Murrayfield Wanderers has a long "family tree". However, it can be looked at as 3 phases:
i Edinburgh Wanderers history
ii Murrayfield history
iii Murrayfield Wanderers history.
Information on each of these periods is being added as we find venerable members who can both remember the period and also still write! But if you can't wait, come and drink in the bar and collar one of the members.
i The History of Edinburgh Wanderers Football Club - Founded in 1868
The clue to the great age of the Club is contained in its title. ‘Football’ not ‘Rugby Football’. In the days before 1870, teams would meet and decide whose rules were to be observed and it was only after this date that sides polarised into Rugby or Association.
In 1868 the Wanderers Football Club was formed in Edinburgh, but the precise date of formation in that year remains a matter for speculation because many of the Club’s oldest records were lost in London during the Second World War.
Wanderers would have been the ninth Founding Member of the Scottish Football Union (SRU) had the then Secretary of the Club attended the Inaugural Meeting of the Union in 1872. However, it is of interest to note that in common with five other Scottish clubs, Edinburgh Wanderers FC was admitted to the Rugby Football Union in 1872 . Wanderers joined the Scottish Football Union in 1873 and withdrew from the RFU later the same year.
The Scottish Football Union changed its name to the Scottish Rugby Union in 1924 and moved to its own new ground Murrayfield in 1925.
The Club was established by Herbert Radcliffe as the first really open football club in the East of Scotland. The Club played all its games away from home in its early existence, as it had no ground; but in season 1875/76 it became joint occupiers of the Grange Cricket field at Raeburn Place with Edinburgh University. From 1877 – 1902 Wanderers alone occupied the Grange ground, as the University moved to Corstorphine for its matches.
In 1902, Wanderers became tenants of the Scottish Rugby Union at the Union Field, Inverleith. Nearly three decades later in 1928, the Club moved to become SRU tenants at Murrayfield.
In 1975, the club were the first club in Scotland to start up mini rugby. It all started in September 1975 with an exhibition game at half-time, during a memorial match, Edinburgh Wanderers Select v. Irish Wolfhounds, on the main international pitch to commemorate the life of Arthur Smith (Arthur Smith played for Edinburgh Wanderers, and captained Scotland (33 caps 1955-1962) and the British Lions. The half-time entertainment was a demonstration game of a new form of rugby – Mini Rugby, with pupils recruited from Melville College.
The following weekend, three volunteer coaches (Mike Dawson, John Douglas and David Milne) were overwhelmed by 238 children turning up in the pouring rain, all eager to try out this new brand of rugby. Thankfully, coaching that day was augmented by the SRU Head Groundsman, Jim Thain. In the second year, Alex Telfer joined the coaching team. Within the next three years, many of the Club’s regular Mini players had out-grown the age limit of 12 and hence Midi Rugby was born.
A small Mini Tournament of six clubs was held in year 2, sponsored by Royal Bank, who continued to support the tournament for some seven or eight years. Then the National Playing Fields Association took over sponsorship. This Mini tournament continues to this day. In the early days, teas for 600+ kids at height were organised by Christine Shuttleworth (nee Keppie), Amanda Hogg and Mrs Dennis. Since these early days were before any real clubhouse, a huge marquee was lent by the Boys Brigade. United Biscuits provided much of the food. This effort continues: in 2014, we had about 500 kids, with many of the parents providing all the food and support functions.
Over the years, the Mini-midis have been innovative in how to fund-raise and/or involve the community. In 1976, we held a public fireworks display in order to raise funds. £400 of fireworks were purchased; 300 big posters went up from Barnton to Morningside and Wester Hailes. On the first year approximately 2000 spectators came to watch! In the second year, it grew to 3500 spectators, but fell to around 800 in the 3rd year when the City Council copied the idea. The displays were held on the back pitches between the 2 sets of goal posts nearest West Stand. Six holes were dug (18” x 18” and 24” deep) for the mortar tubes!!
Advertising for Mini Rugby was initially by word of mouth. Soon after starting, Alex Telfer visited local schools, to spread the word. As other clubs took up the idea, fixtures were arranged. But this has also resulted in the interested players being spread over many clubs, and our numbers reducing.
(See MW History for more recent schools approach).
In 1995/96, a Ladies section was formed. They have since provided many Scotland caps, and have proved themselves to be consistently the dominant side in Scotland.
EW opened their own clubhouse in the 60s, in Greenside Lodge on the Corstorphine Road, opposite the Murrayfield Hotel, while continuing to change at Murrayfield. In the 90s they moved into the Murrayfield complex, with their changing rooms and bar being in the same building for the first time.
ii The History of Murrayfield Rugby Club - Starting in 1916
Murrayfield RFC was inaugurated in 1971 following the merger of two old established rugby clubs, Kenmore RFC and Bruntsfield RFC who both played at the Murrayfield back pitches with the ambition to rising to the top of Scottish Rugby.
Kenmore RFC was formed in 1916 by three students at Heriot Watt College in Edinburgh’s Chambers Street, one of whom hailed from the village of Kenmore in Perthshire, hence the name. They advertised in the local paper and 40 people attended the meeting in the YMCA in St. Andrews Square.
The first Fixture was played in January 1917 against the Munster Fusiliers then stationed at Glencorse Barracks. Other matches followed against Royal High School F.P. at Pinkhill, Dunbar and City Police before they secured a pitch of their own at the Murrayfield Polo Ground (now Murrayfield Stadium).
Matches had to be suspended until after the War as most players were being called up to service in the Armed Forces.
Around 1920 the Clubs activities restarted playing home games at Duddingston until a pitch was rented from the SRU now the owners of Murrayfield.
The 1960’s were difficult times for recruitment so arrangements were made with the Gordon Highlanders, stationed at Redford Barracks to offer their players the opportunity to play Saturday Rugby.
The upturn in player numbers allowed the Club to Tour so our annual fixture with Bryncoch RFC in Neath was started in 1962.
With the advent of League rugby, the amalgamation with Bruntsfield RFC and a small club mainly made up of Boy Scouts (County Rovers RFC) was seen as he way forward.
ii The History of Murrayfield Wanderers Football Club - Starting in 1997 .
Edinburgh Wanderers and Murrayfield merged in 1997, to form Murrayfield Wanderers. For 2-3 seasons prior to this, they had shared a clubhouse at Murrayfield. So the merger was an easy and non-contentious decision.
In the 1990s a Touch Section was formed. This has grown to be weekly event, which is held in all weathers every week throughout the season.
A fund-raising Trust was mooted in 2006, but officially the Murrayfield Wanderers Rugby Trust Foundation was formed in 2007, and received charitable status in November 2007. Its aims are to enhance life opportunities, well being, healthy living for the local young people, specifically via rugby. This is done by going into schools with a funded Development Officer. Our first Club & Community & Development Officer and longest serving DO has been Stuart Dennis, with Murray Hastie being the current DO.
In addition to the DO, the Club and Trust Foundation have worked (in partnership with the SRU) to employ several SVQ / Modern Apprentices - Scott Lynes, Matt Lynn, Sarah Quick, Andy Thorburn, Jamie Thorburn, Katie Grant, Luke Mancini, Kerr Rutherford and Lachlan Lee. Their collective brief has been to undertake “missionary” work in the local community, primary and secondaty schools and to encourage youngsters to benefit from rugby at Murrayfield Wanderers.
Over the years, countless adults have given up their time to assist the mini-midi section, and this is always appreciated. Some in particular deserve to be highlighted, in addition to the Founding Fathers of Mini and Midi Rugby:
Jock Anderson, Denis Martin, George Montgomery, John Shearer, Jim Grant, Derek Robson, Gordon Dodds, Roger Goldie, Arnie Yule, Stuart Dennis.
Additionally several internationalists have played Mini or Midi rugby for us: e.g. Mike Blair, Gordon Ross, Marcus Di Rollo, Ally Donaldson and Ross Rennie.
In 2018, the club celebrated 150 years of rugby, including a gala dinner at Murrayfield attended by over 300 guests. Ironically, also in 2018, the SRU terminated our tenure at Murrayfield, ending a tenancy between the SRU and MWFC which stretched back to 1902! The club "wandered" to base itself at Roseburn Park, adjacent to Murrayfield.