FROM a one-off match organised by a new headmaster to a side that has competed in the National Division, rugby at Waid Academy has come a long way in 125 years.
It was in 1887 that Robert Bruce Lockhart arranged a game for staff and pupils of Waid Academy to be played in Elie. Afterwards a meeting was held and it was decided to form a club for the district that would include senior scholars, schoolmasters and former pupils. Because of the collective association with the school the fledgling club was referred to as The Waid Etceteras.
Although little is known about the club in those early days other teams in existence in Fife included Kirkcaldy, Leven, Madras College FP, Newport, Guardbridge and Cupar, and it is almost certain that the Etceteras would have found their early opponents from amongst those clubs. The first recorded match, however, was against St Andrews University.
By the 1890s, as football began to dominate the sporting landscape, rugby was in decline and the Waid Etceteras, along with most of those early Fife clubs, sadly went out of existence.
However from the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s the sport flourished and Waid came back – this time round as Waid Academy Former Pupils Rugby Football Club – with such vigour that they enjoyed success in the North of Scotland Cup.
After losing the 1932 final, the following season they defeated Aberdeen Grammar School FP to lift the prestigious trophy. It would be equivalent to the club today lifting a trophy at National Finals Day at Murrayfield.
Competitive rugby was however again interrupted with the outbreak of World War Two.
The boys at the Academy did maintain their interest in the sport during the war though, through their PE syllabus, and it was during those lessons one of Waid’s most famous sons John Alexander “Jock” Davidson developed under the tutorage of PE master Joey Hughes.
Jock, of St Monans, went on to win three international caps, including making his debut at No. 8 against England in 1959, in a career that included him playing for the London Scottish club.
Following on from Joey Hughes, and while Jock was still making the odd appearance for the FPs, Eddie Macgeachy took over and instilled in his pupils over the next 30 years a similar passion for the game he loved. Although no longer around today, his influence can still be seen in the club.
At the time of Eddie’s arrival, the FPs had been going through a sticky patch but with the support of such stalwarts as Allan Govan, Peter Howling, Dougie Horne, Martin Doig and Jock Calder, he succeeded in raising the profile of the club. The most successful innovation during that time was the annual seven-a-side tournament, first staged in 1954 when eight teams competed for a trophy donated by local farmer Robert Wilson.
Another lean period followed during the late 1960s but the standard of play began to benefit from a new emphasis on coaching and raising levels of fitness. Coupled with the competition for places, the club was by then running three XVs, Waid pushed to reach the newly-established National League.
This drive was matched by enterprise off the field when, in 1974, a chain of events was put in motion that saw the club convert a derelict property in the centre of Anstruther into a clubhouse.
It was opened on September 2, 1983, by SRU president Adam Robson with Waid by that time playing in Division 7 of the National League, having won the Midlands District League in 1981.
Regrettably, that first spell came to an end with relegation in 1987 but an appearance in the Castlemaine XXXX final at Meggetland in 1991 was a good springboard for the following season when the Midlands’ title was Waid’s once again.
There followed a run of five consecutive seasons in Division 7 before the amount of travel became a real hardship for many clubs and there was a growing demand for a regional structure.
After much tinkering, that was put into place by the SRU and Waid find themselves today playing in the divisional championship after securing a top-four spot in the Midlands Division 3 East.
Dundee University are favourites but Waid were encouraged just a few weeks ago when they inflicted the students’ first defeat of the season.
Although a break of 30 years ensued between the folding of the Etceteras and the formation of today’s Former Pupils its fair to say the spirit of the game continues to glow strongly at Waid.
Under the leadership of honorary president Duncan Fraser and club captain Adam Shaw, Waid is in good health and there is a renewed vigour and sense of ambition.
The emphasis on youth development through the Waid Pirates, spearheaded by coach Zander Anderson and Bill Hughes, the current head of PE at Waid, is exciting and with the senior side enjoying a successful season and the over 35s playing for Waid Buccaneers the future of rugby at Waid is in safe hands.
The work begun by Robert Bruce Lockhart 125 years ago looks set to continue.
...and a good time was had by all
WAID FP Rugby Club won praise from a former international star often recalled as Scotland’s greatest ever player.
Gavin Hastings, capped 61 times, congratulated the club as it celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first former pupils rugby club associated with the local school, and acknowledged the camaraderie that was at the heart of that achievement.
He was speaking at a special dinner in Anstruther Easter Town Hall on Friday night, which was attended by 140 club members and guests.
Allan Drysdale, the club’s vice-captain, also spoke. He delivered an amusing Toast to Waid FP before Willie Allan, principal teacher of PE at Buckhaven, rounded off the evening by showing why he is regarded as one of the best and certainly most humorous after-dinner speakers in the country.
Waid president Duncan Fraser said afterwards he was pleased how well the evening had gone and that it had been the perfect way to celebrate the club’s 125th anniversary.
He thanked all those who had organised the dinner, especially Brian Adamson.