AFTER years of unqualified progress Ellon look near certain to lose its status as a Caley Division 1 side as a consequence of a run of poor results which has taken the club to verge of relegation in the division.
Last Saturday’s 60 - 7 thrashing by champions Aberdeenshire at Woodside was nothing less than shambolic, leaving Ellon with two games to play six points adrift of Mackie FP’s and needing a miracle to avoid the drop.
To have any chance of saving themselves Ellon must beat Highland in Inverness on Saturday, and follow it up with a win at the Meadows, while hoping Mackie come unstuck at St Andrews.
There is, however, one further scenario, which is out of the control of the club, and players.
Should the local championship committee see fit they, could increase the size of the league from 10 clubs to 12 which would spare the blushes of the 36 year old club.
To date no indication of this has been forthcoming, but it is believed the situation is under discussion.
Having taken the lead early in the game at Woodside, the visitors collapsed to a 10 try defeat against a Shire side who will now step up into the national leagues, but first have a semi-final match in the National Shield to come at home against Marr - one of the rising stars of west coast rugby.
After the Woodside debacle, Shire coach Eric Strachan sportingly said: ”I would not want to see Ellon go down. We have had some great tussles with them over the years. The North-east set up would not be the same without an Ellon presence.”
The thriving junior section of the club was dealt a blow at the weekend when its prestigious youth rugby tournament was called of at the Meadows.
“We had no option to call it off, as the forecast was not good. The last thing we wanted was to have 500 youngsters exposed to Baltic conditions, though I am hopeful of being able to run it before the end of the season,” said youth co-ordinator Gareth Kemp.
The youth section could in fact be the salvation of rugby in the town, though not having a second XV has not helped the senior side develop in a season of torment for one of the biggest success stories in the history of local rugby.
The Ellon Times wishes the club all the best in its bid to survive this a most difficult time.
While Ellon were struggling at Woodside, the area’s top side was enjoying its finest moment in a decade. Aberdeen Grammar beat the new champions Ayr in an eight try thriller, emerging 37-17 winners to close in on a place in next season’s British and Irish Cup.
Ironically the team included four former Ellon players, all of whom played major parts in the astonishing win.
Captain for the day Greig Ryan scored two tries, prop Nicki Fraser was the stand out forward of the day, full back Steven Aitken was a rock on which the Ayr attack foundered, while replacement back Mark Ryan came on to ensure his team had a win to remember.
Former Ellon player and coach Kevin Wyness had the privilege of being the acting head coach in the absence of another Ellon coach, as Alex Duncan was on duty in Grenoble with the Scotland Under 18 side.
All of which goes to prove Ellon has the talent. It is just a question of how it nurtures and retains it, which remains the real issue.