Obituary: Robert Kirkwood, Currie Rugby Football Club founder, 77

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Robert Kirkwood, the founder president of Currie Rugby Football Club, has died, aged 77.

Born and educated in Glasgow, Mr Kirkwood joined the Highland Light Infantry where he became a commissioned officer. The regiment was posted to Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising and Mr Kirkwood was seconded to the King’s African Rifles.

He had hoped to make the army his career but a severe injury to his left arm prevented this. After a long convalescence he started a new life.

A post with Ehicon at its Sighthill plant brought him to Edinburgh and a house in Currie. Here he met up with a small group of like-minded ex-rugby players and so Currie RFC was conceived, the aim being to start a club for the benefit of the expanding local community.

Under Mr Kirkwood’s guidance, a plan was prepared and in April 1970 their ideas were presented at a public meeting in Curriehill School.

The club would be called Currie RFC, the name of the local parish, and with permission from Ronnie Paul the club would use playing facilities at the new Currie High School.

The club colours would be black and amber, distinct from all other local clubs.

It was agreed they should go ahead, the club was formed and Mr Kirkwood became founder president.

Under his guidance Currie flourished. The first fixture took place in October 1970, a 2nd XV was formed in January 1971 then a 3rd XV in October of that year.

Despite such remarkable growth, Mr Kirkwood’s ambition was that the club should have its own ground and clubhouse, but finding a suitable site proved difficult.

He turned to Lord Balerno, the club’s honorary president, for advice and in due course a fellow peer, Lord Rosebery, saw fit to offer a lease on ground at Malleny suitable for two pitches. The local authority did likewise for the clubhouse site.

Building the clubhouse was a major DIY task, which Mr Kirkwood devolved to his two vice-presidents, who had the necessary expertise. Club members, however, including the president, did much of the labouring, and even the players pitched in on training nights.

It was a proud moment for the entire club when on November 29, 1980, Mr Kirkwood invited Lord Balerno to formally open the clubhouse of which the club are so proud.

Mr Kirkwood held the reins as president for more than ten years, during which much was achieved. After his stint as president, he was appointed an honorary vice-president and his sons Jim and Keith also played for the club.

Mr Kirkwood moved to South Queensferry, where he lived with wife Rosemary and his extended family. Sadly, he suffered a stroke and despite fighting hard to recover, his health deteriorated further over the last few years.

He died in Corstorphine Hospital on December 20, 2011.