On Friday 24th March 2006, five brave young lads embarked on a voyage of discovery!The "Motley Crew" for this fact finding mission comprised of Ronan, Robert, Duncan, Lewis and Michael, all friends and members of Musselburgh Rugby Football Club (Mini Section). They left Musselburgh after a lunch, of bacon rolls and headed off to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby, accompanied by David, Derek, Fran and Shona ("The Parents"!!!)
Here you find the "Motley Crew" sitting on the steps outside the shop, where they had already been and mercifully "The Parents" had been let off remarkably lightly!!!
We gathered here and waited for Jim, the intrepid guide to the darkest and most secret areas of this most hallowed ground.
The first part of the tour took us up to the very top of the Stadium to where the TV commentators sit and discuss the game. Here we were given a potted history of the ground. It was built on 19 acres of land which was bought from the Edinburgh Polo Club in 1922. The first game played here was on 21st March 1925 and was against England and it saw Scotland win their first Grand Slam when they beat them 14-11. The crowd that day was in excess of 70,000. (A world record crowd was in 1975, when it reached more than 104,000 in a game against Wales).The stadium was refurbished between 1982-1994, to make it all seating and it now seats approximately 68,000.
We then moved on up to the "The Bill McLaren Press Deck"(called after Bill McLaren when he retired in 2002 after 50 years of commentating), here we saw where the press meet prior to the game and saw some of the notes taken by Scotlands' best loved Rugby commentator, Bill McLaren. In this photo you see Lewis, Duncan, Ronan, Robert and Michael sitting in the very seats that the press sit during a game. On match days, a total of 21 cameras are positioned around the stadium to beam live action to a television audience of millions.
Just in front of here and slightly to the right is the Royal Box where, at Scotland games, you usually find HRH Princess Anne, the Patron of Scottish Rugby since 1986/87.
We also visited the hospitality area, where you find a variety of multi-purpose accommodation, which can be used for match hospitality, meetings, seminars, training, wedding receptions, charity dinners etc. There are 10 prestigious Hospitality Boxes, which were originally named after the 10 premier rugby grounds in Scotland. Each box caters for up to 12 people. There are also various suites which cater for 100's at a time.
Here "The Motley Crew" are seen sitting in the foyer of the Hospitality area, which over-looks the hallowed ground!
This really concluded the "boring bit" of the tour for the intrepid explorers. Next we were off to the changing rooms! (Unfortunately there were NO scantily clad rugby players lurking in the changing rooms or baths......!!)
The "Motley Crew" all seemed to become excited at the prospect of being in the same dressing room that the Scotland team use. Robert was really pleased when he got his picture taken standing in the seat that one of his hero's, Chris Paterson used. Next there was a visit to the room where they have ice baths after the games and I must admit we were slightly disappointed when we discovered there was no longer communal baths!!!!! These are no longed allowed due to Health and Safety issues about blood injuries etc.
Robert is sitting on the steps that allow the players to step into the deep "ice" tanks. You can see the communal showers behind him.
From here we went into the players gym, which comprised of several bikes and weight lifting stations. Jim our guide informed us that the Scotland squad used to practice their "line outs" in this room as there was an area with a raised roof that allowed them to do that. Unfortunately this is where the weight lifting equipment was installed and the squad can no longer use this area. Maybe they should move the weights to somewhere else coz during the Six Nations this year they sure needed to work on their "line outs"!!!!!!!
Ronan was disappointed that he wasn't allowed on one of the bikes!!!!!!
The next part of the tour took us over to the visitors changing room, which is currently being used by The Edinburgh Gunners. It certainly wasn't as tidy as the "Home Team" changing room, but I suppose that is because it isn't in use all the time.
At Murrayfield there are actually 5 changing rooms, one home, one visitor, two back up and a referee's changing room.
In this area there is also a kit room where thousands of pieces of kit are handled each season for the numerous Scotland sides, as well as the match officials and staff.
The medical room is also near here and is in use all year round, and on match days it resembles a mini hospital, with a doctor, dentist, surgeon and physio all in attendance. This room is also used for doing the drug tests on all the players.
I suppose the most exciting part of the whole adventure for kids and adults alike was the part where we actually got out onto the side of the park and imagining how it would feel to run down the tunnel and on to the pitch with the ground filled to capacity. Unfortunately no one is allowed on to the pitch (unless you are a player that is!!!!!)The boys will have to really concentrate on their rugby if they want to do that.
Here you see Ronan and Robert as near as they could get to the "hallowed ground". In the back ground, just to the left of them you can see the visiting team dug out. The Scotland team officials usually sit in the stand just behind where the press sit.
Here they are at the end of the tour, taken in the tunnel. Duncan, Robert and Lewis at the back with Ronan and Michael (with hat) in front.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, but some of us were slightly disappointed that there is not a museum at the moment and that the Culcutta Cup was not on display for all to see, especially since it hasn't been at Murrayfield for past 6 years!!! However Jim did say that they were hoping to get the museum up and running again sometime soon.
Robert was most upset that he didn't bump into any of the Edinburgh Gunners players. (so was I!!!!!!) However the only thing he did bump into was a barrier which he hit running at full speed and it hit him on the head and it "pole axed" him. However amidst lots of tears and noise he seemed to be fine and there was no evidence of bruising or bump on his fore head.