The final countdown……

A week to go and time for a pre ride round up. As I get ready to put away the desert boots and settle in to a pair of Specialized road shoes as my footwear of choice Paul Wellers proclamation of “Direction, Reaction, Creation” seems to capture where things are at…….

Some exciting contact through Raith Rovers put me in touch with Ali Gibson from the Armed Forces TV station who explained that a documentary on the Battalion has developed in some part thanks to discussion she had with Major Tait who has been a challenge ambassador for me. So some of the training has been filmed and a time is set for the camera to capture my departure from Starks Park. The documentary will contain pieces from clubs with connections to the Battalion including time with our own manager who was delighted to be invited to speak about a subject he holds dear to his heart.

Sponsorship is currently just creeping over £1600 and given this was an area where we had no set aspirations I am pleased that so many people have been so generous. It is truly a special thing to see the names of friends, family, colleagues and names of people not yet in my contacts list get behind my efforts. McCraes Battalion Trust wholeheartedly thank you for your kindness.

imageKit- it’s here and it’s awesome, I wouldn’t have got a gig as a catalogue model but this sharp outfit is set to show up any pro-peloton threads as unimaginative and frankly dull!
Adding on to the kit theme my main bike is now the proud owner of a new headset cap provided by If I have even a moments doubt I simply need to look down and see the message RemembeR staring back at me.



imageSelling the jerseys- Amongst many kind actions I wish to thank John Greer (Raith Rovers former players association) who has taken a huge amount of time to secure some signed tops from the senior clubs who had players commit to the Battalion. On my return watch out for an online auction including: A Hearts top signed by the team that took them back to Europe, An away Hibs top signed by the cup winning team, A Falkirk top signed by their play off team and with the help of our own Kitman and Rovers fanatic Simon Pollock the Rovers team that gave us such a great season have signed a RemembeR top. Particular thanks to those who helped John out; Brian McLauchlin, Peter Houston, Liam Fox, Lewis Stevenson and Tom Phillips. I know 2 of our ex players are diligently working to fill in the gaps in the teams represented so an update may be needed as teams get back to business in the coming weeks.

The route is now set and again simple kindness has saw key people, share the product of their labours freely. So thanks to the London-Edinburgh-London audax for the use of their route and associated garmin direction files. The big battlefield ride have been free with their mapping of a route from Dieppe to Amiens and I enter France with some confidence. Though distant roads create challenge I have actually never cycled in Edinburgh and I am indebted to my good friend Alex for his company on my first day. As the senior groundsman at Murrayfield his presence adds a rugby connection which is again fitting given McCraes had internationalists amongst their ranks. I also wait on news of a possible meet with Leyton Orient supporters who may be able to ride with me accross London. With such as shared history in elation to their own players sacrifice at the Somme I would love to make that connection.

The final update is that we seem to be set for entry in to Comtalmaison through a ring of steel thrown up for security reasons. The kindness and sense of inclusion which has characterised the actions of Jack Alexander and John Dalgleish has been of great reassurance to us in our preparations.


McCrae’s Battalion (resources)

Primarily taken from the Battalion website please take time to look through this range of resources which demonstrates the wide reaching nature of the Battalion’s legacy.

They called them – Scotland’s ‘Sporting Battalion’ and the first of the so-called ‘Footballers’ battalions. But most folk knew them simply as ‘McCrae’s’.

McCraes Battalion Trust


McCrae’s Battalion – Jack Alexander

Raised in Edinburgh shortly after the start of the Great War, it was perhaps the finest unit in Lord Kitchener’s volunteer army – a brotherhood of sportsmen, bound together by their extraordinary colonel and their loyalty to a quaintly named Association Football club, the famous Gorgie ‘Hearts’. McCrae’s were blooded in the Battle of the Somme, losing three-quarters of their strength on the first day alone. The Colonel himself was invalided home. In time the battalion recovered. It came of age at Arras, endured the muddy horror of Passchendaele, and held the line unbroken in the face of furious German attacks on the Lys in 1918. For almost a century their story remained untold. It was all but lost forever. Now, after 12 years of exacting historical detective work, Jack Alexander has reclaimed the 16th Royal Scots for posterity. In this stirring book he draws upon interviews with veterans and a unique archive of letters, diaries and photographs, assembled from the families of more than 1,000 of Sir George McCrae’s men.

Buy the book

Footballers United is a unique interactive online drama – a narrative with an accompanying archive of images, text and video – set in Edinburgh and revolving around two young men and two young women as they cope with their new reality.

Jack and Gib enlist and become part of the McCrae’s – so-called because of its founder, Sir George McCrae, an Aberdonian raised in the slums of Edinburgh, a bootmaker’s message boy who left school at nine but who rose to prominence in later life and became the nation’s most powerful civil servant.

Footballers United

The supreme sacrifice

BBC’s The Supreme Sacrifice: Documentary on how the Hearts team became ‘C’ Company of the 16th Battalion of The Royal Scots in WW I