WHITECRAIGS RUGBY CLUB was founded in 1928 in response to the need for an open rugby dub in the south-side of Glasgow, and the team played its first game on 15th September 1928 at Deaconsbank.
The ground was at that time tenanted by Whitecraigs Hockey Club, and the new rugby club sub-tenanted the less attractive part of the ground farther from the road. A stream ran down the middle of the ground, and as the washing facilities were both primitive and overused the stream was frequently used for washing after games.
As the rugby club grew bigger more space was needed, and the club built a new clubhouse with a large communal bath, making it no longer necessary to rely on the stream, although the myth still persists.
The rugby club then took over the tenancy of the whole ground. At that time, prior to the war, the club was playing in an unofficial league with Kilmarnock, Ayr, Uddingston, Bearsden, Lenzie, Cartho, Craigielea, Ardrossan, Old Spierians (now Garnock), Royal Technical College (now Strathclyde University), and Harland & Wolff, Whitehill, and Blairhill (all now defunct).
Soon after the outbreak of war the ground was taken over by the War Office, and the club disbanded. Deaconsbank became an Army camp, then a prison camp, and after the war the huts were taken over by squatters who stayed for many years.
Eventually, thanks to the tenacity of the pre-war members, the ground was eventually bought by the Club with vacant possession. Its condition was, however, absolutely dreadful. The foundations were cleared, the stream was piped, two pitches were relaid, a new clubhouse was built, and the club was finally refounded in 1960. The club after 21 years of war and post-war difficulties, resumed play on 8th October 1960 enjoying facilities which were at least the equal of any other club in Glasgow.
Progress since the re-founding has been steady. A bar was added and the Clubhouse was extended, both for social and changing purposes, squash courts were built, training lights were installed and an all-weather training area was added. Mini rugby and later midi and junior rugby were introduced successfully. Most significantly an area of ground, extending to an acre or so, was bought as an investment, and was latterly sold to the nursing home at a very healthy profit.
With the funds thus earned, the Club, through the associated Limited Company, began to consider the future. It had to be accepted that the pitches were unsatisfactory for much of the season. They were badly drained and not level. The clubhouse was quite inadequate for the numbers that now used it. With the money from the sale planning permission was obtained for Deaconsbank, and the ground was marketed, fetching a very handsome price. The ground at West Lodge was purchased, the three level, and dry, pitches were formed, and the magnificent new clubhouse was built.
Whereas the Club had about nine acres, it now has about twenty five. It is a sobering thought that the original development at Deaconsbank cost roughly l% of the new development at West Lodge!
We therefore enter a new era for the Club, full of optimism and ambition. The standard of rugby has been improving over the last few years, and we are anxious to maintain the upward progress. We are not so reliant on outside players, as we now have our own home-grown supply. This certainly does not mean that outsiders are not welcome. As always we shall look forward to a diversity of experience and character in the club.
We shall remain a non-professional club in the foreseeable future, and will strive to improve our standard, and play our part in developing the game in Scotland. We shall also maintain the welcoming reputation that the Club has always enjoyed.
We look forward to the future and, while doing so, also look back and remember the tremendous debt owed by the club to those young men who came back from the war and rebuilt the club.
(The prewar history of the club was provided by the late Walter Strang, a founding member of the club whose family’s name was virtually synonymous with Whitecraigs. It is a matter of great sadness that Walter and many of the founder members are not here to see the new Whitecraigs.)