Accies’ museum plans hailed

The museum would include a celebration of the first Calcutta Cup match, played at Raeburn Place in 1886

The museum would include a celebration of the first Calcutta Cup match, played at Raeburn Place in 1886

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PLANS for a museum celebrating 150 years of rugby at “the cradle of the game” have been backed by some of the club’s greatest former Scotland internationals.

Edinburgh Accies have unveiled proposals for an ambitious development at their Raeburn Place home aimed at transforming the historic ground into a modern rugby hub complete with 5000- capacity stadium and four rentable retail units.

Among the blueprints are designs for a heritage museum which have now been championed by former greats Rowan Shepherd and John Allan.

The stadium played host to the first ever Calcutta Cup match while Edinburgh Accies are credited with being the second-oldest rugby club in the world.

John Allan, dubbed the original “Jockbok” after turning out for South Africa and Scotland, played hooker for the Accies during the early stages of a glittering career.

Speaking about the museum proposals, he said: “I think it’s fantastic that the Accies are doing something like this. Without history you don’t have a future. If you marry both together then you have a proper plan for the way ahead.”

Ex-Accies player and former Scotland full-back Rowan Shepherd also supported the museum plans.

“I remember visiting the old national museum at Murrayfield and found it fascinating to find out more about the roots of the game because I hadn’t done much then,” he said.

“This Accies museum sounds great because it will offer fans a chance to find out how the game began and all about the first Calcutta Cup match.”

The historic club could be set to steal a march on the SRU, which plans to revive a rugby museum at Murrayfield decades after the previous archive was bulldozed as part of the West Stand refurbishment in 1993.

Edinburgh Accies has the notable distinction of supplying more capped players for Scotland than any other club, including greats GPS MacPherson (captain of the 1925 Grand Slam team), Douglas Elliott, Brian Neil, Rodger Arneil, David Sole (captain of the 1990 Grand Slam team), Rob Wainwright, Scott Murray and, more recently, Mike Blair.

Club secretary John Wright said: “This club has a rich history and it should be celebrated. Tourists regularly visit the ground due to its history, so there is plenty of interest amongst fans.

“For the past few years we’ve been based in a temporary clubhouse so all of the club’s rare artefacts have been in storage. It will be good to get it displayed.”

The ambitious project has also received the backing of tourism chiefs at VisitScotland, who are keen to increase visitor footfall outwith the city centre.

Manuela Calchini, regional director at VisitScotland, said: “Edinburgh Accies have played a pivotal role in the history of rugby and a museum would be a fitting way to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary.”