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The big 1-5-0

Generations of alumni return to celebrate 150 years of the Sports Union.

Former Presidents of the Edinburgh University Sports Union
Former Presidents of the Edinburgh University Sports Union. Photo by Oliver Buchanan Photography .

Camaraderie among club mates is built solidly over hours spent training together and encouraging each other to perform at their best. As such, achievements on the track and pitch, or in the water, often count among the most enduring of university memories. This sentiment was in strong display during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Sports Union (EUSU) held on 5 March this year.

Flying start

The day began with former EUSU executive committee staff and club members descending on Peffermill playing fields for some friendly competition. A combined game of ultimate frisbee kicked things off with both alumni and students taking part - showcasing one of the newer additions to the EUSU’s 64 clubs.

Older alumni may be interested to learn that students can now sign up for korfball, a descendant of basketball and netball, or try out shotokan karate.

Heritage remembered

After refuelling, Alain Chainey, former Director of Sport and keen historian of the Sports Union, introduced a specially created exhibition featuring key people and moments from the past 150 years.

Today’s Sports Union began in May 1866 as a committee formed to organise athletic sports at the University. While the first president of Edinburgh University Athletic Club (EUAC) was elected in 1891, it wasn’t until the dawn of the 20th century that saw the establishment of the Edinburgh University Women’s Athletic Club (EUWAC). That was 8 years after women were first admitted to study for degrees.

The amalgamation of EUAC and EUWAC in 1970 spawned the Sports Union, which moved into its current base at the Pleasance a decade later.

Sporting alumni share their memories of student days
Sporting alumni share their memories of student days. Photo by Oliver Buchanan Photography.

View an interactive map showing the development of sports facilities at Edinburgh (Google Maps)

Role models

Swapping sports kit and gear for suits and dresses, the celebrations continued in Teviot Row House at a gala dinner. Senior Vice-Principal, Professor Charlie Jeffrey, thanked guests for their contributions to Edinburgh’s strong sports reputation today, pointing to our 3rd position in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league table.

As dinner was served, former EUSU presidents and staff took to the microphone to pay homage to their fellow sports alumni, recounting fond anecdotes and sharing how their experiences with their clubs shaped their lives after university.

The evening made me appreciate the time I spent at Edinburgh University something I don't really think I have done since I graduated! It also made me appreciate all the work undertaken by the EUSU presidents over the years to ensure that sport remains a very important part of university life.

Charlotte FlemingHare & Hounds Club, Blue 1988

Pursuing excellence

As well as celebrating the past, the 150th reunion was also a chance for alumni to support the sporting endeavours of current and future students through a raffle and auction. Prize items included a signed Scotland 2016 Six Nations match ball from their win against Italy, and signed kit from Olympic swimmer Michael Jamieson.

The proceeds raised through the Sports Union 1866 Fund will enable further club development, which also means that students are better supported to achieve competitive success at the highest level.

As the evening’s festivities continued with a ceilidh, casino and then a disco, it was clear that dancing was another activity the guests excelled in.

For me, sports was the main event – an arena where key friendships and memories are made.

Hatty CumberEUSU Alumni Officer 2015/16

Related Links

Sports Union alumni website

View more photos from the event on the Sports Union Facebook page