Alex McQuade has been honoured for 40 years of association with Falkirk rugby club.
He picked up the Falkirk Sports Council award for local services to sport at last month’s ceremony in the town hall.
It marks four decades for the Sunnyside honourary president during which time he’s gone from player, to president and drastically expanded the club.
He told the Falkirk Herald: “It was back in 2004 I could see things were wrong and believed I had something to offer to address it. We had dropped two leagues in two seasons.
“Playing the likes of Crieff and Carnoustie – good clubs – but that’s all they would be. We had a big catchment outside Glasgow and Edinburgh, probably about the same as Ayr and they were in the Premier, so why not?”
That prompted nine promotions in the seasons that followed, including five consecutive championships. Now the club has an academy, involvement with local schools, a girls division and even a third XV.
“The club is snowballing,” he added. “We have 200 kids involved and one of only five academies in Scotland. We have a team full of homegrown players and have seen Finn Russell pass through the club and become a Scotland international playing at the World Cup. Now Lewis Skinner and the Faulds brothers are coming through to follow him for international honours.”
McQuade also represents Falkirk RFC in many capcities, is involved at the local Trust and with the SRU – but rugby was not his first choice of sport.
“I was a sprinter back in the day, for Forth Valley athletics club. We’d race at Bridge of Allan, Cowal and the Highland Games circuit, and I’d had a few wins, but then I injured my achilles and couldn’t return to my previous level. Friends played rugby and asked me along, put me on the wing and threw the ball to me!”
The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
McQuade put the funds together to rebuild the club-house at the end of Dorrator Road in Camelon in 1978 and retired from playing in 1983, but it was during his time as president most success came to the Sunnyside club.
“We brought in people with quality like Jim Manson and Kevin McKenzie. The thought was if we created some momentum we could build on that and that’s what happened.
“Most recently we have improved our pitches by raising £450,000 and it is now one of the best in Scotland. SRU age groups train at Sunnyside, the French Ladies Six Nations team trained here recently and we’ve held big important play-off matches like GHA versus Stirling County. That’s a real feather in the cap for the club.”
So too is it a feather in his cap to be recognised for his local services to sport, and he received his award last month at the Falkirk Sports Council award ceremony after a nomination from “someone within the club”.
Mr McQuade stepped down from his president’s role three years ago and was succeeded by Matt Dodd, but he remains honourary president and still actively involved at Sunnyside.