Glasgow Hawks


World Veteran’s Rugby Festival – September 2008.
World Veteran’s Rugby Festival – September 2008.

The reek of wintergreen across the Roseburn pitches at Murrayfield added to the sensation of nostalgia, as over 200 teams drawn from across the globe walked, jogged and laughed their way through a week-long festival. This superbly organised event was enjoyed by all. But don’t think for an instant that it was not competitive as will be revealed here.


The scraping together of a squad was magnificently undertaken by Andy Dunlop who deserves something from the birthday honours list to mark his achievements. The opening ceremony was almost as spectacular as Beijing and involved marching from Edinburgh Castle esplanade to the Spiegel tent in Charlotte Square. The reward for this unnecessary exertion, considered a late training session by many, was free beer.

3,000 participants marching behind the massed pipes and drums set off and as the host nation the Scottish teams were up first and in alphabetical order. Our mighty squad proudly displayed the “Anniesland Anarchists” banner held by Mark, a guest player from Australia and supported by Graham Docherty as well as Julie, Ailidh and Jenny Docherty! Despite being a Monday night - Andy managed to join them for the free beer.


We were comfortable winners against a Western Australian combined side who selected Charlie Dunlop as man-of the-match. But they don’t play a lot of rugby union in Western Australia do they? Bolstered by a few boys from Vale, USA, we played some entertaining rugby. Craig Eason forgot that he had not played for over a decade and ran around like a 20 year old until his back gave way. Fortunately Graham Waddell was able to slow things down in the mid-field to allow this rest to catch up.

The enormous Beer Marquee was alive with Golden Oldies accompanying the band in a general singalong and competing for the best T-shirt slogan. “The older I get, the better I was” was a bit of a favourite.


Guest Teams were all at Musselburgh races and an apparently, entertaining, tour of the castle. “You know why Edinburgh has the 1 o’clock gun? Coz it would have been too expensive at 12 o’clock.” (Well the tourists seemed to like it.)


We played a combined side from Boston College (old boys) and a New York side. Although running out winners it brought back memories of USA tours in which you remember that they tackle like they are wearing helmets. They never seemed to tire of hitting Doc, so we all, bravely stayed in support just a few yards behind. Ferg was Man-of – the match but the highlight was Walter Malcolm beating the defence from behind his own goal-line and sending Donald Wilson on a run for the line. For the first 50 yards he looked majestic, as his formerly golden locks, now slightly more silver, splayed behind him. Chased by a slightly balding, slightly overweight hooker, the last 49 yards were like a Tarantino movie in slomo, capturing every ounce of the sinewy, energy sapping effort on the lightly packed foam rubber surface that had somehow, replaced the pitch. Or so it seemed.

I think Alan Pirrie scored a few tries in that one.


Stayed in bed recuperating.


Those who had played earlier in the week were stiff and sore. The Vale boys had succumbed to injury and whisky so we drafted in a few from Paisley and other exotic parts for our match against the much fancied Baggie Pipers featuring Cammy Glasgow, Mike Hall and they would have had Ian Paxton but for a broken jaw sustained in an earlier round. (Told you it was competitive).

“No fool like an old fool” quipped Rob Wainright before replacing Gavin “Get into these ECWs” Hastings who claimed a hamstring injury. His questionable tactic of lobbing high floaty passes to the smallest guy in our team so that the ball and the opposition arrived at precisely the same moment, meant that Stuart Simmers was delighted to see him go.

In a match thoroughly enjoyed by the touchline crowd we surprisingly won out by about 14 tries to 12 – lots of skill and running but not too much tackling. To avoid tackling you can wear red shorts which means that you can “claim” the player rather than tackle.

Now, no one explained to the rules committee that “claim” has a very different meaning in Glasgow. So I can only apologise deeply to 85 year old Eason Roy for this slight language difficulty that led to that unfortunate incident.

Our star man was Wally from Paisley who scored 4 tries.

So an unbeaten run was repeatedly toasted in the marquee until late Saturday evening. By that time plans were being hatched for the next Vets Festival – Sydney 2010! Yahoo!

Kenny Hamilton.

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