Work under way on creation of new Greenyards 3G surface

The Greenyards turf is rotovated ahead of the creation of a new 3G pitch there (picture by Alwyn Johnston).
The Greenyards turf is rotovated ahead of the creation of a new 3G pitch there (picture by Alwyn Johnston).

Work on installing Melrose Rugby Club’s new £1.1m synthetic pitch sparked mixed reactions after getting under way last week.

Tears were shed by some as the so-called “hallowed turf” at the Greenyards was cultivated for the creation of a new 3G all-weather pitch.

But others are optimistic the works at Melrose RFC’s ground signals a new era for relationships between the town and the club.

Community council vice-chairman Valerie Miller told last week’s meeting the pitch could be regarded as “hallowed turf” and said “It’s a shame to see it go.”

Her counterpart Agnes Waldie added: “It’s a very sad day.

“People have been talking about it all day today. Folk have been greeting about it down there today, watching it get cut up.

“But I was told this pitch is going to change Melrose RFC. That it’s a lot more than just a new pitch.

“There’s the exclusivity of Melrose RFC to be addressed for a start.”

Plans for the new surface, surrounding footpath, hedging and four LED floodlights at the grounds, owned by the Ormiston Trust, were submitted to the council in April 2017 and approved six months later.

Chairman of Melrose RFC, Gordon Brown, said: “I think it’s massively important that the club goes back to the old traditions of the Melrose community, where we encourage people to come through the gates.

“I would love to see that place thriving with kids and to see development both in rugby, football and other sports too.

“I think it’s sad that the Greenyards is only being used 25 times per year.”

Mr Brown added the new pitch will signal an end to having to “save” the turf during the Melrose Sevens weekend.

“We have to hold the under-15s tournament on the Friday on the Battery Dykes because we can’t afford to have the Greenyards cut up if it rains,” he said.

“That pitch can’t last seven hours – never mind two days.”

Last week, some residents made a donation to the club in exchange for a slice of the Greenyards grass.

The carpet on the new 3G pitch, being jointly funded by the local authority and Melrose RFC, is expected to last between 10 and 12 years.

Mr Brown added: “We suggested on social media earlier in the week that folk could come down and take away a slice of the pitch and make a donation to the club if they wished.”

It is hoped the pitch will be ready for Melrose’s game against Stirling County in November.

“The current pitch at the Greenyards is only used 25 times per year,” Paul Franklin from Scottish Borders Council said.

“This will significanlty increase the usage. Melrose RFC is committed to the change and is becoming more community focused.”