Category: The Bunnet

Hills Annual Player Awards Dinner

The Prizewinners and All the Chat

This eagerly awaited event at the end of the 2016/2017 season was characterised  by the usual mixture of the sublime  and the ridiculous, the details of which will unfold rapidly for those anxious enough to feast on all the gossip.   After all  as someone very famous once said .. “ we all hate to spread gossip but what else can we really do with it… “

It is important at the outset to note that the ladies present, some twenty number, had determined to make an impression such was their combined excellence in dress, (very occasional) décolletage and (initially) demeanour.   The men by comparison presented  as mostly dour and uninspiring in their dress sense with, however, some notable exceptions. Martin Malone wore his kilt but there were no  substantiated reports at the time of going to print  if there was anything worn under the kilt; Calum Forrester ,a guest of Dean Kelbrick’s, clearly thought he was attending a dinner in some upmarket gaff being attired in his “DJ” with bow tie, while Messers Scott (snr) and Legendre were resplendent in their “Hills” waistcoats. This was then one of those occasions when the Ladies came out on top of the men!!

The meal was up to the usual high Café Source Too standard, but a surprise awaited the ladies’ when the dessert, a wonderful caramel (?) cheesecake, was served them by one of the “Chippendales” (aka Ryan Williamson). This appearance provided a fertile ground for all the usual wisecracks about apparatus and equipment. The bold Williamson did, however, suffer some damage to his ego, if not his manhood, by being advised by the Ladies spokesperson, Kirsty McConnell, an alleged connoisseur of matters to do with “tackle”, that he was very much “size inappropriate”. To keep spirits up during the first comfort break prior to the speeches, Abi Evans reinforced her image as an outstanding  athlete by doing “chin ups”  and swinging from one of the roof beams. Those familiar with the works of the eminent zoologist, Desmond Morris, will recognise these behavioural traits.

Then it was onto the speeches. Stuart Irvine who, admittedly on the flimsy evidence of only one speech, is recommended not to rush to  give up his day job spoke for the men. He did provide one good line for the discerning among the diners with his remark about James  Reekie always running “hard lines“. “Waldorf and Statler” really enjoyed that one, thinking aloud it was indeed “hardlines” that they had attended, but Stuart was applauded for his efforts; never easy to be a prophet in your own country. Georgie Keys, “A lady in red” for the evening, was all Transatlantic sorority and engaging with the girls in the team. It was generally agreed that the decision not to have bread rolls at the meal  had contributed to an improved feeling of health and safety for the speakers and their general wellbeing. There was regrettably, however, the occasional missile, either a napkin doused in lager or a slice of lemon, but the collateral damage was limited.

The awards proved as popular as ever, with the presenters having their differing styles of delivery. Loïs Legendre with his usual Gallic flair and Stuart “The Speaker” Irvine presided over the awards for the 2A and the 2nd XV’s.  European football has its “golden Boot“ award for their top player, and Loïs’s answer to that fashion statement is a rugby boot presented as a phallic symbol, “mounted” on an impressively polished plinth. Matt Rea (most improved player) and Ben Chaddock (player of the year) captured the 2A’s prizes; and Matt Murray (most improved player) and David Webster (player of the year) garnered the votes  for the 2nd XV. Chairman Andy Scott (Snr) who performed well under duress all night, distributed the 1st XV awards to Jamie Maddox (most improved player), Owen Gemmell (player of the year) and Rory Harte, (Players’ player  of the year). The latter, known affectionately as “Golden balls“ to some present, seemed rather off colour and became more overwhelmed by the occasion as the evening wore on. Perhaps he became dizzy as a result of the greatness imposed upon his callow shoulders? Bringing up the rear of the “Oscars” was Ladies coach Dean Kelbrick who dazzled the audience with a welter of statistics about the Ladies performance over the season: games won; points scored; tries scored;  record numbers of girls/ladies with representative honours, it flowed. The awards for the Ladies went to Aimee Watson (Most improved), Hannah Smith (Players’ player) and Hannah Telling (Player of the year). Winding up, Dean thanked  Graeme Blackhall for his help and then delivered the best line of the night, perhaps a Freudian slip, when he asked Mairi McDonald to thank Fergus Matheson (absent for the evening) for his help.  No-one present  doubted  that would not take place.  Finally the demure and sober Louise MacMillan, captain of the ladies 1st XV, made presentations to Messers Kelbrick and Blackhall on their retirals as coaches to the ladies.

It was unfortunate that the formal part of the evening then concluded rather too swiftly without any vote of thanks to the Dinner Convener, Douglas Grove, who had worked tirelessly to deliver the evening and the “Hills” President, Andrew Scott (snr) for his seamless performance  in continuity announcing. But by then the youth had evacuated to boogy on the dance floor and Rory Harte  was ready for the knackers’ yard.

PS: The usual process of contacting A and E departments on the morning after the night before to check on diners’ welfare was severely hampered by lack of communications due to the malware problems afflicting the NHS. A chance visit however to HQ this morning revealed at least two pairs  of high heels had been left in the function room. Ladies being swept off their feet!!

Bernie “The Bunnett’ Mitchell

So Near But So Far for the Gallant U18’s at Murrayfield

STIRLING COUNTY 36pts HILLHEAD/JORDANHILL 26pts

After some seventeen minutes of the Girls U18  final played on the main pitch at Murrayfield,  Stirling had rattled on some nineteen  points without any sign of reply and matters were beginning to look ominous for the “Hills” with a drubbing the likely outcome. Yet the “Hills”  girls rallied in the second quarter of the game restricting their opponents to only one further score and coming close to a score themselves,  being held up on the Stirling  line on the final play of the first half.

Whatever motivational words were delivered to their charges  by the coaches, Mesdames Konkel, Openshaw and Watson,  are uncertain but they seemed to have been wired to a slow burning  fuse, as Stirling scored immediately on resumption of the second  half.  Now Stirling, thirty one points ahead,   appeared to be on “easy street” BUT then “Hills” burst into life.  Urged  on by captain Elis Martin and the strong running from deep by Erin Haldane,  Allana McWiiliam opened the scoring, followed quickly by the elusive Helen Frater and powerful no. 8 Erin Foley, and then in the 65th minute by Helen Frater  again,  a constant thorn in the side of Stirling for the whole of the second half. Stand-off Melanie Grant converted three of these to leave the score tantalisingly at Stirling 31 Hillhead/Jordanhill 26 with only some five minutes to go.

A game which had looked to be a run away success for Stirling in the first half had turned totally and the result was now on a knife edge due to “Hills” second half resurgence.   The concluding and clinching  score when  it came in the 68th minute resulted from a Stirling  breakaway with more than  a hint of the ball being knocked on as the attacker crossed the line.   After consultation the try was awarded, but there was too  little time left for the “Hills”  girls  to mount any kind of offensive and Stirling ran out winners in what was a fine advert for Girls development rugby.

This was some experience  for all of  the “Hills”  squad to be involved in a National final played in the intimidating confines of BT Murrayfield.  Each is  to be congratulated on their commitment and performance.  The  squad  will now be able to take confidence from this game forward into next season when hopefully they will all return for training for the new Season.

“Hills” Cup Final squad:  Erin Haldane, Rachael Waddell, Meghan Davis, Helen  Frater, Brogan Carberry,  Melanie Grant, Niamh deans, Anne Young, Elis Martin ( C ), Aimee Johnston,  Tallulah Armstrong,  Eve Thomson, Allana McWilliam, Lucy Mills, Erinn  Foley.
Replacements Sara Akinrinbola, Christy Smith, Amy Saunders, Zoe Toner, Elissa Burr, Eilidh Kelly.
 

Hilljills Triumph in Murrayfield Cup Final

Hilljills 26-23 Wandies

The final game in the BT Womens Premier League in January had seen these two Clubs pitted against each other on the back pitch at Murrayfield and , on that occasion, “Wandies” had triumphed in a hard fought game by eighteen points to twelve. Fast forward to April and the BT finals on the main pitch at Murrayfield, and the same two Clubs contested the final of the Sarah Beaney Cup with Hills Ladies the victors this time, edging their close rivals by three goals and one try to two goals and three penalty goals.

Classically it was a game of “two halves” with the Glasgow visitors, after a very shaky opening spell in which their rivals raced to a ten points lead in seventeen minutes, settling down with their two main strike runners, their centre pairing Abi Evans and Hannah Smith, proving far too elusive, quick witted and strong for a very porous Edinburgh defence. Hannah Smith ran in the first try from some fifty metres on a mazy route and the second was a touch down from Abi Evans who sprinted clear from some forty metres. Stand off Ally Cook converted both but just failed
with her third kick following another burst of pace and touch down from Abi Evans. Murrayfield chipped away at Hills with another Lisa Martin penalty, but the first half concluded with the sad sight of winger Sarah Smith being stretchered off with a head injury ; and the scoreboard showing the match finely poised at nineteen points to thirteen in favour of the HillJills.

The second forty minutes was altogether a much dourer affair than the first with Wandies dominating territorially and also enjoying the greater share of possession, but finding the Hills defence impregnable. It took Murrayfield some twenty five minutes to break through far out to the right and this time Sarah Nelson kicked the conversion, taking Murrayfield one point ahead.

The margin was increased to four when Lisa Martin, revisiting recent Broadwood Stadium heroics, kicked a penalty goal from some thirty two metres. But Hilljills did not panic with stand off Ally Cook being far from traumatised and showing fine footballing skills to take the game back into the Edinburgh half. Eventually Hills went through some phased plays to create sufficient space for Hannah Smith to dash through the Wandies ranks once more to score to the side of the posts. Ally Cook converted pushing her team some three points ahead with just over three minutes left to play. The final honours were left to Man of the Match , Hannah Smith to boot the ball out of the playing area and bring up no side. The celebrations were then unconfined with players, replacements and coaches, Dean Kelbrick and Graeme Blackhall, all joining in.

This was a fine effort from all the HillJills squad; it would have been all too easy for them to have crumbled after the opening onslaught, but they stuck to it well and emerged worthy winners . It is always invidious to pick out individuals in what was a cohesive team performance but Jade Konkel, who has enjoyed better days with her hands, was an exocet in attack sometimes taking four defenders to halt her ; Mairi McDonald was sharp throughout at scrum half providing an excellent service and Louise McMillan captained the side well and proved a more than useful source of line out ball.

WELL DONE HILLS LADIES AND COACHING STAFF.

Report by : Bernie “the Bunnet” Mitchell
Read also:
SRU Match Report
Article in the Herald Scotland
Article in The Scotman

Hills Stumble to Defeat in Last Home Game

Hillhead/Jordanhill 15 pts West of Scotland 39 pts

On a wonderfully sunny and warm day for flowing rugby, this was a disappointing outcome to end “Hills” home fixtures in National league 2 for season 2016/2017. As in previous games, there were periods when “Hills” won good first phase possession, retained the ball and worked through the phases to gain territorial advantage. But on too many occasions, visitors West were able to make easy inroads through the home defence to score some relatively straightforward  tries.

“Hills” had a good first quarter initially containing a lively opening from their visitors and then working their way forward for second rower, Calum Stove, to burst through from twenty five metres to score an unconverted try. This stung West into action and they quickly rattled on three tries by utilising quick passing to and fro across the field to exploit gaps in the home defensive line. But the livewire Ross Thomson at scrum half for the “Hills” made a fine individual break from some thirty metres out to score just to the left of the posts to bring “Hills” closer to their visitors. Unfortunately Darren Knox’s conversion was charged down, leaving the half time score seventeen points to ten in West’s favour.

For the first ten minutes of the third quarter, West looked as if they were going to overwhelm “Hills” by adding another two tries. It was left again however, to scrum half Ross Thompson to shake the “Hills” out of their second half torpor by breaking well from his own half, evading several defenders and then passing onto centre Scott Halliday who made good ground to the West try line where he was tackled despairingly; but just managed to get the ball away to Chris Tulloch who supported well to touch down. That took “Hills” to fifteen points to West’s twenty nine and, for a moment, the home support felt they were back in the hunt. But that was illusory, and West then took full advantage of “Hills” mistakes and poor defensive efforts to add a further uncontested ten points to finish deserved winners by thirty nine points to fifteen.

All of the “Hills” squad can be commended for their hard work and effort to keep going for another eighty minutes of ultimately unrewarding rugby. If there had been a “Hills” man of the match, it would have been awarded to left winger Jamie Maddox, who enjoyed an exemplary afternoon both in defence and attack.

“Hills” conclude Season 2016/2017 with an away fixture at Memorial field, Ardrossan, on Saturday the 1st April. Kick off is 15.00. All supporters very welcome.

“Hills” 1st XV – Darren Knox, Dan Williams, Scott Busby (Graham Davidson), Scott Halliday, Jamie Maddox, Rory Harte, Ross Thomson, Ryan Williamson (Jonny Urquhart), Harry Perston, George Stephenson (Blair Mackenzie), Alec Cameron (Chris Tulloch), Callum Stove, Owen Gemmell (C), Harry Cordner, Ryan Reilly (Alec Cameron). All subs used.

Bernie Mitchell

Tough Shift Up North

Aberdeenshire 63 – 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill

Despite the one sided nature of the final scoreline, there were periods in this game when the Hills dominated territorially, but, as has occurred all too frequently this season, the pressure has not resulted in points for the board. After Aberdeenshire had raced into an early fourteen points to nil advantage, Hills camped in the home twenty two for some fifteen minutes, but to no avail, despite the frequent brave charges of captain Owen Gemmell and second rower, Callum Stove, for the line. “Shoe ins” of kicks at the posts were ignored for glorious but ultimately failed attempts to cross the line. Against a side of Aberdeenshire’s quality, one small mistake can be punished unerringly, and a dropped ball during a Hills attack allowed the home team to lift the siege and race to the far end to score. The only remaining bright note for the small visiting support from the first half was stand off, Rory Harte’s ability to fashion a try from a smart kick, chase and pick up to crash over the line. The half time score of 35-5 reflected the home side’s ability to play efficient, high tempo continuity rugby and ruthlessly put away the opposition.

The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first period: Hills trying desperately hard with good line breaks from Scott Halliday, Jake Hayden and Owen Gemmell, but not having the skills in continuity play to hurt the home team. The Hills score, when it did come, was a penalty try, the referee deeming the defenders did not roll away from a tackle area and thereby impeded the attackers. Praise must go to the home side for their effectiveness in open field play and also their goal kicker who, from a variety of kicking positions, seemingly effortlessly slotted nine out of nine conversions. A perfect day for him, but another disappointing one for the Hills.

There is now a gap of a fortnight till Saturday the 25th March when Hills play their penultimate National league game against old rivals, the West of Scotland, at Hughenden with a 15.00 hours KO.

Hills 1st XV – Andy Bolster, Graham Davidson, Jake Hayden, Scott Halliday, Ryan Reilly, Rory Harte, Matt Murray, Blair Mackenzie, Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Kenny Harper (Harry Perston), Chris Tulloch (Alec Cameron), Callum Stove (Owen Gemmell), Owen Gemmell(C) (Fraser Gow) Harry Cordner, Alec Cameron (Jonny Kinniburgh) All subs used.

Report & Featured Picture by Bernie Mitchell

Hills 2XV Just Do Enough to Overcome

Hills 2XV 13 – 8 Glasgow Accies 2XV

This 2nd XV derby match under the Hughenden lights attracted a goodish crowd on a cold evening to watch a game which was fast and furious : both sides played at a high tempo and both were equally furious with the match referee. But despite the whistle bashing, the entertainment was good, and, in truth, the match could have gone either way, as both sides were fairly evenly matched.

Hills scrummaged well with Struan Maidment on the loose head impressive throughout and the back row of Jamie McLaren, Josh Douglas and Alex Armstrong was devastating in the broken play. But Accies moved the ball more fluently and were always dangerous when opening out.

Hills took an early three point lead through a penalty goal struck by veteran stand off, David Paterson, but the visitors soon equalised and thereafter the game stagnated into a midfield arm wrestle with neither side able to seize any opportunity. A stray kick out off defence, very well fielded by Matt Murray led directly to the host opening score. The ball was moved quickly to Euan Harrington who drew the Accies defence well to put David Vallance clear on the left wing to finish expertly. The half time score, 8-3, was just about right.

Hills now had the benefit of the wind, but it was Accies who stormed back into the match and, after a series of close range drives, scored well to the left of the posts, but the conversion was missed. This reverse galvanised the home team, who used the wind through the towering kicks of Euan Harrington to gain ground in the visitors half. The Accies defence held out well, until the bulk of Jonny “Captain Pugwash” Urquhart proved unstoppable from five metres out. That took the Hills one score ahead. Until the final whistle both sides had chances, but the level of handling on either side could not cope with the defensive pressures and Hills ran out eventual winners.

Hills 2nd XV coach, Stuart Irvine, noted : “I’m really proud how the team dug in to win, they weren’t afraid to get stuck in and balled hard. The conditions were terrible but we used them to our advantage in the 2nd half. Things to work on in training and hopefully we can play smarter and improve some decision making. That should ensure the team keeps winning.”

Hills 2XV: Miguel Pimentez, Matt Murray, Chris Crome, Euan Harrington, David Vallance, David Paterson, Conor Duignan(C), Struan Maidment, Harry Singh, Jonny Urquhart, David Webster, Graeme Milloy, Jamie McLaren, Josh Douglas, Alex Armstrong. Subs all used Darryl Elvin, Fionn Whyte, Jonathan McCook, Toby Joshua

Pictures by Hamish Adamson
Report by Bernie Mitchell

Hills Valiant Efforts Go Unrewarded

Hills 15 – 29 Kelso

There were periods in this game when the Hills competed well with Kelso, the league’s favourites for promotion, but unfortunately the continuity could not be sustained and they ultimately lost by two goals and three tries to one goal, one try and a penalty goal.

Some of the Hills highlights were memorable: hooker Harry Perston’s strike against the head in the first quarter which should have produced the opening try but ended up being run into touch due to an inacurate pass. George Stephenson’s magnificent effort at the heart of a line out driven maul which saw him score with the home pack pushing the visitors over their line. Jamie Maddox’s catch and attack off a restart kick at half way which should have resulted in a try but was recalled due a dubious decision ; Rory Harte’s line kicking which at times was superb and his second half try ; Callum Stove’s all round effort and captain Owen Gemmell’s leadership and abrasive play in the loose.

But Kelso had too much power and physicality for the Hills to contain, and despite a brave second half by our boys, which played out at one try a piece, the margin at half time for Kelso (7-24), was too much for the home team to make up.

The team head up to the Granite city next Saturday, 11 th March with their squad for the third last fixture of the 2016/2017 season to play Aberdeenshire at the Woodside Sports Complex, kick off 14.00.

Hills1st XV: Dan Williams, Jamie Maddox, Scott Busby, Scott Halliday, Graham Davidson (Jake Hayden), Rory Harte, Ross Thomson, Ryan Williamson (Blair Mackenzie), Harry Perston, George Stephenson (Adam Plunkett), Chris Warnock (Ryan Reilly), Callum Stove, Scott Cameron, Owen Gemmell(C), and Harry Cordner All subs used

Excellent featured pictures by Dave Allen @ Kitos Photography
Report by Bernie Mitchell

Kirsty Receives Warriors Tickets

Continuing on the theme of rewarding players for their effort and achievements, Kirsty McConnell work was in the spotlight last week, and is pictured receiving two tickets for Saturday’s Warriors gamer against the Dragons from the club’s head of Rugby, Bernie Mitchell.

Kirsty has a proud family background in the game : her Dad, the “Serge”, was an outstanding back row forward for the Hills and Mum, Christine, was a flying winger for the Hills ladies. Her brother Murray also currently plays professionally for Nottingham.

Kirsty noted : “Yeah, it’s really great to play here at Hills. I get great encouragement particularly when everyone tells me I am a much better player than either my Mum or Dad were”

Hills Continue The Hard Yards at Peebles

Peebles 41 pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 17 pts

The final scoreline in this highly competitive game at the Gytes was tough to take for the “Hills” players, coaches and their small band of travelling supporters. “Hills” competed very well from the kick-off and opened the scoring with a close range try from their captain, Owen Gemmell, well converted by Darren Knox.  The rest of the first period saw “Hills” on the ascendancy in open play, but a misfiring line out proved to be their achilles heel with frequent opportunities to retain possession gifted to the opposition.  Darren Knox countered some late home pressure with a well struck penalty goal from forty metres but Peebles ended the half fifteen points to ten ahead.

The hosts continued to pressurise from the start of the second half, adding some fourteen points in ten minutes;  but the next twenty five minutes of play were very evenly contested with the whole squad working well in defence and putting together some good driving passes of play in which Owen Gemmell provided a fine lead.  It was a just reward for the visitors’ efforts when Jimmy Griffith latched onto a Blair Mackenzie pass, following a Ross Thomson switch,  to cross the line  unopposed and score his fourth national league try in three games.  Stand off Darren Knox added the goal points and at seventeen – twenty nine  the visitors looked like closing  on their hosts,  but a tiring front three  – with Harry Cordner’s early injury and a late call off from the bench there were no front row substitutes – and some unhelpful refereeing decisions militated against any further  fightback. In the last four minutes, Peebles added two further tries to put a considerable gloss on the final scoreboard.

There is no doubt that the last three league games, – Biggar, GHK and now Peebles – have witnessed much improved form from the “Hills” when compared with their early season first round games. The matter is now to repair the fractured line out and stitch all the other components together to  produce the first national league win.

Next home game is Saturday the 4th March when “Hills” play Kelso who are chasing hard for a top promotion spot from National League 2. The game kicks off at 15.00 at Hughenden.

“Hills” 1st XV –  Rory Harte, Jamie Maddox, (James Reekie), Scott Busby, Scott Halliday, Jimmy Griffith, Darren Knox, Ross Thomson, George Stephenson, Harry Perston, Blair Mackenzie, Chris Tulloch (Scott Whitford), Callum Stove, Alec Cameron,  Owen Gemmell (C), Harry Cordner and (Chris Warnock)   All subs used.

Bernie “The Bunnet” Mitchell

This Week’s Identity Parade at Hills

Pictured are this week’s award winners along with Head Coach, Robbie Stewart, and his assistant, Franklin Clark are Harry Cordner (2nd left) and Harry Perston.  Each has been favoured with a voucher for Café Source Too on the HQ’s ground floor.

Robbie Stewart advised: “despite our disappointing  loss last week against GHK, both “Harrys” performed well.  Harry C was consistently  good at the breakdown and also in his No. 8 duties, while Harry P performed excellently in the set scrum”.

Franklin Clark, no mean hooker in his day, was full of praise for Harry P: “Scrum time was wonderful for me.  Seeing Harry strike against the head brought back so many memories.  That part provided a warm glow “.