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Caithness Evergreens answer the call to arms for Golden Oldies event

By Iain Grant

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Former player and coach Tom McGee is in the squad for the Scottish Golden Oldies Festival. Picture: James Gunn
Former player and coach Tom McGee is in the squad for the Scottish Golden Oldies Festival. Picture: James Gunn

The final curtain will come down on Saturday on what has been an action-packed local rugby season with the appearance of the Caithness Evergreens in the 10th Scottish Golden Oldies Festival.

They will lock horns with their wizened counterparts from the rest of the country at the over-35s event at Aberdeen Wanderers' Groats Road base.

The amalgam of has-beens and never-have-beens from yesteryear are looking out the Ralgex and stocking up on bandages and painkillers to prepare for the fray.

Caithness RFC vice-president and former coach Russell Mill has assembled the squad, which ranges from mid to late thirties to several on the verge of pension age.

Mill is delighted with the response he has had to the call to arms.

He said: "We have seen a massive increase in the breadth of rugby played in the county over the past season with all the attention on the women, the reintroduction of the [men's] 2nds and the continuing good work being done with the junior section.

"Ewen Boyd [men's coach] and Mike Flavell [women's coach] made a conscious effort at the start of the season to generate interest among veterans. They have been regularly involved in touch sessions, and there was so much interest we decided to enter a side in the Scottish Golden Oldies Festival."

The squad features exiles including former Greens captain Andy Morris, Tommy Sutherland, Lorne MacNicol and James Hamilton.

Morris, the Greens' record cap holder, will have his role restricted to cheerleader as he is awaiting an operation.

Mill said: "We have a few like Andy who are not able to play. They are coming for the crack and a catch-up, which is really what it is all about."

The squad includes former player and coach Tom McGee, who will have one of the most eye-catching CVs among those taking part in the festival.

The 42-year-old prop won the Scottish Premiership title and Scottish Cup with Boroughmuir before playing for the Border Reivers and having two Churchill Cup outings with Scottish A.

McGee went on to coach with Leeds Carnegie and Wharfedale before returning to his roots. He also played rugby league for Scotland.

This will be the club's second appearance at a Scottish Golden Oldies Festival, having made their debut during their 50th anniversary season in 2013 in Inverness.

Touch rugby sessions will continue throughout the off season at Millbank in Thurso on Wednesdays and at Bignold Park in Wick on Thursdays, between 6.30 and 7.30pm.

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