Come Ashore Cup
Thurso, Saturday 22 October 2022
Caithness Evergreens 20, Orkney Vikings 7 (approximately!)
Last weekend saw 28 Orkney Vikings (over 35 years old veterans) from Orkney RFC, one Lady supporter and an all-important Physio travelled to Thurso to take part in the inaugural “Come Ashore Cup” in memory of Alexander Mill who tragically died around 16 months ago.
The weekend was a celebration in his memory with a real focus on mental health and the importance of speaking up and that “it is ok not to be ok”.
The Orkney Vikings were honoured to be invited to join this amazing event and even sent an advance party across to check out the lay of the land and make sure that all preparations were in hand!
The day started with a game for the beautifully made trophy, which was an Orkney Bride’s cog on an engraved Caithness Stone base. This was played for over 3 x 20 minute thirds between the Caithness Evergreens and the Orkney Vikings, then an additional 2 x 15 minute halves between a combined Orkney / Caithness survivors side against the Caithness 2nd XV, both played under Veterans rugby laws of uncontested scrums, no lifting at lineout’s, no kicking outside of the 22 and no overly vigorous clearing out at rucks.
That was followed by a charity auction which raised an amazing total of over £12,500 for 2 amazing charities, the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution and The John O’Groats Development Trust play park project in memory of one of the Caithness players wife, Julie McGee who passed away suddenly recently.
This was backed up by a second try quite shortly afterwards down the opposite wing when James Mill made good ground before being “stopped rather abruptly”, not for the last time, by Orkney Viking Don Tualasea, but he still managed to get the ball back to his forwards who rumbled over for the score.
The Vikings started to get much better ball and string some good phases of play together in the 2nd third, managing to hold the Evergreens out and eventually got on the scoresheet, when Glen McLellan, playing stand-off at the time, did a dummy scissors move with Trevor Spence that saw him find a gap and to his horror see that he had almost half the pitch to cover if he were to score, which he did (eventually) with a couple of Caithness players hanging onto him at the try line! Colin Risbridger converted taking the score to 10-7 to the Evergreens.
The Caithness side started the 3rd session stronger and goot off to a quick start when Stuart McIntosh took a crash ball on the Orkney 22, sailed through a couple of half tackles (I don’t blame them given his size and the pace he was going at!!) to score to the left of the post. Again the conversion was missed (I think!).
The game was finished by another Caithness score out wide after great hands from Steven Campbell through the middle put their big winger into space out wide.
After consultation with the organisers, we think that that final score was 20 points to 7 in favour of the Caithness Evergreens, but if there were any successful conversions, we sincerely apologise to Norman Foubister!
Following the game, one of the main driving forces behind the weekend, Caithness Evergreen player, CRFC Chairman and cousin of Alexander, Russell Mill made a very emotive speech to the huge crowd and called upon Alexander’s wife Norma to present the trophy to Evergreen Captain Will Mill.
The presentation was then followed by a few minutes of reflection while the piper played Highland Cathedral.
All in all it was an absolutely amazing weekend for everyone who attended and a really fitting event in Alexanders memory as he would have loved it.
Rugby is much more than a game, it is a culture. A culture that is based on discipline, respect, honour and friendship. It opens doors for you, it looks after you no matter where you are in the world. Yes we knock 7 bells out of the opposition on the pitch, but as soon as we walk into the bar after the game, we are all friends and this stays with you for the rest of your days.
A Just Giving fundraising page has been set up if you’d like to donate
Orkney Vikings Touring Squad:
Bob Gilmour, Dave Shearer, Gareth Davies, Glen McLellan, Graeme King, Stewart Spence, Garry Coltherd, Colin Risbridger, Rodney Spence, Duncan Montgomery, Don Tualasea , Erland Drever, Martin Harper, Scott Cooper, Stephen Kemp, Steven Groat, Steven Wylie, Trev Spence, Alan Pirie, Derek Nicolson, Alan Thomson, Angus Firth, Bryan Linklater, Murray Inkster, Pete Eggeling, James Smith, Johnny Copland, Teenie Cromarty
Contacts & Location