The Edinburgh Academical Football Club is the oldest rugby club in Britain and the second oldest in the world, with as rich and colorful a history as any sporting organization on this planet. From its earliest days the club and its members have played a central role in most of the key developments in the game of rugby football, in a process which has seen the sport grow from 'a game of the most primitive kind; crude and devoid of regulation or rule' into a multi-million pound industry which creates superstars of its players and global brands of its teams. The club was heavily involved in organizing the first ever international rugby match in 1871. That game between Scotland and England was played at its Raeburn Place ground and there was six Academicals in the victorious Scotland team that day.The following year the club was one of eight founding members of the prototype Scottish Rugby Union; and when a bitter feud threatened to derail the fledgling International Championship during the 1880s, several Edinburgh Academicals were intimately involved in both causing and solving the problem.
During its 150 years the club has been home to a multitude of magnificent players and just as many wonderful characters, from Scotland stars in the early days such as R.W. 'Bulldog' Irvine, Charles 'Hippo' Reid, Ninian Finlay and Harry Stevenson, to W.E. Maclagan who captained the first official British touring side in 1891, G.P.S. Macpherson who captained Scotland to their first ever Grand Slam in 1925, and David Sole who became Scotland's third and so far last Grand Slam captain 65 years, to players of a more recent vintage such as Mike Blair, Scott Murray and Tom Phillip.To celebrate the club's sesquicentennial year, "The Accies" looks back on the rich history of Edinburgh Accies, examining the great names and feats that have helped make Raeburn Place such a bastion of the Scottish, British and world game, and sealing its place in the annals as the cradle of Scottish rugby. This is the remarkable history of a remarkable club.
David Barnes played club rugby for a number of years before being forced to retire from the game following a knee injury. Since then he has forged a career as a freelance writer, covering clubs, pro-team and international rugby for various Scottish newspapers. He is the author of Centre of Excellence: The Jim Renwick Story, also published by Birlinn.