TOURING was once very much a part of club rugby and at Easter 1969, members of Irvine Royal Academicals RFC, now Irvine RFC, headed to Chester for their then annual tour.
The Maroons lost narrowly in their opening game to Runcorn but beat Halewood on the road home.
Fortunately for the participants, another great rugby tradition is that "What happens on tour, stays on tour" – so a veil of secrecy has been drawn across that particular episode in the history of the local rugby club.
With the exception of the coach driver (far left), everyone else in the photograph retained their links with the club over the next few years, unless they left the area.
Some continued their involvement until they stopped playing but others are still regular attenders at games at Marress.
Sadly, Jimmy McDowall and Joe Hobson, both of whom were made Honorary Presidents of the club, are no longer with us.
Pictured (left to right) in Bank Street before boarding the bus for the trip south are.
Bus driver; Jimmy Williamson, Bill Nolan, Jimmy McDowell, Bill McCulloch, Alastair Kennedy, Ronnie Alexander, George Blackie (at back), Alan Stirling, Willie Kerr, David Grier, John McHarg (behind), John Paton, Harry Fox, Alastair Camlin, Peter Coull, Bill Browning, Campbell Cunningham (behind), Jim Gemmell, John Shearer, Joe Hobson, George McDowall.
Rugby clubs are built on traditions and we are encouraging former Irvine players to come back and get involved again in some way with the club. Hopefully this picture of the touring squad from 40 years ago will jog some memories and help to spread the word."
If you know someone who played for Irvine, either at Quarry Road or at Marress, please pass on this invitation to them.