I hope very much everyone had a fantastic Christmas and that you a dram or two, or something else of your choosing, on Hogmanay and are now looking forward to huge 2023 !
Just wanted to drop you all a note and thank you sincerely for everything you have done for the club throughout our centenary year and of course before and hopefully beyond!
We have big plans for engaging our membership going forward which I will come on to shortly!
Just to re-cap, the trustees started planning the Centenary year of events way back!
It was May 2019 when the first draft Calendar of Events was proposed with the plan to involve the whole club from Mini & Micros through to supporters and everyone in between.
So, very quickly, that included;
A New Website http://www.highlandrugbyclub.com
Centenary Year Senior team playing shirts
Highland Centenary Tartan
Community Engagement Events, including
- 100 food hampers for the homeless and elderly in need, organised by the senior players
- 100 good deeds for those less fortunate, by our junior age group including packing boxes and vans with donations to the Ukraine appeal.
In April the Vets and U14s went on Tour to La Baule – celebrating our 100th and La Baule’s 50th. Sadly due to a positive Covid test the day before departure, not everyone made the trip! Also sadly, La Baule had to postpone their planned return visit, however delighted that this will be going ahead in 2023!
June saw the Inaugural Inverness City 7’s along with merchandise to match and what a weekend it was! Combined with The Highland Beer, Gin and Whisky Festival and with engagement for all age groups, it really brought the club together with lots of shared sunscreen!
The weekend couldn’t have happened without an enormous number of volunteers. 120+ gave up their time. It was a brilliant festival of rugby at all age groups with a couple of brilliant parties thrown in …..
We also had a fantastic Senior Players Centenary Ball at the Drumossie Hotel in June, really well attended and a great night had by all!
Up next was the Centenary Exhibition in the Town House, put together by Roy Sinclair, Ian Nixon and Karen Latif with a host of contributions from members old and young. Exhibition space was kindly donated free of charge by Highlife Highland in the Museum and a whole bunch of members volunteered to guide visitors through the clubs history throughout the month of July.
July also brought the Scotland 7’s squad for a training camp at Canal Park in preparation for the Commonwealth Games (not something that we planned, but definitely not something that should be forgotten either)
Over a huge weekend in August, we enjoyed a Civic Reception at the Town House (delayed from January due to Covid) courtesy of Highland Council. The next day was our first pre-season match against Edinburgh Accies and followed in the evening by the Centenary Dinner and Charity Auction, again at the Drumossie Hotel. Guest speakers, Lindsey Smith from the SRU, Mark Palmer from the Times, Ex Highland and Scotland front row Moray Low, Lions & Scotland legend Dr James Robson, a guest appearance by the injured Kelly Brown all of whom were superbly managed by MC Bruce Aitchison ( Happiness is Egg Shaped)
Sun 14th August was our Centenary Golf Day at Castle Stuart with some of our members new and old managing to get through all 3 events …….. although some maybe worse for wear on Monday morning ………
September, was the Charity Cycle with a dozen or so finely tuned athletes raising an astonishing £11 665.42 for our chosen Charities, really an outstanding achievement and really can’t thank the cyclists enough !
The cycle was swiftly followed by our hosting of Glasgow Warriors at Canal Park for training and community engagement . Then at Caledonia Stadium on Friday, sadly without the unfortunate Worcester Warriors, but we are very grateful to Ayrshire Bulls for stepping into the void created by the demise of the former and making at a great evening for rugby in the north of Scotland.
Our Centenary Themed Ladies Day in October was a brilliant day! The men were kicked outside to brave the elements whilst the girls had a party to remember! Huge group of people were involved in organising the event which btw also raised a bunch of cash for our chosen charities.
Our Centenary Book and Highland centenary Tartan were launched on the website in November, both of these initiatives have been driven by Trustee Karen Latif; in respect of the former, assisted by Gillian Russell and with contributions from dozens throughout the decades, it really is a great HRFC keepsake ……….. (still a few left, if you haven’t got yours yet)!
Sincere thanks for your determination in bringing both of these to fruition Karen.
This month, we had the Vet’s organising 100 Christmas Gifts for disadvantaged kids and once again, an outstanding effort led by Andrew Russell saw the Vets raising £4200 ……….. allowing substantially more than 100 gifts to be purchased with additional donations to 2 local children’s charities!
So that was the Centenary Year events ……………. most clubs just have a dinner!
Over and above the Centenary shenanigans, I would like to thank all of those who volunteer every day, from the tireless Alan Milton, driving not only the Club shop and merchandise but also taking our management accounting system forward in leaps and bounds over the last year. Our Director of Senior Rugby, Brian Bell, who does so much work in coaching, admin and player welfare.
But also, to all of the coaches, team managers, helpers, mums who bake and of course all of the players from the youngest to the walking rugby guys and not forgetting the supporters and Trustees all of who giving up their own time to be part of our amazing club! You are the lifeblood of Highland and we couldn’t do it without you!
Next year our new Operations Manager, David Wilson, will be launching a new Volunteers App for your smart phones ……. Clearly won’t help Davie Carson on his Nokia 3210!
The idea is, that the club (David) will post volunteer jobs we need help with on a weekly basis, initially focused on home games but hopefully expanding to become a first port of call for members to be able to volunteer their services for an hour a week or 10 hours a week.
The biggest area we currently need help with is Honest Al’s Emporium – the club shop to those not in the know. If you have a few hours on a Tues, Weds, Thurs, Sat or Sunday, please don’t wait for the App, just speak with Alan or David Wilson at anytime.
One of the highlights for me this year has been the amount of incredibly positive social media and mainstream media coverage that has been generated throughout the year in both support and reflection of the various events.
Driven by Helen Ross and Eilidh Marshall of ‘Whale Like Fish’ PR. We have had news coverage in The Sunday Times, The National, The Scotsman, Herald, The Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Record, P&J, Evening Express, Scottish Licensed Trade News and all local papers throughout the year. We have been on BBC Radio, the Offside Line along with articles about us in Glasgow Warriors and Worcester Warriors web pages and social media.
Much of this coverage along with our teams performances at all levels has allowed the club to grow significantly in membership, most recently demonstrated by Brian Crush’s Ladies, fielding 35 players last weekend!
With all of the progress over the last 9 years, the last thing we should do is let it go to our heads “let us always remain humble in success and in magnanimous defeat”.
That said, sometimes we should celebrate our victories!
Highland Rugby Football Club is not a good rugby club, it’s a bloody brilliant Rugby Club!
Happy New Year everyone!