PRESIDENT of local rugby club Edinburgh Northern, Joe Smith, 61, has been involved in the club he describes as a “second family” for almost forty years.
He joined Edinburgh Northern as a player in August 1975 at the age of 23.
“I’d never played before so as always, they put you on the wing,” said Mr Smith, from Craigleith.
“But I ended up being a scrum half for most of my time there.
“I stopped playing when I got too old to play, and I wanted to referee, so I started a refereeing career there too.
“I ended up refereeing at a higher level than I ever played.”
Mr Smith’s refereeing took him all around Europe, and after a few years in New Zealand he returned to the club in 2006.
Taking a position on the committee, he was made vice president in 2011 and president in 2012 and plans to stay with the club for as long as possible.
He said: “Rugby is a team game which really creates a close-knit feeling between friends.
“You’re on the park in difficult circumstances, sometimes combative, and you stick up for each other, and that carries through.
“Northern is one of the clubs that have kept up that rugby fraternity. The guys who play, back in my day and now, are really good friends with each other. Northern really enhances friendships.
“I enjoy giving back to the club what I feel I owe them for what they’ve given me over my life.
“We exist for the players, and that’s it. I’d love to be a player again, but I don’t think that will happen!”