atmosphere was electric. I have vivid memories of the marauding Scottish forwards swarming over the Welsh and the legendary ‘White Shark’ diving over in the right hand corner to set the seal on a stirring victory. I missed the greatest day in Scottish rugby history in 1990. Despite possessing absolutely no talent for acting whatsoever, my former headmaster insisted that I act in the school play, something I don’t think I will ever forgive him for. I was also there to experience the agonising pain of Big Gav missing ‘that penalty’ in the 1991 World Cup semi-final. But the two games that linger most in the memory were versus Ireland in 1999 and England in 2000. Two very different games but equally stirring. In 1999, spearheaded by the rampaging pack and TownsendLeslie-Tait axis we played the finest rugby I have ever seen from a Scottish team with Stuart Grimes scoring one of best tries I have seen. In 2000 I remember the torrential rain and the

Alan Tait. Press Association

growing feeling amongst the Scottish supporters as the game wore on that we could win, and then when the ball squirted loose and Gordon McIlwham pounced on it with skill of a seasoned openside and then Duncan Hodge crashed over the line, the crowd erupted into pandemonium. We had avoided the whitewash and in doing so denied the all conquering English a Grand Slam. A sweet, sweet victory! Dave Johnston Stewart, Edinburgh


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns ALASTAIR KELLOCK (Edinburgh Gunners and Glasgow Warriors) 27 Caps (to date): 2004–still playing I came off the bench in both those 2008 summer Tests in Argentina and to win the second match was a brilliant, brilliant feeling. It was also one of the toughest, most physical games I’ve ever played and the crowd were just mental. There’s real passion in Argentinean rugby, right from the clubs and the crowd through to the players. They all stick together like brothers in the trenches and that sense of a team ethic is very inspiring. The challenge when you play them is to match that passion and the ferocity that they bring to a game.

2000 – dreadful start to the season – welcome to the Six Nations, Italy! – defeats to Wales, Ireland and France – hello, Wooden Spoon, here we come! – uh-oh, we have England coming up next, they’re fantastic, they’re amazing, they’re world-beaters, they’re coming for the Grand Slam and there is nothing any of those poor wee laddies in blue can do to stop them. Oh, it’s raining – typical Scotland, it’s always raining – not to worry, the English pack is HUGE, they’ll crush the life out of those pathetic wee laddies and then their glamour boys can break loose like they’ve been doing all season, scoring tries for fun. The rain is starting to fall pretty heavily, you know – doesn’t matter, Lol has scored – it was a walk-over, no one laid a finger on him – now the fun will begin. But the boys in white are struggling to keep hold of the ball – and the boys in blue seem to have the bit between their teeth. This is a bit of a slug-fest and one side is beginning to show some real mongrel… and it’s not the favourites. Hodgey keeps dinking them over, bringing his boys back into it, Nicol is harrying and scurrying and driving his forwards on and the midfield backs have built an impenetrable wall – there’s no way

through for the English superstars. But they’ll hang on to their lead and seal the Grand Slam. Of course they will. This is the team of the tournament, no one has come close to them all season… but it’s close now, really close. England will at least be able to say that they at last had a game… But wait a minute, Scotland are advancing into the English 22. The forwards are in control, eating up the hard-earned yards inch by inch, like an incoming tide. The ball slips out, it’s going to be cleared – but look! – Gordy McIlwham is onto it… and Hodgey’s there – what is Hodgey doing there?? – but he’s there and he’s got it, he’s slid through… he’s scored! Hodgey has scored and there’s no time left! Scotland have done the unthinkable and after ten long years the Calcutta Cup is back in Edinburgh. It may have been a torrid year, a Championship to forget… but what a game that was… Fraser McKenzie, Inverness Two of my all-time favourite photos are from the Calcutta Cup in 2000 – and which I perennially send round in an email to all

Opposite: Jason White and Simon Taylor flatten Ben Cohen during the 2006 Calcutta Cup triumph at Murrayfield. Getty Images


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

my English friends when the Calcutta Cup comes round, along with a couple of Jason White putting in some smashing tackles (literally) and of various joy-faced Scots holding the cup after victory (as sporadic as it has been) – but my two favourites are of Duncan Hodge scoring the winning try and of Andy Nicol looking like Dracula after a cheeky jugular nibble as he lifts the cup in the pouring rain. Simon Dowling, Manchester I still remember all the gloating English journalists going on about how it was a foregone conclusion that England would wrap up the Grand Slam at Murrayfield. In fairness they probably had a point – Scotland had been dire that year, England had been sensational and Scotland hadn’t won the Calcutta Cup for a decade. But we Scots love being the underdogs and it’s even better when we’re written-off underdogs. The win was all the sweeter for that. Ewan Macpherson, Jed I was with my brother in the East Stand for the 2000 Calcutta Cup match and went absolutely nuts when Duncan Hodge slid over. I bounded over on to the pitch for a Klinsmann dive in the mud and was promptly dump-tackled and escorted from the field by a Rock Steady security guard with my legs kicking in the air. All worth it, though... Fraser Bennett, Edinburgh Having suffered through ten long years of being bullied and run off the park by our English brethren, it has been a much more tolerable ten years since with three wins and a draw and a nice little stat that we haven’t lost at home to them since 2002 (we’ll

just casually overlook the score-lines at Twickenham and move swiftly on). Murrayfield can be an enigma – sometimes a threequarters full stadium will sound like its filled with 90,000 people (Australia 2009), others it will be at capacity but sound almost empty (most games when France come to town and thump us). But the one fixture that is always a banker for a sell-out and a crowd fired up like they’re at a rock concert is the Calcutta Cup. It is a wonderful old rivalry, a wonderful old cup, and even though England are Scotland’s most fearsome rivals, the camaraderie among the supporters remains (on the whole) wholesome, respectful and civilised – everything that rugby should be. Morgan Thomas, Crieff In the context of the season, it was a positive way to end after four losses despite some fairly decent endeavour. We struggled without John Leslie who was injured out just minutes into the first game against Italy and I think we were still living off the glory from the previous season. I was in New Zealand on holiday to watch the next two Test matches against the All Blacks and although we (inevitably) got stuffed in both games, it was a great tour with some old fashioned mid-week games and gave game time to the newly capped Jason White and Chris Paterson and saw a few other boys get capped who would go on to have good careers for Scotland (John Petrie and Nathan Hines, for example). Why don’t we do longer tours these days? Every other leading nation (if we can still call ourselves that) do it – and it’s great for guys on the fringes of the squad to get a run-out in midweek games. Grant McIlvanney, Ayrshire Do you remember all the furore surrounding Brendan Laney?


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

Duncan Hodge scores the winner against England in 2000. Dave Gibson, Fotosport

The great hope of Scottish rugby – the Chainsaw! You can just picture the scene: Dear Mr McGeechan, My name is Brendan. I play Super 12 rugby for the Otago Highlanders. I’m really good. They call me the ‘Chainsaw’. Please

find enclosed a video of my highlights. I would like to play for Scotland. I can come next week. All the best, The ’Saw.


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

Ian McGeechan looked up from the letter, a small smile playing on his lips and a glint in his eye. He stood and crossed the room to his VCR (it had four heads, you know). He inserted the tape and then returned to his desk. 10 minutes later he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat. He picked up the phone and dialed the internal number for the Director of Rugby’s office. ‘Jim? Hi, it’s Geech. You know how the All Blacks are coming to play in three weeks? Well, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve – we’re going to fly a new boy in from New Zealand and we’re going to unleash him against his own people, they’ll never see it coming. ‘Yes, I’ve seen him play. He’s really good. Scores lots of tries and can kick. A bit rotund, maybe, but I’m sure that adds weight to his tackles. Nice hair too. They call him the ‘Chainsaw’… Yes, the Chainsaw! Hee hee, that had me giggling too – he sounds scary, just what we need! ‘Yes… yes… It’ll be just like the Leslie brothers and Snowy Metcalfe. Yes, I’m sure. OK… Right, I’ll get him a first-class ticket right now. He’ll probably be here in a week or two – should be fine, he’s a Kiwi, he’ll only need a couple of sessions with the boys and he’ll pick up the moves – he’ll probably teach the rest of them a few lessons too! ‘What do you mean, “what about Dezzy Lee and that young Moffat lad”? They’ll understand. I know they’re playing well. But they’re not Kiwis. We need Kiwis. And Aussies. And Saffas. Whatever we can get really. An accent helps, you know that. ‘What was that? Oh, yes, hadn’t thought about that. Umm… we’ll have him play for Edinburgh. Makes the commute from the airport easier. I’ll tell Frank, he’ll be delighted. ‘OK, great. Speak to you soon!’ McGeechan replaced the receiver and sat back in his chair, a satisfied look on his face. 97 years without a win against the All Blacks. With the ’Saw coming in, things were bound to be different this time. As he had just told Telfer, Kiwis are different – they are just better than Scottish players. Full stop. End of. If

Brendan Laney. Press Association

he could have managed it, every player on the team would be from New Zealand. The All Blues. That was the dream. Martin Jenkins, Edinburgh


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

Lansdowne Road 2004; now that was a brilliant trip – cracking banter in the terraces with Micks calling us ‘lippy Smurfs’ due to our blue face paint; later that evening there were several somewhat dazed Irish girls staggering around Temple Bar like dazed Avatars having been ‘blued’ by the marauding Jocks – hilarious and more than made up for the defeat earlier in the day! Despite Clive Woodward griping on endlessly about it, I’ve always loved the pre-match build up for the recent Calcutta Cup victories at Murrayfield. Standing there in the darkness the whole thing is incredibly atmospheric with Highland Cathedral filling the air before all the flames and razzmatazz as the teams come out… and then the whole place booms with Flower of Scotland – spine tingling stuff. And the performances of the players in those recent victories in 2000, 2006 and 2008 and the draw in 2010 have been magnificent – primarily in defence, yes, but no less worthy for that! Fraser Bennett, Edinburgh

Simon Taylor. Press Association

The win over the Springboks in 2002 is one of the great regrets of my life – because I turned down the offer of a ticket to go. I then had to watch it in my flat in St Andrews with a dodgy aerial as Scotland recorded a magnificent victory (albeit with two rather dodgy tries). One of the biggest scalps we’ve taken in decades and I chose to watch it on a snowy telly rather that in the Murrayfield stands – so upsetting! Paul Dorward, St Andrews

Some stags go to the hills, others go to Barcelona, I went to Murrayfield. Dressed as an Englishman. The time-honoured Charles Oppenheim, Fraser Bennett and Rory Corstorphine in Dublin, 2004.


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

celebrations took care of the dreich conditions on a dark afternoon in late November 2009. Scotland tackled a great deal, Australia had the greater share of possession. Shortly after another round of Sweet Chariot the match entered the final fifteen minutes – Scotland ahead by 3. We get a penalty but it is outside Paterson’s range so we go to the corner. The forwards drive their way deep into Australian territory… Paterson drops back into the pocket… 9-3. The Aussie attack is as ferocious as the lashing rain. The blue line holds firm. Time is up but the gold jerseys keep pressing and, inevitably, they score – 15 metres in from the side. Giteau has a conversion to win it. I can’t watch. I take shelter behind one of my ushers. Silence. The crowd erupts. A heroic victory, full of courage and not a little luck. Poor Giteau; jubilant stag. Euan McSherry, Edinburgh

Euan McSherry, Murrayfield, 2009.


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2000s

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2010s

The Player’s View – Extract from Behind the Thistle by David Barnes and Peter Burns MIKE BLAIR (Edinburgh) 64 Caps (to date): 2002–still playing When you’re out on that pitch, you just hope that you can make your own piece of history to add to that legacy . . . and when you get out there, where so many legends of the game have trod before you, and the noise of the crowd is literally trembling through your bones, you know that every one of those faces and voices that are supporting you would do anything to be out there with you.

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence

Opposite: Nick de Luca and Alex Grove celebrate Scotland’s first victory over Australia since 1984. Press Association


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2010s


www.birlinn.co.uk

Memories from the 2010s

Have your memories published here. Email your stories and photographs to

terraces@birlinn.co.uk

or post a comment on the Behind the Thistle Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=144441778930504 Please remember to email or post your full name and city/ town/ village of residence


Tales from the Terraces