Taylor Swift fever may have taken over Murrayfield at the weekend for thousands, but just 13 miles down the road 280 people gathered on Saturday night to have a celebration of their own as Penicuik Rugby Club marked its 100th anniversary.

The extra special end of season dinner brought together many people who have had the Midlothian club close to their hearts over the years and the event was held in a marque next to the clubhouse in the town’s Montgomery Park.

“Nine months of planning and a lot of hard work behind the scenes were all worth it because Saturday was the perfect way to mark the club’s centenary,” proud Penicuik president Gavin McQuillan said.

“The night incorporated the club awards for the season just gone and it meant that everything in the club’s history from past to present was covered at some point during the evening. 

“There were so many familiar faces from across the years at Penicuik Rugby Club there on the night and there were 24 past captains, all four surviving past presidents and guests from our local rival clubs Lasswade and Dalkeith in attendance.

“Representatives from Lismore were there too as they were the club we played in our first ever match while Jim Aitken, the former Scotland prop who played for the club back in the day, was there as was recently retired Scotland women’s international Sarah Law who started her rugby journey with us.

"At the start of the event Jim presented Sarah with a couple of mementos to mark her retirement, which was really nice.

Recently-retired Scotland international Sarah Law (right) with sister Rachel and the evening's host, Bruce AitchisonRecently-retired Scotland international Sarah Law (right) with sister Rachel and the evening's host, Bruce Aitchison (Image: Penicuik RFC)

“Our oldest surviving player Bill Ferguson, who is 91, was a guest of honour too and it was just a fitting way to mark all the great people and the great things that have been linked to the club over the last 100 years.”

Margaret Murray, who was born on August 4 1926, and is the daughter of founder member Andrew Buchan, was made a life member on the night to acknowledge that important link to the club’s history and the contribution of her wider family to the centenary celebrations.

The first XV Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year was Alan Haynes, the first XV Young Player of the Year was Craig Doyle, the second XV Player of the Year was Greg Borthwick, the second XV Players’ Player of the Year was Paddy O’Sullivan and the second XV Young Player of the Year was Hayden Gordon.

The dinner was the latest event as part of a year of centenary celebrations at a club whose first team play in East Region League Division Two.

There has already been a Burns Supper and a centenary match versus Lismore while, in April, the club hosted its sevens tournament. 

The Penicuik sevens teamThe Penicuik sevens team (Image: Penicuik RFC)

This year, though, there was the addition of a women’s competition which will now be an ongoing event as teams will compete for the Centenary Cup each year.

Once everyone has recovered from the dinner, still to come is a history day in August to fill people in on the last 100 years and a whole host of social and rugby events planned until the end of 2024 to encourage people to share their stories and memories of Penicuik Rugby Club.

One of the first mentions of organised rugby in Penicuik is in a press cutting dated December 22 1923 which recorded that:  “In the Public Park on Saturday the game of rugby was played by a number of youths who propose having occasional games.”

Penicuik Rugby Football club was officially born in January 1924 with the first organised game being played later that month.

The first general meeting of the club was held in the Cowan Institute - now the Penicuik Town Hall - on April 30 1924 and was chaired by Dr Charles W. Badger, a former pupil of George Heriot’s School and a former Heriot’s first team rugby player.

He and brother Patrick were instrumental in bringing the game of rugby to Penicuik.

“In that first season of 1924-25 we played a number of local clubs, including Lasswade, Peebles and Dunbar, and the team won 15 of their 22 games,” McQuillan said.

“A decent start and I wonder, could any of the founder members have envisaged how their foundations would have developed over the ensuing century?

"Their foundation has been built upon by the effort and determination of literally thousands of people during these past one hundred years.

“Players, coaches, office bearers, ladies, youth, social members or the many others who have contributed, it's important to recognise and thank all for what has been achieved."

“We have enjoyed various successes including the trailblazing 1967 sevens team who won our very first trophy at Edinburgh Northern event.

“The first XV who won their league in 2015/16 and our various sevens teams over the years who have won multiple tournaments, including our own sevens tournament eight times including wins in three consecutive years between 1989 and 1991.

“We should also recognise other causes for celebration such as our first XV gaining National League promotion in consecutive years to Division Four in 1976-77 and to Division Three in 1977/78.

“The first XV of 1988/89 gained promotion to Division Four, the Second XV gained promotion just last year and the 1988/89 youth team were valiant runners-up in a final at Murrayfield.

“Some of our members have also had notable success at both district and international level, any of these honours at youth level.

“It is with great pride that the club has the notable distinction of producing one of only three Scottish Grand Slam winning captains - Jim Aitken in 1984 - and one of Scotland’s most successful women players - Sarah Law who earned 53 caps.

Jim Aitken captained Scotland to the 1984 Grand SlamJim Aitken captained Scotland to the 1984 Grand Slam (Image: SNS)

“Currently we run two men’s XVs, we have growing Micro and Minis sections and we are looking into expanding our Midi section and our provision for women’s rugby within the club and within our local community.

“These are exciting times at Penicuik Rugby Club and I am proud to be president at this time.”