Statue of Hawick motorcycle ace Jimmy Guthrie

Rugby is a minority sport in Hawick! Despite a history of 60 or more international players with over 700 caps between them, twelve Scottish championships, two Scottish Cup wins, the reflected fame of television commentator, the late Bill McLaren, and seven quite separate rugby clubs, more townsfolk are involved in the wide range of other sporting activities. The international fame of Sir Chay Blyth in sailing or of Jimmy Guthrie, Steve Hislop and Stuart Easton in motor cycling are examples of Teries rising to the top in other sports.

The importance of the annual Common Riding for example, with its horse-related activities, has encouraged generations of lads to take to the saddle, and the number who have ridden on the racecourses of Britain in recent times is in double figures. Additionally there are four local training stables.

Indeed the range of activities extends to angling, archery, bowls – both indoor and outdoor, boxing, cricket, cycling, darts, field archery, golf, harriers, hockey, motor-cycling, orienteering, professional running, small wheels, snooker, soccer, squash, swimming, tennis, yoga. Add the strenuous exercise of Scottish country dancing, and the cerebral challenges of bridge, chess, and whist and you’ll agree that’s quite a choice.

Local athletes have been involved at international level, in nine different sports. The all-weather sports facility which opened in October 2005, the excellent gym facilities at Think Fitness, the range of activities within Teviotdale Leisure Centre, and the manner in which local clubs and groups plan development projects to maintain and promote their sport, all testify to the importance of sport in the local community, creating a path to that national and international success.

Hawick is a small community, with just 15000 inhabitants. Be successful, and you’re the talk of the town: front-page news. Be off the pace one week and you’ll be asked questions on High Street. Townsfolk are knowledgeable about their sport, and they want to give their support.

Cycling Criterium event in atounf Hawick town centre, 2009

Let’s go back to rugby. Hawick RFC, the Greens, have the largest travelling support in the country, bringing joy to the hearts of club treasurers throughout Scotland as they see their biggest gate of the year when the Greens come to call. Attendance at Murrayfield for the Scottish Cup Final has been highest when Hawick are there, particularly when one of the town’s ‘junior’ sides may also be contesting the Bowl competition. Imagine the scene in spring 2005 when the Scottish Youth Cup Final was contested at Murrayfield between Hawick PSA and (the winners) Hawick Wanderers. Add the record of success of Hawick Albion in the Under 16 competition and the future of this sport in the town seems bright.

In fact, think back over all the activities mentioned above. Sport occupies a prominent place in the life of the town, and its future generally seems bright. Which activity are you going to get involved in?