Pride & Passion with P&P: Bruce Aitchison
Get to know the club’s stadium announcer, hospitality host and ‘weel kent face’ Bruce Aitchison! Pride and Passion is brought to you by Main Club Sponsor, Principal & Prosper.
Tell us about yourself and how you got involved in rugby from a young age?
I'm married to Nichola and dad to Maisie (11, going on 17), Katy (9, going on 21) and Maggy (the dog).
I'm a teacher at Merchiston Castle School, I run Happiness is Egg Shaped and have started a podcast. I LOVE being at BT Murrayfield. I also loved football first, and always dreaming of playing for Hibs.
At Stow Primary School, the Head Teacher, Mr Jones, organised tickets to Murrayfield for international matches for P6 & 7, sitting in the schoolboy enclosure. It was amazing the be at a packed Murrayfield, I was there when Tony Stanger scored in 1990!
When I went Galashiels Academy in 1991, I was immersed in rugby, led by the PE coach Rob Moffat (who went on to coach Edinburgh), Bill Noble and Davie Wright.
I loved it all, the training, the games, the away trips, a tour to Canada and then I played for the Scottish Schoolboys. I was hooked. My two older brothers played and most of my mates, it became my social circle. [Photo credit: John Williamson]
You've been involved with the club for a number of seasons now – how did you get involved as the club's stadium announcer and then hospitality host?
I've gone to Edinburgh games on and off for years. As a student in the late 90s, with my wife, as a dad, with mates and always enjoyed catching up with people at the games.
This is my third season with the club. I had stopped coaching in the club game due to work. I spoke to then-Managing Director Johnny Petrie about getting involved, neither of us had a clear plan!
I started as the in-game announcer, I loved it and in the first season I got used to Edinburgh winning and the crowds growing. Then, I started to do more and loved interviewing the mascots and players.
Then I did pre and post match interviews in the clubhouse and loved it. I'm a supporter with a mic! When the club started hospitality, I was asked to host it. I had been hosting for Scotland games previously and I jumped at the chance, it’s been great.
Announcing to an empty stadium is weird, but I am very lucky to be there. Although it annoys Dougie Vipond… I felt very honoured to announce Dan Gamble and Matt Currie for their debuts this season.
What have been some of your favourite on-field and off-field moments while working with the club?
I love the buzz of match day. I'm allowed in to the stadium early and I love a wander around, chatting to the staff, players, coaches, journalists, TV folk, security team... anyone who can't get away from me!
That's why I love it so much, the people. Then the supporters arrive and you know who'll be there and where they'll be. Richard is always at the tunnel for a handshake, hug and chat.
I was honoured to be there for Fordy's last game, although we didn't get the result on the night, the Glasgow games have been exciting and the big European games create a buzz. Announcing Darcy scoring is always a dream and 'Big Bill Mata!' My kids love to impersonate be saying W.P Nel!
In the clubhouse, I love chatting to the players and seeing the reaction of the supporters is amazing. When the packed hospitality suite of Edinburgh and Wasps fans (including the Wasps CEO) sang the 12 days of Christmas I thought I was in heaven!
You seem to have a great relationship with players, what have been some of your favourite interactions with the squad during your time with Edinburgh?
I'm no threat to the players, they know I'm on their side, I don’t have medals or caps to intimidate them with and I'm not trying to stitch them up.
I try to get to know them and like to ask them things outwith the normal routine. So far, they seem to like it. I've known some of them for years!
Pierre is always funny, after beating Scarlets I asked him about an altercation with the opposing front row after Edinburgh winning a penalty at the scrum.
He replied: 'I just said I'll see you at church on Sunday!' The whole place erupted! Chatting to Cockers is scary but wonderful. He's a pussycat really...
You also seem to have a great relationship with the club's fan base. How have you enjoyed that relationship with the Edinburgh Rugby Fans Group, and have you felt their supporting during a pretty tough 12 month period?
I am a fan, I just get a mic on matchdays. I hope I am representative of them, I ask the questions they want to ask, I'm sad when they are sad and I like to share the happiness when things are good.
The Edinburgh Rugby fans are immense, the work they have got through during this time is unreal and I know the players, staff and club appreciate it.
Nicola Garforth and her team have been relentless in their support and they uphold really high standards of respect, I love that. They have been encouraging and supportive of me and don't seem bored of my nonsense. Yet… [Photo credit: John Williamson]
What has been your proudest moment as an Edinburgh Rugby supporter and while working with the club?
I'm proud to be part of something that makes people happy. I pinch myself when people tell stories about their kids impersonating me or when people message me during a game to say they love the Big Bill shout.
I love when Doug [Struth] and Stu [Rutherford] give me a call or ask for my ideas. I have been blown away by the activities we have done through lockdown that have brought people together.
I'm a cheerleader, I’ts nice when people join in. When I meet people and they identify me with the club or a moment they've had, its special.
What are you most looking forward to about moving into our new home and how special will that first game be for all supporters connected to the club?
I want to see people! I want everyone together, I want to hear the buzz, I want to announce, I want to see the team play and then share the memories after. I've had a look and it is awesome. The future is very, very bright.
You're a guy who always remains positive and rugby clearly plays a big part in your life. What would be your advice to anyone looking to get in to rugby, or looking to support Edinburgh Rugby?
Get involved, you'll be made to feel welcome, you'll feel part of something and very quickly, you'll wonder what you did without it. See you at BT Murrayfield!