There were some big sporting events taking place on Saturday past at Melrose, Augusta, Aintree and even Tynecastle! All, however, were eclipsed by the main event at Inverleith, as SM hunted down their goal, in their penultimate game of the season, of gaining promotion to National Division One.
As at Aintree, it was all down to the final furlong and, come full time, it was thankfully mission accomplished to the delight of all the players, the coaches, Alex and John and, of course, the supporters who had turned up in great numbers. It has been a tough journey for us all.
The game itself started with a predictable degree of urgency as we tried to get onto the front foot immediately but, although there was pressure on the visitors in their own 22, it was subsequently Accies who benefited from some uncharacteristic knock-ons and, ultimately, a penalty. The three points on offer were snatched up, and, after ten minutes, it was SM 0 - Accies 3.
The response, though, was immediate.
A lineout at the halfway line was followed by a break by Kyle Henderson, his inside pass then finding George Lee running a great line. George touched down, Happy added the extra points and, after 15 minutes, the score was 7 - 3 in our favour.
SM were secure at the restart and were back on the attack once more. A probing kick by Fraser Strachan found good field position and, with that, we launched an impressive forward drive as the pack rumbled on to win a penalty. What followed was almost a formality as Chris Baikie powered over and Happy once more added the extras. 23 minutes in, SM 14 - Accies 3.
Despite phases coming together for us, Accies were doing their level best to disrupt things. With an edge, at times, in the set piece, a penalty soon came their way. While the ensuing kick to touch was, from an SM perspective, kept in play, the visiting touch judge indicated otherwise. The lineout and penalty that followed indubitably led to Accies crossing the line. 25 minutes in, SM 14 - Accies 10.
Things were getting too close for comfort – but then that man Baikie was soon at it again! He charged down a clearance kick and, from 20 meters out, followed it through to touch down. When prop forwards charge down kicks to score, you know the side are up for it.
Happy was again successful with his boot: SM 21 - Accies 10.
As the end of the first half approached, Accies managed to slot another three points to narrow the margin once more but then, not to be outdone, Ru Mitchell extended the lead and, with that, secured the crucial bonus point.
Half time SM 26 - Accies 13. Surely?!
It's been a long season and, not wanting to make it easy, our guests continued to attack whenever the opportunity arose. They were keen to spoil the party but, at times, took the wrong options. In contrast, it was SM’s turn to disrupt proceedings, winning back possession after an impressive passage of play and sleight of hands.
Accies somehow managed to get their hands on the ball, though, and slipped through to score between the posts. 55 minutes in, SM 26 - Accies 20.
There was, however, more in SM’s tank. Captain McGurk’s break in midfield soon found James Ferguson on the wing, the ever-eager talisman breaking tackles and eventually finding Willie Malcolm who touched down in the corner. 65 minutes gone, SM 31 - Accies 20.
Connor McKay had now joined the fray, giving Ru a well-deserved (albeit only short) rest, as the final 15 minutes were played out. It was definitely more comfortable viewing as SM were on top but, as always, there was no room for complacency as Accies continued to exert pressure.
Make no mistake - although we squeaked home at New Anniesland back in November, we were worthy winners this time around.
At the final whistle the score was SM 31 - Glasgow Accies 20. What an afternoon.
It was great to witness what, perhaps, should have come a couple of years ago. It’s now time to look forward, not back – an exciting season awaits us in August!
Congratulations to all involved.
There’s still one fixture left to finish the current season off officially, against what only can only be described, going on Saturday’s result against Dumfries, as a high-flying Kirkcaldy team.
Hopefully see you at Barnton where Royal High have kindly given us full access to their pitch and club house. The pre-match lunch will take place at Ye Olde Inn in Davidson’s Mains – please contact Lindsey if you’d like to dine!
Many thanks to Kevin (and sub editor Finlay) for their weekly touchline dispatches – same again next season, please, gentlemen!
And a big thank you to our photographers, Jax Mackenzie and Keith Ferguson who have provided some stunning shots and plenty of memories from the season