Now that the 2008-2009 rugby season has finally come to an end, on behalf of Gordon Wilson and his Committee, I wish to thank you for the support, both financial and on the touchline, that you have given this year.
In this difficult economic climate your support is invaluable in keeping amateur sport alive.The season has had some good success both on and off the field. The 1st XV performances have moved from a low base last season when we were nearly relegated to a creditable 5th position in National League 2. We seemed to play better away from home with victories at Caithness, Inverness, Newton Stewart, Forrester and Hillfoots and a draw at Stewartry than we did at home.
Apart from a bit of a slump in the league after the New Year the coaches felt that we had made good progress especially with the introduction of so many young players into the side. There are now three former Glasgow Academy boys in the front row, Fabi Marchetti, Matteo Giovanazzi and, in his first season out of school, Chris McAlpine. To this young trio you can add the evergreen Alan Perrie now aged 44.
Other youngsters in the pack are the highly promising Jack Walker from St. Columba’s School and Chris Wright a Herioteer. Also in the pack we must mention Cruz Kawkameni, who joined us from Allan Glens at the start of the season and who from the second row scored no fewer than 18 tries. This must be a record for a second row forward.
The backs were greatly strengthened by the return of Richard McKnight and Stewart Smith from Hawks. Richard captained the side after the pre season injury to captain Jamie Doig that kept him on the sidelines for the whole season. Hopefully he will make a full recovery to captain the side next season.
The star find of the season proved to be Ali McLaren when he was moved to full back from his usual customary position at either scrum half or stand off. It also solved our goal-kicking problem, as he is an excellent goal kicker. Mike Hermes continued to score tries on the right wing and appeared to find a new lease of life as the season came to its end. Craig Wright returned to the Club at the end of the season and plugged a major gap in the centre of the field.
The experiment of bringing in a New Zealander was only partially successful. Ryan Moseby proved to be an excellent centre threequarter but unfortunately broke a rib in the first game of the season and missed the next four games. Just when he was settling in and about to start a new job he got word from home that his father had been injured and he was urgently required on the farm as 4000 ewes were about to give birth.
The threequarter line suffered with injuries and unavailability and consequently lacked continuity and consistency of performance. There was, however, one really good period in the season when the side performed heroically and that was in the Scottish Hydro Electric cup and shield. It started with a convincing win against Strathendrick that set us up for a game against Selkirk. Although we lost 22-0 the side put up a highly spirited performance that really impressed our Premier 1 opponents, as the result was not certain till the end of the match. By losing we moved into the shield competition, incidentally won by Hawks, where we beat Kilmarnock and Annan away from home to reach the quarterfinal stage. Again we were unfortunate enough to have to play away from home, this time against Peebles who finished in third place in Premier 2. In a pulsating game we ultimately were beaten by 45-22 a result that flattered our opponents as they had two breakaway tries and conversions in the dying moments. If we had only played with this level of intensity throughout the season things might have been very different.
Donald Reid, Director of Rugby has built up an excellent coaching team and hopes to add to it during the closed season. One major success has been the installation of a weight training facility in one of the squash courts. This was organised by Duncan Beattie and paid for by him and a number of his friends. He also received help from the SRU in the form of equipment. It is well used by the players and will be extensively utilised during the summer months. We are extremely grateful to Duncan for his endeavours and the continuing help he gives by supervising the training in the gym.
Off the field we have seen far more use being made of the Clubhouse with an increase in social activities. The Burns Supper and Rugby Dinner were fully subscribed with over 100 attending in each instance and the Boxing Day match had its best ever attendance as it appeals to families of all ages. At the Dinner Jonnie Beattie was awarded a tankard in recognition of the prestige he has brought to the Club by winning his full Scottish caps.
We have received numerous letters of thanks from our opponents for our hospitality. New Anniesland seems to be the place that players want to visit especially for the quality of the playing surface and the friendliness in the Clubhouse after the match.One innovation that has been well received is the afternoon tea for sponsors after the match. It was encouraging that so many more of you came out the ground on a Saturday and that helped us in every way. We will certainly continue this arrangement next season and we ask that you spread the word to encourage more people to join us.
A further innovation for the coming season will be the installation of a new website. From this you will find news of all the activities, fixture list, kick off times, team lists, player profiles and a multitude of information that will be of interest to all members of the Club. It is hoped that it will be up and running by mid summer.
We have received some truly generous donations from our members for which we are extremely grateful. The Club runs on a budget of approximately £25K of which £5000 is spent on travel to places such as Thurso, Inverness, Castle Douglas, Newton Stewart etc. £5000 goes on medical expenses, £5000 on kit, balls etc., £5000 on hospitality includes afternoon teas for sponsors and finally £5000 on players expenses and miscellaneous, mainly travel. From this you can see that your support is so important to us.
For this we thank you. I hope that you have an enjoyable summer and look forward to meeting you again at the start of next season.
Yours in Rugby,
Alasdair Graham – Club Secretary