Our final 1XV interview comes from Club Captain for 2019/20, Michael Maltman.
It was the first time Musselburgh were playing top flight rugby in 33 years, did you feel any pressure to make an impact and what were your expectations for the season?
"It was uncharted territory for the vast majority of the boys in the club now to be playing in Prem 1. Our main expectation as a squad was to stay in Prem 1 which I think had the season finished, we would have remained comfortably safe in the position we finished in."
Why did you offer to be captain for the season?
"I felt that Musselburgh has always been my grass roots rugby club, from midi's, colts and into senior rugby. I always wanted to give back to club and felt that through captaincy, I would be able to contribute to those around me and help encourage other players and younger prospects to raise standards. I think we as a squad have achieved this. Plus someone has to control Ape and Chimp..."
Looking back to the first game of the season against Glasgow Hawks in the Scottish Cup, how confident were you of a win and getting the season off to the right start?
"I was confident, there was a good buzz about the squad and eagerness to get the season started off in a winning way. The games that followed were tough, we basically played top of Prem teams in quick succession and I almost felt on reflection some of those games were reminiscent of a rabbit in headlights at times. However we greatly improved the second half of the season against the majority of those teams and secured vital points against them."
The first half of the season had some ups and downs, where do you think the turning point was in the season?
"Turning point for me was Hawick away at Mansfield. It is a very difficult place to go in the depths of winter in poor conditions. Pitch is mudfest (however ours was probably worse at the end of the season!). It was hard carrying rugby with occasionally handbags and we managed to secure a losing bonus point, albeit a final kick of the game away from winning it. The way it goes sometimes, but I definitely think our collective mindset changed that game and boys realised we could compete against the bigger clubs."
What was your favourite game this season and why?
"GHA away has to take it. Another miserable day for rugby and probably too for the travelling support with rain, hail wind and snow all within 80 minutes on an exposed 4g. I felt our defence was solid and there was a real hunger for boys to put in big shots. The post games beers were well deserved and a few tops aff in the clubs after. A good Saturday spent."
Did you have any other favourite moments off the pitch this season?
"The whole social dynamic of the club has been great. Everyone having a good time and Blair occasionally supplying a black sambucca to the young team (those in their early 20s compared to us old heads). You play rugby for the enjoyment, friendship, pints and singing which is not as common as you would think in rugby clubs nowadays. A notable mention must also go to Tam (Tom Foley) for scoring a hat trick for super 2s in their last game against Boroughmuir, resulting in 20 sheets from Farmy for his troubles. They say he can't stop and won't stop..."
The outbreak of COVID-19 unfortunately caused the season to be null and void. What were your initial feelings after hearing this decision?
"It is what it is. People are dying and suffering worldwide as a result of COVID-19, so null and voiding a season is minimal in the grander scheme of things. Social distancing is the required action to combat the spread of COVID. We are still a premiership club and as long as everyone has their good health the rugby will take care of itself."
Knowing we will be definitely playing Premiership rugby again next year, what are your expectations for next season and what do you think will be different?
"We know we can play and compete against the top table teams and put in good performances during the business end of the season, now we need to do it consistently for the whole season. At the end of the day it is a mindset and willingness to put your body on the line. I am stepping back from captaincy due to family commitments. Chimp (Danny Owenson) will be steering the ship as captain next season with Rory Watt and I staying on as Vices. Most of the coaching staff is remaining the same with a surprise old head returning... 😉. Now we build on from the squad that finished last season and cement our place as East Lothians Premiership Club. Moan the Burgh."