Bouncy castles, provost Pat Reid, a beer festival and pipers made the formal opening of Falkirk rugby club’s CALA Park a day to remember on Saturday.
Premier Division Champions Melrose were also visiting to formally open the new park which includes a covered stand down the west side of the pitch, now in the shadow of the clubhouse.
The pre-match hospitality took place there for the Provost, councillors, Melrose officials and travelling supporters, sponsors and former Falkirk players. It was expanded by a marquee adjoining the clubhouse.
However, when the match finally commenced in the heady and festive atmosphere, it took only three minutes for the visiting Borders side to open the scoring when their forwards took control from a lineout close to Falkirk’s line for an unconverted try.
Showing their intent, and to their credit, the Sunnysiders struck back seven minutes later when club captain and scrum-half Mark Bruce showed a clean pair of heels in Melrose’s 22m area when he scampered through, in an angular run, for a try under the uprights which stand-off Jonny Hope duly converted.
Ominously however the visitors began to show their prowess and speed of handling when a breakout by their fleet-footed full back produced a well taken converted try, which must have pleased watching coach and 1990 Grand Slam hero Craig Chalmers.
Managing to stem the flow for the next 15 minutes or so, Falkirk conceded two unconverted and one converted tries in the closing ten minutes of the half to trail by 29-7 at the break.
Taking more punishment after the recommencement of play Melrose then proceeded to run in a further two converted and an unconverted try over a 30 minute period of time.
Nevertheless the Sunnysiders etched out a deserved consolation try when a neat break from Jonny Hope near the Borderers line saw full back Chris Harris take the scoring pass,with Hope again adding the conversion.
Alas the Premier Division Champions had the final say in the afternoon’s affairs when they added a further converted try to dampen moods on a momentous day in the Sunnysiders’ history.