Aberdeen Grammar brought down the curtain on their National League Division 1 campaign with an eight-try win against bottom side Falkirk at Rubislaw on Saturday, giving a great send-off to three long-serving players.
For most of the bigger than normal Rubislaw crowd it was an opportunity to say farewell to the trio of favourites calling time on their careers at the Granite City club.
Centre and captain Alex Ratcliffe signed off with a stunning try and prop Colin Neilson side-stepped his way into the sunset. But the cheer of the day was reserved for winger Grant Walker who, after 14 years, was playing his last game.
Forwards coach Iain Stanger paid tribute to the three stalwarts.
He said: “They will all be missed, especially Grant Walker who has been a great example to other players.
“His game management and direct running have been a feature at the club for 14 years. I coached him at primary school and had the pleasure of playing alongside him in the Premiership.”
Stanger added: “Alex Ratcliffe has been a good captain and an elusive runner, while Colin Neilson has been a very good prop and club man,”
Walker was suitably modest about his contribution.
He said: “It has been a great privilege to play for Grammar and just great to sign off with a try.
“It was also good to have my mother and father here today, along with my wife Faye and daughter Anna. I will, however, still be around and have agreed to serve on the committee.”
Given all the emotion of the occasion, the end-of-season game was almost incidental.
But it gave Grammar the opportunity to clock up a second double of the season, an eleventh win out of 22 starts, and seventh place in the league. Falkirk have lost 21 of their 22 games.
Grammar winger Calum Ruxton got the show on the road with a well-taken try in four minutes which stand off Bryn Perrott was unable to convert, only for Falkirk’s Glen Faulds to tie up the scores in 11 minutes with an unconverted try.
Ratcliffe then dashed through the visiting defence for a try converted by Perrott, who also kicked a penalty.
Grammar grabbed two more touchdowns, to claim a try bonus point and lead 27-5 at half-time. Centre Murray Mitchell and hooker Matthias Schosser were the scorers.
The Rubislaw side continued to dominate the game in the second period, adding four more tries and another penalty. The home scorers were full back Sam Knudson, scum half Jake Gray, number eight Greig Ryan and finally the Walker moment to make the home total 52 for the afternoon, Perrott added one second-half conversion. Falkirk refused to roll over, adding three more unconverted tries, attributed to centre Connor Faulds, lock Grant Harman and flanker Marko Mladenovic.
But the day belonged to Grammar and, more specifically, to Messrs Neilson, Ratcliffe and Walker.
© Jack Nixon
Aberdeen Rugby: Sam Knudson; Calum Ruxton, Alex Ratcliffe, Murray Mitchell, Grant Walker: Bryn Perrott, Jake Gray; Calum Reddish, Matthias Schosser, Ross Anderson; Drew Whitehead, Aaron Robertson; Will Alton, Alec Dravitski, Greig Ryan.
Replacements: Colin Neilson, Ewan Stewart, Doug Russell, Scott Renfrew.
Falkirk: Cameron McKenna; Calum Rennie, Connor Faulds, Andrew McNab, Alan Connolly; Glen Faulds, Fionnlagh Call; John McKenna, Andrew Gillespie, Lewis Skinner; Grant Harman, Stewart McCulloch; Rowen Crawford, Marko Mladenovic, Ryan Hosie.
Replacements: Keith Slade, Sean McGlynn, Ross Denny, Thomas Fleming,