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In the beginning………11 September 1968

2 months ago By Malcolm MacDonald

Fifty years ago today, a group of brave souls got together in the Stuart Hotel in East Kilbride to consider the formation of a rugby club.

The Club has the handwritten original minute (record) of the first meeting held to consider the formation of a rugby club. It is only about 1.5 pages long. The note confirms that:

1. The Chairman was Ron Gallacher, who went on to lead the Club as President for some 10 years;
2. The then Provost of EK, John Wright, attended and offered the venture his strong support (more on that later);
3. Some bright sparks suggested that the Club should become a part of the East Kilbride Sports Club at Torrance House, since when we have never looked back (Honestly? queries the Editor? Mutter mutter).

As they had nothing better to do, the meeting agreed to meet again two weeks later, on 25 September 1968, to further explore taking forward the idea of a rugby club. At this second meeting, they seemed to have spent more time discussing rugby related issues, including:

• Discussing how to identify a possible rugby pitch/pitches. In reality, EKRFC had to play all its matches away for the first two years until it joined the Sports Club;
• Provost John Wright announced that the Club could train on the football pitch at Hairmyres Hospital (where our first trial was held on 5 October that year);
• Always intent on a good day out, they agreed to hire a bus to go to watch Scotland v Australia at Murrayfield on 2 November 1968. The bus cost per person 7/- or 35 pence in current money;
• Considerable time was spent discussing a draft Constitution. When they realised that they did not need to agree it all that evening, they promptly retired to the bar!

At the third meeting on 16 October 1968, they made further progress in shaping the new Club:
• Membership fees were £3/3/- (£3.15pence) for adults
• Club Captain – Jerry Hodgson - and Vice Captain Chris Davies were confirmed;

While in some respects it might seem like another age, many of the issues the Club grappled with in its early days are still with us:

 Not everyone paid their membership fees but still wanted to play!! In a meeting in February 1969, it was noted that of the players, some 17 had paid their fees but 13 had not. Sound familiar Scott Aitken?
 The Club Coach later that year grumbled about attendance at training “week after week it was a case of a very poor turn out and the same (old) players turning up”. Sound familiar Allan Steel?
 Match fees were 5/- (25pence);
 The Club appointed its first Coach in 1969 – Gordon Sandilands, who left after one year;
 Bill Niven, the Provost of East Kilbride was appointed Honorary President of EKRFC (he was then followed by Jimmy Smith);
 John Wright (by then ex-Provost) was made the Club’s first Honorary Vice President in recognition of his support for the Club in its early days.

Moving a little bit further on, the Club participated in a new event, the New Town Sevens, for the first time in 1971. The minutes of the AGM that year note that the “event had been a success in every way with the exception of the rugby played by the two teams entered by East Kilbride!” Hmm.

The competition was won by Glenrothes, who won it every year until 1975 when a magnificent team from EK hammered them in the final.

That’s it. I have still to plough through a pile of other handwritten AGM minutes. With luck, I will decide that there is nothing worth sharing with you.

But at least you can be reassured that our predecessors were instrumental in putting down firm foundations for the creation of a very successful rugby club, while drinking several shandies at the same time. While it is all very male dominated, as we know, progress was made on diversity in the 1980’s and more significantly in recent years.

Updated 19:35 - 13 Oct 2018 by Malcolm MacDonald

Where next?

1st XV Team News 1st XV vs Allan Glens
Stewartry 12 – East Kilbride 40 Pride and confidence restored with convincing victory away from home.

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