THEY may have left Murrayfield as runners-up in the National Shield, but Hawick YM were winners in the eyes of their supporters.
Some 400 tickets were sold by secretary Brian Smail for the big day out and four buses – including two double deckers – made the journey up the A7, with messages of good luck ringing in the ears of players and committee men and even a banner of support placed in a field on the outskirts of the town.
Redskins fever gripped the national stadium as the vocal pocket of YM followers made themselves heard throughout the match.
At the end, their support couldn’t be questioned and neither could the commitment of the Mansfield Haugh players, who sadly fell just short, losing to Lasswade 22-17.
Afterwards, Michael Sharp said: “It was a great game and the YM played very well, but Lasswade were very strong. You couldn’t fault the YM at all. They held their own but were just beaten by a better team.”
While injured squad member Joe Carmichael cursed the absence of lady luck. “It was a valiant effort from the side. They never gave up and I think they were just unlucky.”
Former coach Graeme Renwick, who was a losing finalist in the Bowl competition back in 2004, said: “I’m gutted but the boys stuck in and they shouldn’t be too disheartened. They’ve had a great season and they should hold their heads high. They’ve done very well.”
Jackie Trimby was one of many red-clad supporters who beamed with pride as fans poured over the game with a refreshment in the Murrayfield Wanderers clubrooms at the end. She said: “I think they should have won. I thought the YM were outstanding and the players should be proud of themselves. They played against a much bigger team but they were fantastic to watch. I’m so proud of them.”
And Gordon Solley added: “To be fair the best team won, but the YM were punching well above their weight and I was proud to be here supporting them.”
Helen McCrerie said: “I thought it was a good game. The YM played well considering the other team was far bigger, but they’ve nothing to be ashamed of, they did the whole town proud.”
John Sharkey commented: “I thought the YM were immense against a team that’s way above them in the leagues. They didn’t disgrace themselves in any way.”
Elaine Millar conceded a late controversial decision not to punish an apparent foul on YM’s Neil McColm, which led to Lasswade’s winning try, was very costly. She said: “It’s been a fabulous day. The players played their hearts out and the atmosphere was great. The game was magic and the other team could easily have been penalised for the late foul on Neil McColm.”
But there was little bitterness in defeat, just an overwhelming feeling of pride.
Margaret Wylie said: “We’re all really proud of them and it was great to see such a great support from Hawick.”
And Ian ‘Titch’ Dalgleish, added: “I thought it was a brilliant day for everybody.
“The team played exceptionally well against a much bigger side.”