The Final Years
The first three games of 1959/60 had to be cancelled due to the hardness of the ground because of one of the driest and hottest summers in living memory! When rugby did start there were good wins against Boroughmuir and Glasgow High, their first defeat of the season. However, by November Gregor Sharp had been called up for Army Service and K. R. Macdonald had to retire from the game due to a knee injury and this affected the team considerably. Excellent wins were recorded against North of Ireland and Hartlepool Rovers. However, the biggest win of the season was against West of Scotland 35-14. Fred McLeod scored three tries from the fullback position. The last three games were lost but the club were in the top ten of the Championship.
Gregor Sharp’s fine play for the Army in the Inter-services rugby matches won much praise from the English press and he was honoured by being chosen to play for the combined Scotland/Ireland XV against England/Wales in the Twickenham Jubilee Game. Gregor was the only uncapped player to take part. Thereafter the Scottish selectors recognised his talent by selecting him against the French .
In 1960-61 there was an unusually good recruitment of school leavers. Hinshelwood and West became regular members of the team. However, another dislocated shoulder finally ended the illustrious career of T.G. Weatherstone. The team at its best was the equal of any in the Championship but lacked consistency against teams that they should have beaten easily. Nonetheless, 19 out 28 games were won and 323 points scored. J.C.M. Sharp contributed 111 points and Hinshelwood marked his first season with 11 tries.
Wing forward A.J. Willis scored 8 tries and accomplished the unusual feat of place kicking a goal from a mark in the game at Hawick.
Under the captaincy of John Douglas the 1961/2 the team never fulfilled its potential. The opening Championship game was lost to Boroughmuir but a notable victory was recorded against Glasgow High 14-11, who would become club Champions that season. The junior teams won 54 of the 80 matches played scoring 1083 points against 538 – an outstanding record.
In 1962/63 the playing strength increased to a record 107 which allowed for 6 teams to play for the first time in the club’s history. However, it was a disappointing season with 11 fixtures cancelled because of the weather. Not surprisingly, results were poor. The home game with Hawick was scheduled to be broadcast on BBC television. It would have been the first club game to be broadcast had fog not descended on Inverleith preventing the cameras recording anything!
A poor start was made to 1963/64, four of the first six championship games were lost including the game against Melville College F.P. The indifferent form continued including a record loss to Heriot’s 25-0. Fortunately, the season was redeemed with two creditable draws against Heriot’s and Watsonians. Despite so many mediocre displays 320 points were scored and Gregor Sharp managed 144 points. Hinshelwood was the leading try scorer with 13.
The highlight of the club season was the record of the 3rd XV captained by Clark Sharp.
For the second year in succession 1964-65 saw a fall in playing membership and all five XV’s had poor results, particularly the 2nd and 3rd teams. Several of previous year’s 1st XV had emigrated to England or further a field just when they were developing into excellent players. Adequate replacements were hard to find although I.W. Forsyth emerged as a rare talent and played in every game. Both North of Ireland and Ballymena were defeated but the only other victories were against Heriot’s, Glasgow Academicals and Watsonians. Sandy Hinshelwood scored 17 tries in the season – a considerable feat playing in a losing team.
In 1965/66 there was a further migration of players down south including Sandy Hinshelwood who soon established himself in the London Scottish team and played once again for the Barbarians. The season started well only three games out of 12 being lost but there was a long losing steak till the end of the season when a good win against Glasgow Academicals was recorded.
J. Douglas and A. Murdoch played for Edinburgh in the District games and B. Kerr was also picked but was unable to play. Hinshelwoods’s impressive play down south earned him his first cap against France and the season ended with him being selected for the British Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand.
An inauspicious start was made to season 1966/67 when both Hartlepool Rovers and Harrogate defeated us on the September holiday tour. A good win against Melville College proved to be a flash in the pan and more defeats were sustained than victories. Gala thumped us 34-3. Wins against North of Ireland, Glasgow Academicals, Watsonians, Langholm and Selkirk did not salvage a poor season that again resulted in a position in the lower half of the championship.
The decline continued into the following season when only 8 out 26 games were won. In 1968/69 some fine wins early in the season lifted hopes of a revival but many games were then lost by the odd point or two. One excellent result was the 17-12 victory against Heriot’s with only 14 men for the whole of the second half. Top scorer for the season was Fred McLeod with 109 points.
The following season was severely hampered by injuries. Harkness,Crawford and Cartwright were out for long periods. With a more representative team some good results were achieved against Jedforest, Heriot’s and Edinburgh Academicals. Nonetheless, we finished in the top half of the Championship table for only the second time since 1962 and scored a creditable 375 points in the thirty games played. The top scorer was G. Armstrong with 114 points while I.W. Forsyth who captained the team scored 19 tries and three drop goals.
Inconsistent form was again a feature in 1970/71 and this can be attributed to a spate of injuries to key players and inexperience. The average age of the team was 22. Once again the club achieved a lowly position in the Championship.
The story was similar in 1971/72. Five games were lost before a win was recorded against the Royal High 15-13. A draw against Heriot’s, wins over Edinburgh Academicals and Kelso at the end of the year saw a record of won 8, lost nine. This pattern was repeated after the New Year – four wins but then every game bar one was lost by large margins.
The Final Years – Results
A. Forsyth captained the 1st XV in its final year and although the overall resources of the Club were strong in numbers and playing potential there was insufficient experience to form a strong team.The season started with large losses to Boroughmuir and Hillhead. Wins were recorded against Melville College, Burnside a touring New Zealand team and only two other wins by Christmas. This sorry tale continued into 1973 only two out of the remaining ten matches won. The club finished 30th in Championship its lowest position ever.
The last match that the Club played was at Inverleith on Saturday 24th March 1973. It was fitting that the opponents were our old rivals Heriot’s. The Stewart’s F.P. team was :
RESULTS – 1901 -1973