The 1980’s – A Centenary

1980 marked a momentous anniversary for the FP Rugby Club. 100 years on from The Immortal’s historic November meeting in the Victoria coffee shop in 1880 Dundee HSFP RFC celebrated their centenary in style. A centenary match was played on September 6 against David Leslie’s star-studded International XV including legendary names such as Sandy Carmichael, Roy Laidlaw, John Rutherford and Dundee’s own, Chris Rea returning to face his old club side. Tries by skipper Stewart Cram and Alistair Brand and a conversion by Derek Lawson couldn’t stop the select side racking up an impressive win in a hugely entertaining match.

The centenary flag was unfurled at Mayfield by the president of the SRU, Cliff Wilton.

The end of this season was marked by a small and successful tour to Scandinavia which served to further bind the club together. Based in Copenhagen the tourists played four games in a week against Copenhagen Exiles, Comet, Malmo from Sweden and Copenhagen Alliance and recorded a clean sweep of four wins. The tour party comprised: H. Robbie, B. Cram, D. Robertson, A.Lindsay, D. Robbie, C. Graham, R. Easton, W. Smith, G. Spowart, G. Stout, A. MacDonald, S. Cram (captain), G. Low, D. Lawson, D.Ogilvie.

Club President, Harvey Wright wrote in the centenary book espousing the FP’s desire to always play attractive open rugby, a philosophy that endures to this day and one that can still provide a scintillating spectacle for the Mayfield faithful.

The centenary provided the spur for the club to begin its phoenix-like rise from the ashes of Division 6 rugby and Dundee HSFP were crowned Div 6 champions in season 1981/82, beating Cartha Queens Park away to secure the title after narrowly missing out the previous year.

Back to back promotion wasn’t to be achieved in 82/83 however Mayfield was chosen to host Scotland B v France B that year and promotion was only delayed as the foundation for the next season was laid.

Champions again in 1983/84 meant promotion to Division 4 and DHSFP RFC had begun the climb back up the leagues. Once again Cartha Queens Park were defeated in the final game of the season and Dundee were unbeaten in the league, their only blemish being a draw at Peebles.

1984 provided David Leslie with what was undoubtedly one of the rugby highlights of his career. Firmly established as a first choice back row forward for Scotland, he was part of the Scotland team to win the Grand Slam that year. When asked about his attributes as a player, Jim Telfer, notoriously the hardest coach to please commented that he stopped worrying when Leslie had the ball.

A further accolade for one of Scottish rugby’s true greats was afforded later that year when he was voted Rugby World’s Player of the Year for 1984.

Further success in the leagues marked the FP’s inexorable ascent to the upper echelons of Scottish club rugby. 1985/86 was another promotion year, this time into Divison 3 and the now familiar red and blue hooped socks made their first appearance to replace the traditional red.

Pipped for promotion by Perthshire in 87/88 and again in 88/89 meant Dundee finished the decade in Division Three but at least managed to win the Midlands KO Cup for the fourth year on the trot.

Division 2 status was at lat won in 1989/90 as Dundee stormed to the title unbeaten and by the beginning of the next decade the club was pressing its claim for Division 1 status.

The final fling of the 80’s saw Mayfield play host to Australia as the antipodeans rose to the challenge posed by a combined District XV on 15th November 1989.