If the descendants of those who put the ‘Royal’ into Deeside can celebrate jubilees, then so can the folk who introduced orienteering to Royal Deeside. Thus, some 60 Maroc members of all ages gathered in a local hostelry after running the Old Deeside Railway Line, to celebrate and partake of the 25th birthday cake, cut in fine fashion by the current Club President and the youngest member present, ie Julie Hall holding 4 week old Matthew Gooch.
Maroc was very much a fledging club as the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977. Having already had a hand in establishing neighbouring club, Grampian, the young PE teacher at Aboyne Academy, Donald Wallace (now Solway), gathered about him some unsuspecting colleagues and pupils, and so Maroc was born. For a while, it was ‘almost’ a school club though never so in name, but Donald soon had plans for the 6-Day in 1983 on Deeside, and the club prospered rapidly. Now 25 years on, the membership, though mostly resident in the Dee Valley, also hail from Donside to the north and Kincardineshire to the south.
Mapping got under way quickly with senior school pupils surveying the first editions of Coull and Glen Tanar, while other areas, still well-loved, appeared a couple of years later. Being blessed with much excellent O terrain, Maroc has been able to establish a good portfolio of O maps, now all produced professionally. A major push to provide small areas for small informal events brought 9 new maps on stream in 1996, though very quickly 2 of these were lost by changes in ownership and felling badly marred others. In 2002, after a quiet spell in mapping, things have moved forward again, and a new venue, Corsedarder, was first used for a colour coded event in November.
On the competition side, Maroc has always had a strong, successful junior section. The first major junior success came when the Club was only 3 years old, when the M17 JK relay team of Graham Guy (now Invoc), Douglas Guy (now Gramp) and Jamie Harvie scooped the top spot. Since then many Scottish, Scottish Schools, British, and JK trophies have found their way north, and Maroc has always had a good representation in the Scottish Junior Squad – recently a quarter of Scotjos members were from Maroc. The all-time top achievement among the seniors must be the 1993 relay Silver medal for Jon Musgrave at the World Championships. Juniors, seniors and veterans have consistently been called on to represent Scotland at the Home Internationals.
For local sports people, the Club has always tried to provide the usual range of events, plus a few innovations of its own – Night Events, a Long O (up to 24km), Cycle Os and a Cycle/Run Biathlon in 1988, the Christmas ‘Pudding Shaker’, the Railway Relay, the Blackhall 10k. A really big effort was made for NOW week with 3 events in 7 days, to try to turn-around a slight drop in membership and participation levels, and the main push in the coming season will be to provide local orienteering for local sport lovers, attracting and keeping newcomers to orienteering. But the “Big One” is coming to Deeside for a third time – in 2005 Maroc and Gramp will again be responsible for central organisation of the 6-Day.
Over 25 years Maroc has not only contributed to sport on Deeside – the Club’s input has been recognised several times by the District Sports Council - but has played quite a role in the management and promotion of orienteering in Scotland. The Club has provided SOA presidents, SOA Executive committee members, co-ordinators of the Scottish Junior Squad, coaches, Co-ordinators of 6-Day events, and Directors of the 6-Day Company. There have also been liaisons with local schools, and in the spring a third Permanent Course facility will open, this time at Braemar where a partnership has been formed with a Charity providing activities for the less able.
Before closing this brief story of Maroc, this ageing member who has been with the Club for 24 of its 25 years, must be allowed some reminiscences, which may also jog other memories - the overnight coach trip to represent Scotland in the Compass Sport Cup Final at Cannock Chase, in total almost 24 hours travelling, and we didn’t win!; the first ever badge event (1982) when a specially constructed bridge was rendered unusable because of torrential overnight rain; the sight of the 6-Day campsites at Ballater (1983) and near Aboyne (1993) ; frequent map-bagging sessions courtesy of a local butcher who let us use his heat-sealer; competitor dehydration on a blazing hot afternoon at the first ever Long-O; the Maroc Junior Squad tour by ferry and mini-bus to Sweden and again by mini-bus to Wales; the 1982 Scottish Relays in a spring snow storm at Inver; the sound of the Maroc horn encouraging runners to the Finish at competitions; the yellow banner with its royal blue capercaillie atop its mighty pole in event assembly fields; the World Student Championships at Sluie and Glen Tanar in 1992. And there are many more.
Now, Maroc looks forward with optimism to the next Jubilee and a cake with 50 candles.
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