JUST seven days have passed since Stornoway Rugby Club hosted one of the parties of their lifetime and things could be about to get even better for them, writes Eric Mackinnon.
The Hebridean Heroes ran amok against Ross Sutherland to seal title glory and with it a possible promotion to an as yet unconfirmed destination with a restructuring due to take place.
“There is a realistic chance that we will be going up next season, which is a fantastic challenge for this side,” explained Stornoway Rugby Club coach Angus Mackay.
“The excitement from this win will hopefully spur us all on over the summer and allow us to plan for what lies ahead.
“It’s brilliant to see so many supporters here today and I think the weather certainly helps. I hope this win and all that is happening with the schools and youth at the moment can raise the profile of the game on the Island. The support we receive here at Bayhead in rain, hail or shine means a great deal to us and I hope we can keep up the momentum next season.”
The game itelf was a monumental occasion as the crowd streamed into Bayhead Pitch for one of the most glorious rugby victories in recent memory.
All around there was a collective euphoria as Stornoway not only achieved their goals but far overreached even their own most ambitious of dreams.
A long season had reached its final act with Stornoway in the box-seat but with plenty to do. They knew their destiny was in their own hands and a win, with a four-try bonus point, would see them lift the Caledonia North West Division Title but in their way stood a Ross Sutherland side in the mood to gatecrash the party.
But as soon as the two sides crossed the white painted battle lines Stornoway rose to the challenge while Sutherland shrank from it.
From the off it was all one-way traffic as Stornoway brutally steamrollered their guests into oblivion on their way to scoring a phenomenal 14 tries to draw level with reigning champions Highland RFC on 50 points but Stornoway’s far superior scoring record gave the Islanders the title.
The four-try bonus point in the bag after just 20mins and the outcome of the game already beyond doubt, Stornoway were able to relax and put on a show for the gathering crowd.
Jerome Curran opened the scoring after three minutes with the first of his brace and was followed with others from CJ Macdonald, Iain McFee, Angus Williams, Euan Macleod, Quintin Nel (2), Roo Stewart (3) and Darren Beattie (3).
It wasn’t all good news on the day for Stornoway though as key man and influential lock Calum Tom Moody left the field in an ambulance after an ankle injury which was later diagnosed as ligament damage.
His injury meant more alterations to an already depleted line out but the home side coped well with the enforced changes. Although the scrum proved to be a weakness on the day, the line out was a constant source of decent possession.
This source was all the backs needed as they were simply immense with the ball in hand. The pace, the lines of running and the handling were all top drawer and matched with some great linking and support from the free running Stornoway pack.
All around the sun-soaked Bayhead turf there were happy smiles and excited voices as the locals embraced and soaked in the adulation hanging in the air.
Had anyone bottled the atmosphere, they would have become an overnight millionaire.
“It’s no more than the lads deserve,” beamed coach Angus Mackay who went on to compliment the players for their attitude and commitment throughout the season.
“What the lads have achieved this season is reward for their hard work and I can’t say how happy I am for them.”