One of the north-east’s most talented young rugby players has chosen to go back to Aberdeen Grammar – the club that gave him his first chance as a teenager.
Flanker Matthew Emmison, now 23, has steadily been making his way in the sport, although his progress – which has included playing for Super Six side Stirling County – was badly hampered nearly two years ago when he damaged a cruciate ligament in training.
Emmison was first introduced to the game at Ellon Academy, where his potential was spotted by Grammar. He went on to play for the Rubislaw side’s second team before being selected for the Caledonia U18 side at the age of 15.
He said: “I remember having to go to Murrayfield for a strength test just to prove I was up to the rigours of playing with older players.”
In 2015, he moved to Aberdeenshire to play in National League 2, where he teamed up with head coaches Alex Duncan and Kevin Wyness, playing in both the front and back row of the scrum, and scoring some fine tries in both roles with his powerful, surging runs.
On the recommendation of Duncan, he then went to New Zealand for three months, where he was a member of the Crusaders International Academy based in Christchurch.
Emmison said: “It was an amazing experience being involved in the most professional, highly-motivated set-up. It prepared me well for my time at Stirling, where I benefited from the coaching of Eddie Pollock who got the best out of me.”
The free-running flanker was a big hit at Stirling, adding numerous tries with his determination and drive, combined with his radar-like knowledge of where the try line was.
He said: “My injury came at the wrong time, but I have battled back to fitness for over a year, not helped by getting a poor diagnosis early on, but I was delighted when Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor said he would be happy to have me aboard.
“It is a good Premiership set-up, made better by the fact that I know so many of the squad. I have grown in confidence in training and can’t wait to play, though I know there will be competition in the back row, but that’s healthy.”
Among the players best known to him from his days at Ellon and Aberdeenshire is Greig Ryan, a fellow back rower, who said: “Matthew will be a great asset.”