I mentioned in a previous blog that my uncle, Marshall Mills, captained Penicuik Athletic in 1966. So my first ‘big’ match was the semi-final of the Scottish Junior Cup at Tynecastle in April 1966 which the Cuikie lost 1-0. The opposition? Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, who went on to win the cup at Hampden, beating Whitburn 6-1 after a replay. It’s reported that about 10000 saw the replay after 19430 attended the first game. Duncan Henderson was a good pal of my uncle and scored in the 1-1 draw.

Bonnyrigg also won the Cup in 1978, beating Stonehouse Violet 1-0 at Hampden, in a match shown live on TV.

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Bonnyrigg v Bo’Ness 1991

My first memory of a game at New Dundas Park is from around 1968. The Rose beat Arniston Rangers, possibly 7-2, and I remember us silly wee laddies laughing at Dod Henry the Rose striker, who was somewhat rotund, but still scored 3 or 4 times.

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Bonnyrigg v Dunipace, November 2005. The old pie hut is on the right

Later in life I moved to Poltonhall and became acquainted with Andy Kelly, a Rose legend who had played in the  1966 team, and managed the 1978 one. Friday nights at Lasswade Rugby Club, we drank till about 1am and played a dominoes tournament for a steak pie. Andy was very competitive and was forever winding up our table, mainly of guys who lived in the Wimpey estate. Andy never moderated his language, even in mixed company. ‘Get your hands in your f***** pockets you Spam Valley C**ts’ was a favourite cry of The Kell, who passed away several years ago and has a street in Bonnyrigg named after him.

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The Kell with Cup and Rab Devlin in 1978
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Bonnyrigg v Auchinleck 2012: the pie hut is gone…
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Scenes as David Burrell celebrates a late equaliser v Auchinleck

The Rose certainly existed as early as 1883 but they could have been formed a few years before. The records show that Hearts opened their new ground in 1888 (and lost 3-2) but surely this wasn’t New Dundas Park, so where was Old Dundas Park?

They won the old East Region a few times, but since the East Superleague came along in 2002 they have been champions twice, in 2008-9 and 2011-12. They look strong favourites to win it again this season. Bonnyrigg have never been relegated in recent times and have played at the top level since around 1984. A bit of history

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Bonnyrigg v Pollok 2016

In November 2008 Rose were at a low ebb after vandals set fire to their wooden pavilion, which had to be demolished. This building housed the pie hut and committee room and a lot of the club’s memorabilia was lost. Ambitious Chairman Charlie Kirkwood has pushed on with plans to take the club forward and modernise the ground.

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Jock Landells with the League Cup, October 2000

Charlie used to clean my windows back in the day. So one Saturday all the football was off and I ended up at Lasswade Rugby Club along with camera, monopod, etc.

I bumped into Charlie and he asked me if this was how I spent my Saturdays, taking photies at the rugby. “No, I’m a fitba man Charlie, but it’s all off because of the weather today”.

“Oh, who do you normally watch, The Rose?”

“No I watch Whitehill because they’re far more welcoming, the Rose are a bunch of queer c**ts!”

“Oh, I’m the chairman of the Rose now” he said. I suppose I should have noticed his beanie hat…

(Disclamer – I’ve watched the Rose loads of times and there’s nowt queer about them)

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Victoria Park (and Arthur’s Seat!) 1991

Newtongrange Star, or Nitten as everybody calls them, have always been the big local rivals to The Rose. Indeed in my younger days I had to wait a long time to see the Rose beat them as they were very strong at the time. They also had what nobody else had – a stand. Victoria Park was used for speedway and Edinburgh Monarchs were based there for a short spell. In latter days it hosted stock cars. More information about Victoria Park. Video of closing ceremony

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In 1994 The Star left Victoria Park which became a housing development, and moved into their new home on the site of the Redwood Bing. It’s definitely one of the better Junior set-ups in the East and has floodlights and a quality grass surface, which has been used by Hearts U20 teams etc. You’re always conscious that there’s a good community spirit in Nitten by the Bing as it’s much smaller than Bonnyrigg, with a population of about 6000 against 15677 (2011 census) . The football team seems to be at the heart of the village but they also have the Scottish Mining Museum, the Dean Tavern (a Gothenburg), Black Diamond FM and Newtongrange Silver Band, as well as a new railway station on the Borders Line.

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Nitten v Cumnock 2001

The present Nitten manager, since 2011, is former captain Alan (Windy) Miller. He also played for Bonnyrigg and managed them to a Superleague title in 2008-9. Nitten have never won the East Superleague since it was formed in 2002 and have yo-yo’d a bit between leagues, but are now in their third season in the Superleague having been promoted in 2013. Fans of The Rose are fond of reminding them that their only Junior Cup win was in 1929-30…

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Friendly v Auchinleck, July 2015

Finally, a few famous players have graced the Nitten jersey, including Bobby Johnstone, Freddie Glidden, Willie Bauld, Dave Mackay, Alex Young, and more recently ICT manager John Hughes. Bonnyrigg can boast (of course) Sean Connery, Pat Stanton, Ally Brazil, Craig Paterson and John White.

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