FIVE decades have now passed since Hillfoots RFC played their first match and the club plan to celebrate the half century when they're allowed to do so.

Hillfoots RFC played their first every match at Tillicoultry public park on Saturday, March 6, 1971 against Alloa RFC's fourth XV, with the home side winning 18-11.

The club was formed from a particularly successful rugby playing year group in 1970 at Alva Academy with players looking for a way to continue playing rugby after leaving school.

Not satisfied with the arrangements at the established local clubs in the area, and showing an entrepreneurial spirit that lingers to this day, they set about forming their own brand new club and Hillfoots RFC was born.

Current president Peter Norman, who played in that first match, said: "We are obviously gutted that we have not been able to play on the park this season at all and that we cannot celebrate the first fifty years of Hillfoots RFC in the style that we would like, but we will save our plans for when we can all safely gather together and reminisce.

"Some fifty years after first playing for Hillfoots RFC, I am delighted to be still associated with the club and driving it forward."

The club has sought to keep rugby in the Hillfoots going for as long as possible but, with Covid-19, the adult game and training never really got going this season.

However, until the most recent lockdown, Hillfoots have been able to keep the kids rugby going both in Tilly Park and the 3G pitches at Alva Academy and youth rugby with Kelpies Rugby, run in accordance with strict guidelines from the SRU.

Club rugby development officer Barry Munro said: "The most recent lockdown has been hard on our kids, and we have tried to keep them engaged with weekly challenges, such as who can walk or run the farthest in a week, or who can balance on one leg the longest.

"It's been fun, but we are so looking forward to getting back out onto the park."

Paddy Sherrard, club vice-president, told of the planned celebrations for the club's anniversary.

He said: "We planned to do a big anniversary dinner at Devonvale Hall and a special match in the afternoon.

"It's all on hold so as and when we can we'll look to [rearrange] it."

He continued: "It's been hard for the adults, but we understand it.

"The kids, especially the juniors, they've been finding it really difficult. Especially not being at school and not being able to run around with their mates, I think they've found it really quite hard."

"In theory, with the schools coming back, we hope to run an Easter camp for the kids. Fingers crossed we'll be able to do that."

Club president Peter Norman added: "We have some exciting plans for the future to make sure that good rugby football will be played in the Hillfoots for years to come."