IN THE EARLY FIFTIES the only “sevens” tournament of note in the City of Edinburgh was the Murrayfield Sevens organised by the Edinburgh and District Rugby Union. Trinity Acads used to run a tournament at Bangholm but we did not compete. We did however play regularly in the Laswade 7’s (held in September) and the Haddington tournament.
Until 1957 the District Union tournament was dominated by the “semi-senior” clubs – mainly Edinburgh City Police and Haddington. Northern members became a bit fed up with this state of affairs and at the half yearly general meeting in 1954 it was proposed that Edinburgh Northern should host a tournament for the “No-hopers” who would play for a “minnows trophy”. On reflection it was decided that the “minnows” tag was rather patronizing and would not go down too well, so on the 16th of April 195-5 8 clubs fought for the Northern Shield for the first time. The shield was replaced by a cup in 1962. The following clubs were on duty that day : Edinburgh Northern, Corstorphine, Lismore, Moray House, Holy Cross, County Rovers (now defunct), Bruntsfield, and Kenmore (the last two clubs later combined to become Murrayfield RFC).
Appropriately enough the first name to be engraved on the trophy was Edinburgh Northern – as was the case in 1958, 1959, and 1966 – but alas not since.
In 1955 Northern was considered as one of the stronger “junior” clubs in the district, and were especially skillful exponents of “sevens”. We reached the final at Murrayfield in 1956 and won the cup in 1957, beating, en route, Edinburgh City Police, who had been the winners for the previous 4 years. The triumphant seven were :- A.Bryce, J.Mcleod, I.Gordon, A.Archbold, M.Bryce, D.Dunsmore, and D.Stewart.
Still on the Murrayfield sevens one particular tie is worth recalling. This was played in April 1954, whilst most of the club were on tour to Swansea to see the Wales v Scotland international which had been frozen off in February (incidentally this was the last international played in Swansea). We left behind a token seven for Murrayfield. In an early round we played Grangemouth and after what must be a record 37 minutes the score was still nil-nil – the deadlock eventually being broken by a Grangemouth try. And all this with the temperature somewhere in the seventies.
- Between 1955-1961 the sevens roll of honour read as follows :
- 1955 – Winners Northern Sevens
- 1956 – Finalists Haddington Sevens – Finalists District Sevens
- 1957 – Winners District Sevens – Finalists Northern Sevens – Finalists Haddington Sevens
- 1958 – Winners Northern Sevens
- 1959 – Winners Northern Sevens
- 1964 – Finalists Northern Sevens
- 1965 – Finalists Northern Sevens
- 1966 – Winners Northern Sevens
Other tournaments we were regularly invited to were :- Currie, Heriot’s Under 20’s, and Haddington Old Crocks. In addition we have been ever presents at Penicuik (since 1965), Lismore (1974), Holy Cross (1978), and in recent years we have sent a social seven to Banff for an alcoholic weekend. Regretfully in none of these tournaments have we made our mark on the field, despite an excellent performance in the beer tent.
We have also appeared at Ross High Under 21’s (1979-84), Bearsden, and Oban Lorne.
In the early 1970’s the District sevens as we knew them, were supplemented by a all-embracing tournament which took in the “big guns”. On one memorable day in 1976 at Raeburn Place, this led to a confrontation between Edinburgh Northern and a Boroughmuir side which consisted entirely of “lnternational Players” of one kind or another viz: Bruce Hay, Bill Watson, C Hogg, Peter Millican (full “caps”), D.Watson, Mike Ballie (B”caps”), Norman Morrison (Schoolboy “cap”)
We lost 0-46!!! Ask Ian Brechin about it. He keeps wittering away Max Boyce fashion –
[i]”I know because I was there”[/i]
But back to the Edinburgh Northern Sevens. By 1961 we had persuaded the Edinburgh District Council to let us have another pitch at Inverleith Park and in April 1962 we used two pitches for our tournament for the first time. The number of participating teams was therefore increased to 16. We then introduced a Plate tournament in 1972 and continued with this format for the next 13 seasons.
It was Alan Muir, who later became Club President, who first launched the idea of trying a “Hong-Kong” format for our tournament with 24 teams competing for 3 trophies.
In 1986, with some trepidation we used this format for the first time. It was an immediate success and continues to be so, but this success depends on a lot of hard work and preparation. Even now, no sooner has one tournament finished than a subcommittee is thinking ahead to the next season.
The first winners of the Northern Cup at the augmented tournament were Lismore, with the Inverleith Bowl going to Currie and the Pond Plate to Ross High.
Although the 3rd Saturday in April does not give us a “clear field” (the main opposition being Hawick, Peebles, and North Berwick) Inverleith Park on that day is considered a very attractive alternative. From time to time we have induced some of the larger clubs, notably Heriots FP, Royal High, Edinburgh Acads, Edinburgh Wanderers, and Corstorphine to enter very strong teams.
Two years stand out – 1991 and 1995. In 1991 we persuaded the Stewarts Melville FP Seven who had won the 1982 Middlesex Sevens to enter our tournament almost “en bloc” – Dougie Morgan being the only absentee. Needless to say, in the guise of the Presidents V11, they won comfortably. These are the illustrious names :-Simon Scott, John Mackenzie, Douglas Wylie, Andy Blackwood, Alec Brewster, Jim Calder, and Finlay Calder.
1995 was notable for different reasons :-
Firstly the tournament was enhanced/marred by two streakers – both male form a guest touring side, St Georges Medical School London.
Secondly we had our largest crowd ever – The two facts we believe are totally unconnected!!!!