Memorable tribute for rugby great
MORE than 500 fans, young and old, swarmed into Almond Park last week for the Donald Naysmith Testimonial match last week.
On the field a Livingston select XV was battling against the all star Forth Valley Fossils to honour almost four decades of selfless devotion to Livingston rugby from Donald, which has seen him serve the club as both a talented player and office bearer since 1971.
The West Lothian School Pipe Band provided a stirring rendition of Flower of Scotland and with current Scottish International Chris Paterson in attendance the stage was set for a rugby feast.
The Livingston select side was made up predominately of past and present players with no fewer than eight former club captains taking the field to pay their respects to Donald.
Founder member Jack Lauder also returned to the club after a number of years absence.
The SRU president Jim Stevenson, a long standing friend of Donald, also took his place on the field of play whilst Donald’s 15-year-old son Ewan, lined up next to his coaches Barry Black and Ian Steel.
The opposition, Forth Valley Fossils were predominantly made up of players that had represented Scotland and played professional rugby with healthy support from players from Grangemouth, Falkirk and Linlithgow.
Livingston started brightly and moved the ball well along their backline with Andy Adam and Rab Barrie providing great support in the loose play.
Jim Moran accelerated in to space and scorched clear for the opening try after barely five minutes of play. When Ian Steel dotted down to make the score 10-0, the Livvy boys knew there would be a strong response from their talented counterparts.
The Fossils started to increase the intensity of the breakdown area and showed wonderful touches from their experienced backline to force Livingston in to some last ditch defending to preserve their lead.
Players of the quality of Mark McKenzie, Rowen Shepherd, Craig Joiner and Graham Shiel started to find gaps in the Livingston defence and managed to bring the scores level at 10-10 at half time.
Physiotherapy Scotland were worked hard during the interval to patch a few aching limbs together to ensure that both teams had a full compliment of players in the second half.
The Forth Valley Fossils really stepped up a gear in the second period and Livingston had to thank Peter Harris for clearing the danger on more than one occassion, Andy McMahon was also proving to be a danger to the Fossils and he burst through three desparing tackles to score under the posts to extend Livingstons lead to 15 -10.
Boyd Lumsden somehow missed the conversion from straight in front of the posts.
Forth Valley tied the scores again at 15 - 15 before Aaron Johnston burst on to a floated pass to scorch in for a well deserved try to give Livvy a 20 -15 lead with only a few minutes remaining.
The Fossils showed their class and scored a try in the corner from a clever kick by McKenzie to bring the scoreline to 20 - 20, his conversion crept just wide and the referee brought proceedings to a close, much to the delight of the supporters and both sets of players.
The rugby community had pulled together on a memorable evening to acknowledge their true depth of feeling for Donald Naysmith.
A willing servant of the game and the club that he loves Doanld continues to touch peoples hearts with his cheery disposition and passion for life.
All proceeds, which were in excess of £5,000, raised on the night with the money have been split evenly between Donald’s two nominated charities. Hearts and Balls (supporting injured rugby players) and the Jamie King Uro Oncology Fund.
With a charity dinner at Murrayfield scheduled for Friday, June 12 (tickets for which are now available from Livingston Rugby Club) there are high expectations that both charities coffers will grow considerably.
Donald Naysmith select: N Scobie, R MacLauchlan, B Black, J Aslet, A Adam, S Logan, R Barrie, B Lumsden, P Harris, G Kidd, D Wilson, I Steel, N Gibson, J Moran, A Johston, D Martin, C Hunter, K Drysdale, A McMahon, E Naysmith, L Barret, J Stevenson.
Forth Valley Fossils: S Penman, G McKelvey, A Watt, S Campbell, M Norval, D McNicol, G Scott, D Holmes, G Jesty, M McKenzie, C Joiner, G Shiel, A Manson, J Blundell, R Shepherd, C Cameron, W Sinclair, A McWatt, J Norval, R Inness, D Wishart, J McLay, D McIntosh, D Lyon, M Tomney, G Steadman.