Dundee High Rugby v Aberdeen Grammar, 31st March 2018
After the disappointing performance and result (to put it mildly) against Musselburgh last week , the Dundee coaching staff and team saw the match against Aberdeen Grammar as the perfect opportunity to get “back on the rails” – a match in front of the loyal Mayfield faithful, a local derby against our North Eastern rivals and a chance to reclaim the prestigious Dallas Allardice Cup (currently held by Grammar after their victory at Rubislaw earlier in the season).
To add to the occasion, this match hosted the first Premium Lunch Club of the season with a full house of 85 very important people, including Club sponsors Thorntons , Match Sponsors Savills and Rugby Royalty in the form of former player and BBC Rugby personality Andy Nicol.
Andy was there as the guest speaker and also to be there for the presentation to his father David Nicol, recognising a remarkable 61 years of service to Dundee High Rugby and Scottish Rugby. A more worthy recipient of an award is hard to imagine – Dave, we salute you.
The festivities began as the great and the good were dropped off, resplendent in their finest , by their chauffeurs at the Mayfield clubhouse from midday onwards for aperitifs before retiring to the superbly decorated Glasshhouse for the Premium Lunch.
Unfortunately, no-one had told the weather that it was Easter weekend as grey skies and showers filled the Mayfield air. As was suggested at the clubhouse bar, it was as if the early arriving Aberdeen supporters had brought the typical grey Aberdeen weather with them to replace the sunshine normally encountered in our sunshine city of Dundee.
As the teams were read out by Ken McKay’s dulcit Kelty tones, Ken quite rightly drew attention to the replacement on the Dundee bench – number 17 – one Alan Brown.
Believe it or not, this was to be Broonie’s last match at Mayfield. After a career spanning 18 seasons and seemingly over 400 appearances for the Crown, Broonie had decided that the time had come to call it a day. The Dog will be missed.
Dundee kicked off in their orange strip, playing towards the Dalgleish Road end.
You may note that your reporter used to refer to the change strip as “tangerine”.
However I am now going to stop doing this as I fear that by even mentioning the word tangerine, the affliction currently affecting – nae, crippling – the other sports team in Dundee playing in tangerine may spread from Tannadice down the Cleppie Road , Old Craigie Road and onto Mayfield . God Forbid.
As the teams lined up, it was noted that there were 2 ex Dundee players in the Aberdeen team – Greg Ryan, normally a number 8 , in the unfamiliar position of centre and Robin Cessford in the back row.
Dundee exerted their authority from the start and following a good break by Harvey, the ball was shifted to Ally Mackie who seemed to cross the line to touch down. The referee saw it differently and awarded a scrum to Dundee.
No detrimental impact though, as following the scrum, Josh went blind, linked with Harvey who put Danny into the corner. 5-0 Dundee.
Harvey added the conversion. 7-0 Dundee.
In the opening 15 minutes, Ally Mackie was to the fore, gaining ground with each run. One full blooded run into Robin Cessford resembled a clash of the giants.
Harvey was also directing operations well in midfield, with well placed kicks and searing breaks, which Dallas Allardice would have approved of. Quite what Dallas (a short back and sides man) would have made of Harvey’s man bun is open to conjecture……
However just when it seemed Dundee were taking completely control of the match, Grammar scored. Winger Calum Ruxton gathered the ball in midfield and set off , evading tackle after tackle to score in the corner.
A quality individual try or defensively a poor try to concede?
There was no doubting veteran supporter Jim Scott’s view as he ignored his injured foot to jump up from his seat, exhorting the Dundee backs to “get the tackles in”…………
Scotty’s mood was not improved when Grammar 10 Bryn Perrott nailed the conversion.
However, as if wanting to make amends for upsetting Scotty, Dundee went straight up the pitch to regain the lead.
A clever kick ahead by Harvey was seized on by Lewis McNamara and the talented young Northern Irish number 8 scored in the corner. Harvey missed the kick. 12-7 Dundee
Dundee were in control at this stage, with Harvey and the hard-working centre combination of Leesey and Hammy to the fore and it was no surprise when Dundee scored again.
Superb link up play between back row players Lewis and Ally Mackie, assisted by George, created space for Ally to score near the corner. Harvey narrowly missed the conversion
It had been a satisfying half for Dundee – a marked improvement on the horrible first half at Musselburgh the previous week – but the shine was taken off in the last play of the half.
Following a period of Aberdeen pressure, an overlap was created and winger Grant Walker scored . Perrott added the conversion. 17-14 Dundee
Half Time – Dundee High Rugby 17 Aberdeen Grammar 14
The half time chat amongst the Mayfield faithful was that firstly, this was an entertaining game of rugby , with both teams endeavouring to play expansive rugby.
However, there was an element of disappointment that Dundee were not further ahead as they had had by far more possession and the play had been concentrated in the Aberdeen half.
The first period of the second half was fairly even, with both teams continuing their laudable efforts to play entertaining rugby – it should be noted that the rain had stopped but the wind still made for tricky conditions.
After 55 minutes, cue time for Broonie to enter the fray to deserved applause from the crowd. Howeve this would be nothing to the applause that he got 25 minutes later – read on to find out why….
Broonie’s presence seemed to have an immediate effect as following good inter-passing amongst the forwards, Fraser kicked ahead into space for Captain Leesey to touch down.
Harvey hit the post with the conversion. 22-14 Dundee
At this stage, the Dundee pack were getting on top – Broonie made a difference, with Gav, George , Lewis and Ally all linking well in possession.
Indeed it was the brute force that is Ally Mackie that extended Dundee’s lead.
Following a solid line out, Josh fed Ally who smashed his way over the line. 27-14 Dundee
Harvey Young added the conversion to make it 29-14 , but it cannot go unrecorded that Ken McKay announced a successful conversion by “Harvey Wright” – a remarkable effort by the former Club President and indeed former SRU President who was a stalwart for the club 1ST XV in the 1960s.
There then followed a period which was probably Grammar’s best spell of the match. Cleverly placed kicks, taking advantage of the wind , meant that the Dundee defence was under severe pressure in their 22.
However, the Dundee defence was excellent, both in the forwards and the backs , with the admirable spirit of the team summed up by Captain Leesey’s shout of “keep it going – keep them out” , which reverberated around Mayfield.
However, just when it seemed that Dundee had managed the storm and with Dundee on the attack in midfield. Harvey’s long pass was intercepted by the Grammar 10 , who ran off to score in the corner . The conversion was missed. 29 – 19 Dundee
This gave Grammar heart as we entered the last 5 minutes of the match , but the Dundee defence continued to hold firm.
Indeed, it was Dundee who sealed victory with a score with the last play – Ally Mackie intercepted a pass just outside the Grammar 22 and wild horses would not have stopped him crashing over for a try to the left of the posts. 34-19 Dundee
There then followed an incident which will live long in Mayfield folklore –
Harvey was about to slot over the conversion as the final kick of the match, when the booming call came “OK Harvey , it’s mine” .
Harvey looked up to see Broonie heading towards him, obviously intent on taking this kick which would be the final act of his career at Mayfield.
Harvey looked bemused at this proposed play, which was not in the team game plan and looked over at Captain Leesey for advice . Captain Leesey gave the nod and the ball was passed to Broonie.
Mayfield was hushed as Broonie lined up the kick.
Deciding that the kicking tee ,as favoured by these feminine backs , was an unnecessary hassle , the bold Broonie executed a classic drop goal and the ball flew between the sticks.
Mayfield erupted and rose to Broonie.
Dog raised his arms in a football type celebration and then jumped up and down like Nellie the Elephant before being engulfed by his team mates.
A magical way to round off 18 seasons – you could not have written the script…….
Final Score – Dundee High 36 Aberdeen Grammar 19
Following the match, young Dallas Allardice – grandson of the Dallas – presented the Cup to Broonie and Leesey . Always good to have the cup back at Mayfield.
How would your reporter sum up the match ?
- Very entertaining game of rugby – credit to both time for this in windy conditions.
- Dundee deserved the win – vastly improved performance on last week.
- Dundee played enterprising rugby and, just as importantly , displayed great spirit in defence when under pressure from Grammar.
All in all , another pretty damn good day down Mayfield way – a successful Premium Lunch , a presentation to a club legend , a win and a bonus point and a Cup win. Cue a bar full of satisfied punters at 5pm.
As for Broonie’s conversion – what can you say ???