Currie rugby club are poised to begin a major fund-raising effort after securing £45,000 towards the cost of a £75,000 refurbishment project at their Malleny Park ground.
The award is the result of an application for funding from Sportscotland and Scottish Rugby through the Scottish Government’s “Cashback” scheme, while Edinburgh city council is to work with the club in this financial year with a £20,000 grant towards the new pitch.
President John Muir says the cash will be mainly directed towards the club’s thriving youth section and marks a further milestone in a battle back from the brink.
In August 2005 a predecessor admitted the club was a “hair’s breath” from closing its doors, partly due to the lack of £18,000 that had been promised by the SRU’s then administration.
But Muir said: “Much of the recovery is due to the way (director of rugby) Iain Russell has been balancing the books and we are now within sight of having all our youth players able to train and play at Malleny Park.
“The plan is to create two new pitches on an area of grazing land behind the current first team pitch and 60 metres up a hill. Plenty of hard work will be required because there is a 2.5 metre slope in the land.
“While there are still permissions required for a change of usage to create the extra pitches, work on the dressing-room refurbishment will start much sooner.
“The facilities affected are in a block adjacent to our car park and will make a real difference when completed.
“We have over 250 youngsters in teams aged from P3 up to under-18 (colts).
“So far as grants are concerned the club have to come up with 20 per cent of total costs and that is contained within the £30,000 we have to raise.
“Because the youth section will be the chief beneficiaries in not having to play away when the pitches are in use at Malleny Park they’ll be fronting various ideas that are in the pipeline.”
Back when Currie nearly went under, club official Gordon Haggart was part of the team that led the recovery.
He said then that the hardest part was telling members of the financial position.
“Something had to be done and a first step involved telling people the position,” he later told the Evening News.
“It was very, very hard to ask for help because it is so easy to look inwardly and downwards. Having recognised the problems we had to look outwards and the response was amazing to the extent that the club’s neighbours, who had never previously taken much interest, threw themselves into the rescue.”
That same spirit is sure to be called upon and another series of innovative ventures appear destined to get under way soon at a club who were among the first to raffle first-team jersey sponsorship, while a dinner was held in London drawing on Currie’s well-wishers from further afield.
Muir added: “As always we will be looking to run the club in a business-like manner and look forward to welcoming the RBS Rugby Force next month when sponsors and members set aside a day to help improve facilities. All this is happening at the end of a season where we saw Matt Scott become the first player to come right through from our mini-system to the full international set-up while Dougie Fife gained a man-of-the-match award on his full Edinburgh debut last season (against Ospreys).”
n Musselburgh and North Berwick rugby clubs have also benefitted from the “Cashback” scheme to the tune of £45,000.
At Musselburgh the money will be used not only for improved changing rooms but also to update a floodlighting system at Stoneyhill that was one of the first in the country to be installed for rugby purposes.