“Build it and they will come” is the famously misremembered quote from the movie Field of Dreams but for Edinburgh Rugby and Myreside at present it remains a case of “build it and they will reserve judgment until convinced it is worth coming to”.
The official attendance for last Friday’s first home game – a 35-18 win over the Dragons – was 3,324, which is over two thousand short of capacity at the revamped George Watson’s College ground, with the two stands behind the posts, which are the centrepiece of the Myreside project, woefully populated.
It would be premature and unfair to form conclusions about the move from the cavernous and clearly unsuitable BT Murrayfield to an enhanced, compact club ground after just one home game but it is clear that a lot of work lies ahead if Edinburgh are to replicate anything approaching what Glasgow have achieved at Scotstoun in the last few years.
Of course, the key aspect in that comparison is that Glasgow first built a successful, entertaining, ultimately championship-winning team more than worth the price of an ever-scarcer ticket and that is surely the key to making the Myreside move, which started as a six-game trial in January, a success after years of underperforming malaise at the capital club. Edinburgh might be much more of a rugby city than its football-obsessed western rival but there remains a suspicion that the capital market may be a bit too middle class, with more deeply-entrenched club loyalties, to create the kind of raucous atmospheres experienced at big Scotstoun nights.
After a solid start to the Richard Cockerill era, the challenge is to prove that perception wrong. Moves have been made to address teething problems of last season and provide a better match-night experience to supporters, but Edinburgh defence coach Calum MacRae is adamant that the first responsibility is on the management and players to create a product worth sampling.
“All supporters look to buy into and affiliate with a team they respect,” he said. “They see the qualities that we all want to see in respect of the Scottish people and Scottish players. We are not going to win every single game this year, we have to be realistic in our mindset, but one of the things that we can expect from our players is that they will go to the wall every single game.”