As a Melrose supporter for more than 30 years, it was with extreme disappointment I learned of the club’s decision to select Nick McGrath, pictured, in the lst XV for the Boroughmuir game on Saturday.
McGrath is only just off the plane from New Zealand and, according to press reports, the Melrose committee stated that he would have to “fight for his place”. However, after one mediocre performance in the seconds, he is straight into the first team line-up.
The fact that Melrose are top of the table and scoring tries for fun makes the decision to drop Allan Dodds even more bizarre. If Melrose thought he was not performing then they have players in the wings such as Alec Jessop, Chris Hardie, Dougie Dodds or Robbie Shirra-Gibb who could have stepped in.
These are Melrose guys who, the same as Dodds, will have trained since June, probably doing sprint and weight training, making every effort to be in the best possible condition to make the first team. However, what do Melrose do? – they bump the lot of them for someone from the Southern Hemisphere.
There is no doubt that the current Melrose side is probably the most unpopular Border side in recent years. Their consistent poaching of players from other Border teams has cause widespread resentment. This was plain to see at last season’s sevens tournaments where the side was widely booed when taking the field, even when playing against city sides.
However, their policy of discarding home-grown players must cause disrest within their own ranks. Their 3rd XV has had every game cancelled this year because of lack of players – but it is surely no surprise that players do not want to support a club that has absolutely no loyalty to their own.
I write this before Melrose have played their game against Boroughmuir. They will probably win handsomely and McGrath score several tries.
However, what they will never win is the respect of other Border supporters. They can win the league for the next five years, but future debates about this era will always refer to them as an amalgamation and not as a true Melrose club side.
A sad fact for a town once so proud of its heritage and tradition.
High Cross Avenue