The road to Murrayfield and Scottish Hydro Electric Cup Finals Day - a route successfully traversed by Melrose, Garnock, Preston Lodge and Aberdeen University last season - kicks off this weekend. Clubs will be involved in regionalised preliminary round ties and at this stage, finals day, Sunday 10 May, 2009, seems a long way off. But a new season, coupled with the allure of the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup, means pulses will be quickening. None more so than at Bayhead on the Isle of Lewis where Stornoway will be first into Cup action with an early morning kick-off (10am) against their Caledonia rivals Montrose. It's a double celebration for Stornoway as Saturday's fixture marks the opening of the refurbished pitch at Bayhead, which was undertaken at a cost of £213,000, with funding from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Sportscotland.
Montrose are travelling to the Hebrides tomorrow (Friday) and will catch the last ferry back home on Saturday. Their match will be watched by SRU President, Jim Stevenson. He explained: "I met Adrian Macdonald from the Stornoway club at the SRU agm back in June. He’d driven nine hours just to be there and I reckoned catching a match in Stornoway was a good way to highlight not just the start of the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup but also the distances that many clubs in Scotland travel on a regular basis because of their love and commitment to the game."
Sponsor, Scottish Hydro Electric, will also be at the match where Stornoway are looking to break their duck in the Cup competition. Scottish Hydro Electric employee Roddy Graham, who works at Stornoway power station and also plays for the Stornoway club, will present the specially branded match ball.
“We haven’t won a tie in the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup to my knowledge,” said club secretary and winger Willie Macleod. “It’s going to be a big day for us especially with the president coming and the boys are really looking forward to it. We’ve been playing touch rugby over the summer and we’ve been getting into the nitty-gritty side of the game over the last four to six weeks.
“It’ll be interesting to see whether the experimental law variations have much of an effect. I’ve been playing for two to three years and I’m still not sure of the laws,” he quipped.
Macleod added that Stornoway are introducing more youngsters to their team from the prodigious number of youths playing rugby on Lewis. “We’ve got a lot of youngsters coming through - the quicker the better so old fogeys like me can stand down!”
Other Scottish Hydro Electric Cup fixtures on Saturday (23 August)
Caledonia Region Round 1
Orkney v Glenrothes
Caledonia Region Preliminary Round
Stobswell v Waid Academy FP
Banff v Bannockburn
Strathspey v Ross Sutherland
RAF Lossiemouth v Alloa
Fife Southern v Panmure
Peterhead v Arbroath
East Region Preliminary Round
Moray House v Liberton
Note to editors: Melrose were last season s winners of the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup; Garnock won the Scottish Hydro Electric Shield; Preston Lodge the Scottish Hydro Electric Bowl; and Aberdeen University the Scottish Hydro Electric Plate