Ellon set to surge back as a North-east force

Stewart Cruickshank's penalty kick is just short of the Garioch posts.
Stewart Cruickshank's penalty kick is just short of the Garioch posts.

Ellon’s director of rugby has confidently predicted that the club who currently lie bottom of Caledonian 2 North, will soon be back as a force in the North-east game, writes Jack Nixon

The forecast was made by Gareth Kemp who, over his seven years with the Meadows-based club, has masterminded the youth section.

Our aim is to back to the top flight of Caledonian sooner rather than later

Gareth Kemp Ellon Director of Rugby

He said: “We had a bad season last time round, and were relegated from the top Caley league, and are now struggling in the new environment of Caley 2, but I predict we will end the season in mid-table.”

It is in fact to the under age players that Kemp will be turning in a bid to arrest the decline of the 38-year -old club.

“We shall be bringing in players from our strong under 18 set up after Christmas by which time their league programme will be finished,” said Kemp, who also pointed to the massive restructuring exercise currently going on at the club.

“At the end of last season there were two of us left on the committee, but since then we have set up an 11- strong group who will run the club as a charitable trust.

“They will address all aspects of running a successful club, including having a strong senior team. We are also a club with our roots firmly in the community. Many of our under age helpers are parents who live in the area and have a great sense of community.”

Kemp, 40, who hails from East Sussex, but is now firmly committed to Ellon and in particular the rugby club.

“I am especially proud of the 300-strong under age section at the club who will one day be the future senior players.

“We even have a new section of three-year-olds called the Rugby Rascals who are run by my wife, Emma,” he said, while appreciating that the club will be more likely to be judged by the success of its senior performances.

“It has been disappointing that so many players have left the club to go to other set ups in Aberdeen. We would like to arrest that process.

“If there are players out there who want to play the game, they will be made welcome at the Meadows where our aim is to back to the top flight of Caledonian sooner rather than later.”

Ellon may not be yet ready to return to former glories, which included playing in two Murrayfield finals, gaining six consecutive promotions and remarkably producing a player who went on to play for Scotland, but under director of rugby Kemp could just yet find another Andrew Wilson.

Meanwhile, Ellon’s season of misery continued in the snow at the Meadows on Saturday when derby rivals Garioch ran out 20-6 winners in a fiercely-contested game in which two Ellon players had to leave the field suffering from concussion.

The home side took the lead in three minutes when stand off Stewart Cruickshank dropped goal, only for the visitors to score an unconverted try. Cruickshank hit back with a penalty to give Ellon a 6-5 lead at half-time.

The game was turned on its head just after the interval when three home players were injured.

Despite the handicap Ellon battled on, doing well to restrict the Inverurie side to two tries and a penalty.

The bad news for the Meadows side was the two concussed players will be out of action for two weeks, as per national regulations.

John Keith of Ellon was the man of the match.