Happy birthday Penicuik RFC!

Two former Scotland Greats: Jim Aitken Penicuik, Gala and Scotland. Honorary Club Member and Scotland Grand Slam Captain 1984'Ian 'The Bear' Milne. Heriot's, Harlequins, Scotland and British and Irish Lions, guest speaker, at Penicuik RFC's 90th anniversary dinner

Two former Scotland Greats: Jim Aitken Penicuik, Gala and Scotland. Honorary Club Member and Scotland Grand Slam Captain 1984'Ian 'The Bear' Milne. Heriot's, Harlequins, Scotland and British and Irish Lions, guest speaker, at Penicuik RFC's 90th anniversary dinner

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With Midlothian’s three rugby clubs returning to action this weekend we look at contribution made by one of them – Penicuik RFC, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

“It’s a community club in the process of rebuilding,” says club president Eddie Hanratty.

While most clubs would use such a milestone to look back, this local rugby club is looking firmly to the future.

Eddie added: “We now have a very strong youth section. It bodes so well for the club, because in the past that’s been the problem, the numbers. We’re now getting into the schools and working with Youth Development Scotland, so hopefully it’s looking very bright for the future.”

More than 90 years ago, however, it all started from nothing. A press cutting from December 22, 1922, reveals the embers that would later become Penicuik RFC: “In the Public Park on Saturday the game of rugby was played by a number of youths who propose having occasional games.”

By January 1924, the club was officially formed.

Then club captain Alex C Quinn would lead the team out for their first ever competitive game later that month, and the Penicuik institution was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

In April 1924, the club held its first ever official meeting in what is now the Penicuik Town Hall.

Rooted in the community, Penicuik RFC has grown up with the town itself. As the size of Penicuik grew, so did the club, and during the 1960s a third 15 was fielded for the first time. In 1965, they hosted their first ever sevens tournament and by 1970 they expanded the clubhouse to accommodate the four teams they had at the time. In 1981, the club opened a bar and lounge area in the new clubhouse, and upgraded their changing facilities in 1990.

Eddie added: “Our aim is to grow the club. Obviously in terms of rugby, but also in terms of being a great family club. A club where families can come along, sit and have a coffee and a blether, get involved and support the club. I think we’re quite far down the road in doing that now.

“In the past people would sometimes look upon rugby clubs as male domains, but we want to get families involved too, that’s very 
much our ethos.”

Read more in this week’s Advertiser, out now.