STRONG bonds were formed between two Clacks teams at the weekend after 50 hilltops were conquered to celebrate two gold anniversaries.

Hillfoots Rugby Football Club and Ochils Mountain Rescue Team (OMRT) both celebrated their 50th anniversaries in 2021 with members meeting at the weekend to mark both the milestones and recent fundraising efforts.

The meeting on Sunday, March 27, saw OMRT visit Tillicoultry Park with one of their mountain rescue Land Rovers after members of the rugby club climbed hills in the area, raising £500 for the team.

The idea to climb the hilltops initially came as a way of retaining interest and motivation when contact sports were suspended during the pandemic.

Soon after, the rugby club's former captain Alan Steele realised 2021 also marked the gold anniversary of the mountain rescue team and the fundraising initiative was soon added.

The club's Alistair Spowage, also a former captain, identified 50 hilltops within 10km of the Tillicoultry clubhouse and set out the challenge to flag and bag the peaks during July and August last year.

He told the Advertiser: “It was a great opportunity to help the community while keeping ourselves fit, using the playground at our doorstep.”

The Ochils provide the perfect backdrop to rugby for 'Foots and indeed, many teams envy the views when they visit Tilly Park.

Alistair added: “Marrying the rugby pitches with the hills in the background, we thought: why not get up into these hills and actually use them?”

The first hilltop was flagged by Robert Kelley, 9, accompanied by his mum Aileen at Andrew Gannell Hill.

The final summit, reached on August 31, was Steele's Knowe, appropriately bagged by Alan Steele with his young son and friends.

Young Robert, who flagged the first hill, is the grandson of one of the club's founders, Bob Dewar, and was invited at the weekend to present a commemorative collage to the mountain rescue volunteers.

OMRT leader Robert Davidson accepted the collage, accompanied by Colin Aitken – who wore two hats as he also plays rugby in Tillicoultry and bagged a few of the hilltops himself.

Hillfoots RFC has weathered the pandemic, with the First XV enjoying a successful season.

The 50th anniversary was marked by the production of the commemorative booklet Fifty Years Together – An Incomplete History of HRFC.

It tells the club's story from 1971 to present and is available from the clubhouse.

The club was also delighted that a depiction of its ram's head motif is featured in the Clackmannanshire Tapestry, which was revealed last week.