Our season actually started on 27th August at Mansfield Park, Hawick. We didn’t know it at the time, but a creditable 20-20 draw would be the only game that the eventual champions didn’t win.
The performance gave everyone a lift and we followed that with wins against Glasgow Hawks and Musselburgh, giving us a great start to our campaign.
The wind got knocked out of our sails a bit when Edinburgh Accies came from behind to record a 24-20 win at Philiphaugh, but in general we were delighted with our start to the season.
We started October with a tricky visit to Goldenacre to play premiership newbies, Heriots. In a very close game we squeezed home by 17-15, with co-captain Luke Pettie celebrating his 100th appearance in a Selkirk jersey with another fine performance.
We backed that up with another closely fought encounter with GHA, winning 28-14, to maintain a great start to the season. First fifteen Team Manager, Tam Ramage, was presented with a gift from the players after his enforced retirement from the role on health grounds.
At this point we were sitting in 5th place in the league, with 20 points from our first 6 games.
The following week the team travelled to Troon to play the reigning champions Marr. In what was probably the best performance of the season, we came away with a 28-19 win which was built on the back of some great defence and dominant scrummaging.
We finished the first half of the season with a tough, physical game against Currie. We competed well but lost 29-20. Importantly we also lost Andrew Grant-Suttie to a broken cheekbone which ruled him out for the rest of the season.
We finished the month with the return game against Hawick. Again we competed well for most of the game, only losing by 17-8 in the end.
Having suffered back to back defeats at home, against what would turn out to be the league’s top two sides, it was really important that we “got back on the horse” against Glasgow Hawks away.
Another gutsy display, in both defence and attack, helped us to a great 29-19 win, with the highlight being a late interception try for Ben Pickles in the dying moments to seal the game.
This left us with two vital “back to back” games against Jed-Forest, that would ultimately decide on which half of the league table we would end up in.
We ultimately had a convincing win at home by 36-10, which secured our Border League Final position, and followed it up with an equally impressive performance at Riverside where we won 28-19.
At this point we were sitting comfortably in 4th place in the Tennent’s Premiership and starting to dream of a top 4 finish. However, as a lifetime Selkirk supporter, it is “the hope that kills you”.
Injuries and unavailability meant that it was a much changed squad that faced Musselburgh at the start of December. Injuries during the game made this situation even worse, and we fell to a 32-20 defeat to an inspired Musselburgh side that would go on to use this win to build momentum and to eventually side step relegation.
Inclement December weather wiped out the rest of the league programme in the build up to Christmas, but at this point it felt like a blessing as we had so many battered and bruised bodies.
We started the new year with another close win at GHA by 21-17. By doing so we won the inaugural “Breathing Space Cup” and there certainly wasn’t much breathing space between the sides at the end of the game.
It set up the following weeks home match against Marr as a 4th v 5th contest that would ultimately decide which side would end up in the top four. The game was tied at 13-13 with around ten minutes remaining, and was decided by a late try from the visitors for an 18-13 win.
We finished the month with a trip to Raeburn Place against third place Edinburgh Accies where a trio of late penalty misses led to a narrow 15-13 loss.
Our last home league game of the season was against a Heriots side that was fighting for their lives at the foot of the table. The side that “wanted it more” came out on top and we suffered another home loss by 22-5.
That left us with a “dead rubber” of a match up at Currie. We again competed really well for the first hour and were only trailing 21-17 in the early part of the second half, before injuries in the backs eventually led to us losing 45-17.
This meant that we finished the league campaign in a very creditable 5th place, something we would have all been delighted with at the start of the season.
We had 9 wins and 1 draw from our 18 matches, and can be greatly encouraged by how close we came to getting more wins in the other games, with most results being within 10 points of our rivals.
Our ‘A’ tea, had 2 wins and a draw from their 18 fixtures, but their resources were often severely stretched by “call ups” to the senior team. They are a very young squad who will have learned from the experience, and will benefit from playing in a Border Junior League next year.
The highlight of the season came with our Border League final victory against Melrose at Netherdale. The 12-6 final score doesn’t fully do justice to what was a very tight contest, played in fairly awful wet conditions. I was so pleased for the players and coaches that they had something tangible to show for their efforts after such a long and challenging campaign.
We also won a one sided cup match at home against Musselburgh (38-07) before going through to Ayr in the quarter finals where our season finished in a disappointing fashion,, with a 49-13 defeat.
Ross Nixon played his 300th game for Selkirk, which gave the players something to celebrate on the long bus journey home.
All in all I would like to congratulate the players and coaches for the way they have represented the club over the last 12 months, both on and off the field.
There are always challenges for a town team surviving on the back of a population of just over 5000 people, and I think I can justifiably say that the 2022/2023 season will be regarded as a success in that context.
Photos by Grant Kinghorn