HRH The Princess Royal opens new rugby facility on Deeside

At a time when most clubs are simply seeking to stay afloat after the unwelcome visitation of Covid 19, Deeside Rugby is looking to the future, underlining its commitment to its many members of all age groups who enjoy the facilities at Woodend, Banchory.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 6:31 am
The Mini/Micro demonstration with coach Alec McVean

On Wednesday, September 1 the forward looking club had the privilege of having HRH The Princess Royal officially open their new clubhouse.

The clubhouse was built over the past year in a start/stop process during the pandemic lockdowns.

Overall, there are over 250 playing members waiting to make use of the new facility which nicely complements the splendid playing area with an equally splendid view of Deeside as an added extra.

The plaque unveiled with trustees Lawrence Ross and Ali Grahamslaw in the background

There are also some 50 plus coaches and non - members, all queuing up to gain entry as the 2021/22 season got underway on Saturday September 4 – three days after the official opening.

The days of standing in the wind and rain for after match catering are now long gone.

Deeside Rugby has come a long way since its formation as Aboyne Rugby Club in 1977.

From that inauspicious beginning at Aboyne Green, the club is set to enter a new era which will hopefully see the senior team progress beyond its current position in Caledonia League 4 North, while ensuring its youth teams are equally progressive.

Sharing a comment with Tartan Touch coaches Bruce Strachan and Jim Thomson

Trustee and former president of the club, Ian Finlayson was keen the club should continue to enhance the facilities.

He said: ''We were ambitious right from the time we moved onto the new pitches here in Banchory 10 years ago having moved from multiple sites in Aboyne and Banchory where the facilities were no longer fulfilling our needs and have made stunning progress at a ground leased to us from the Leys Estate.

"The process is never ending, but the clubhouse was always a main aim for us.

"It is a major £175,000 investment, representing a huge leap into the future.''

HRH The Princess Royal unveils the plaque

In the intervening years, full floodlights have been installed, a community trim trail built round the pitch, a new kit shed opened by Hollie Davidson a former student at Aboyne Academy who is now a SRU referee.

Mr Finlayson was proud that HRH The Princess Royal had agreed to open the new facility.

He added: ''We are thrilled to have her officially open the clubhouse, especially given her connection with the area and of course her position as Patron to Scottish Rugby.”

The sun shone on the day, and she was welcomed on site by Mr Alastair McPhie, The Lord Lieutenant and presented to a welcoming party of club officials.

She was escorted by Ian Finlayson onto the main pitch to speak with coaches and players that had been performing demonstrations from the Mini/Micro section and Tartan Touch group and then to other club coaches.

She then proceeded to the clubhouse itself where she met a large number of members and major funders of the project.

The group included past club captain, John Low, the father of Deeside Rugby’s first Scottish international player – Moray Low and his first coach on Aboyne Green, past president Colin Cashmore, who said he remembered Moray as a scrum half not as a prop forward.

HRH The Princess Royal was then invited to unveil a plaque to commemorate the occasion and was then handed a bouquet of flowers by the club’s retiring safeguarding officer, Mrs Lizzie Finlayson.

The bouquet was kindly donated by Mark Paterson, the curator at Cruickshank Botanic Garden and included some sprigs of the cultivar Torramhor lavender in the bouquet being the specific lavender grown on the field which is now the main pitch, in the days that Banchory had a thriving commercial lavender farm and factory.

On leaving, HRH The Princess Royal was played out by the Deeside Rugby pipers.

A great day for all involved and we now look forward to making full use of the new clubhouse both for the club’s own activities but also for other community users.

John Low then presented the club with one of Moray’s international jerseys to go in the clubhouse.

Deeside Rugby is a family-orientated community rugby club based in Banchory, with a catchment area covering the Dee and Don valleys.

Formed in 1977 as Aboyne RFC with a senior team, it has grown to offer rugby to all ages (both male and female) from age 5 upwards.

The 1st XV, and for a short period a 2nd XV and Ladies team, played on the Green in Aboyne.

As demand for youth rugby grew their training sessions were split between Aboyne and Tillybrake Playing Field in Banchory as well as at ground at the Milton, Crathes.

With the move to new purpose-built pitches at Woodend in Banchory in 2011, the club name was changed to Deeside Rugby to reflect the wider catchment area of members.

The move to the single site brought all the playing sections together and generated a ‘one club’ atmosphere, whereas previously many of the sections had had very little contact.