Remembering Andy Grinly and Supporting Injured Rugby Players with Hearts and Balls.

Andy Grinly’s passion for rugby spanned decades. A natural athlete, Andy began playing at Alloa Academy under the tutelage of John Pryde in the early 1960s. Leaving Clackmannanshire to study, he played with Edinburgh University before returning to Hillfoots RFC in Tillicoultry in 1972. His commitment to the sport was unwavering, playing competitively until the remarkable age of 56. A match was organised to commemorate his retiral – many old heads dug out their boots take part and Andy was joined on the pitch by his three sons and nephew.

As a respected Club Captain of Hillfoots RFC in 1990, Andy was considered a seasoned and revered “rugby tourist” within the club and within the wider rugby community in Clackmannanshire. As twilight fell upon his 1st and 2nd XV appearances, Andy was instrumental in forming the Hillfoots Cast Tups. The Cast Tups is a social team built upon the foundations of rugby camaraderie, sportsmanship, and enjoyment of the game. Fun was prioritised over winning and in moments of defeat, he uplifted his teammates with his trademark optimism; “Chin up lads, it’s better than being in Tesco.” Andy’s indomitable spirit leaves an enduring legacy within the rugby community.

Andy sadly passed away in 2021. During his final days in hospital, amidst the challenges of the pandemic, technology bridged the gap for Andy’s family who live across the globe. Daily video calls provided precious moments of connection, thanks to the generosity of the hospital’s intensive care staff offering the use of iPads to facilitate the calls. Inspired by this experience, the family sought to extend this support to others facing similar circumstances. A JustGiving page was set up and a generous fund was raised from Andy’s friends, family, work colleagues and formal pupils.

The family’s initial hope was to support and formalise the provision of facilitated technical communication for hospital patients. This proved more complicated than anticipated. Various alternative options were explored and eventually the family discovered “Hearts and Balls,” a vital, Scottish charity dedicated to supporting injured rugby players. Through rehabilitation programs, financial aid, and advocacy efforts, they provide essential assistance to players facing physical and emotional challenges.

In tribute to Andy’s legacy, his family is honoured to donate over £4,500 to Hearts and Balls, knowing that this support will positively impact injured players and their families and empower them continue their rugby journey with dignity and support.