Recreational and Sports amenities in Edinburgh
Edinburgh cannot really compete with Glasgow in terms of its sporting prowess. However, the city has professional football and rugby clubs alongside Ice Hockey and basketball ones; as well as excellent local amenities for its residents. Edinburgh City Council is very keen to promote sport and recreational activities and provides a full range of leisure facilities for its citizens.
Edinburgh has two professional football teams, both of which currently play in the Scottish premier Division - the top flight of Scottish football. Heart of Midlothian FC have played at their Tynecastle ground and stadium, to the west of the city centre, since 1886. The football club was originally the Heart of Midlothian Dance Club, which was formed in 1817. The first record of a Heart of Midlothian Football Club is dated around 1874, after some members of the dancing club had watched an exhibition match of ‘Association Football’. Whilst ‘Hearts’ have always been one of the top clubs in Scottish football, success for them in the league competitions has been rare. The last time they won the Scottish League Championship was 1960. They have, however, played in the Scottish FA Cup on 13 occasions, winning it 7 times - the last of which was in 2006. Hibernian FC are their great rivals. Hibernian FC was formed, unsurprisingly, by Irish settlers in the Cowgate area Edinburgh in 1875 and is strongly associated with the nearby St Patrick’s Church. The club now plays at the Easter Road Stadium in the north east of the city. Despite being one of the more consistent Scottish football clubs in being able to retain a place in the top Scottish division, successes for the club are even rarer than for ‘Hearts’. Hibernian last won the league championship in 1952 and the Scottish FA Cup back in 1902!
The top Rugby Union club in Edinburgh is Edinburgh Rugby, who play in the Celtic League - with other top class Scottish, Welsh and Irish clubs. The club uses the Castle Ground at the Murrayfield Stadium, to the west of the city centre. However, if you fancy watching some rugby closer to the city centre, just a ten minute walk away from Princes Street is the Raeburn Place ground of Edinburgh Academical FC. The founding member of the Scottish Rugby Union, the club was formed in 1857 - as such it is the second oldest rugby club in the world. However, it is actually thought that 1851 was the first occasion that rugby was played at the Edinburgh Academy, from which the club gets its name. The 1st team currently plays in the Scottish Premiership Division I. Murrayfield Stadium is, of course, the national rugby stadium for Scotland. Originally opened in 1925, it is the stadium that holds the record attendance for a Rugby Union match in Britain, when 104,000 spectators saw Scotland play Wales in 1975. In 1995 it had a major refurbishment and is now an all-seater stadium with a capacity of 67,800 and is used for a variety of sporting and leisure events.
Next to the rugby stadium is the Murrayfield Ice Rink, which as well as having an Olympic sized ice rink is the largest seated indoor arena stadium in Scotland with 3500 seats. Although the building was completed in 1939 it didn’t really start to function as an ice-rink until 1952. The venue is now used for a variety of indoor sports as well as ice dancing and speed skating; these include wrestling, ice speedway and even dance competitions. However, the stadium is probably best known these days as the home of the city’s major Ice Hockey club. Edinburgh Capitals are the senior Ice Hockey team based at Murrayfield and are currently in the UK Elite League - the top flight of UK Ice Hockey.
There is absolutely no shortage of golf courses in and around Edinburgh. However, the cream of the courses in this area has to be Muirfield - one of the courses used for the Open Championship. The ‘Open’ has been held here 15 times with the most recent one being in 2002, when Ernie Els won after a four way play-off. The golf course is at Gullane on the road to North Berwick. Also, not far away from Edinburgh, at Dunbar is some of the best surfing in Scotland. Of course no Scottish city can be without a ‘snow’ sports centre. Boasting the longest artificial ski-slope in Britain; the Midlothian Snow Sports Centre is actually owned and operated by the Midlothian Council and is just outside the city boundary off the A702 at Hillend. The centre specialises in skiing and snow-boarding lessons and development.
Edinburgh Leisure is the city council department providing recreational and sports amenities to the local citizens. Facilities available in Edinburgh include the Meadowbank Sports Centre with its indoor and outdoor facilities, many of which were built and refurbished for the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games, which were held in the city - as were the Olympic size swimming and diving pools at the nearby Royal Commonwealth Pool. Outdoor facilities at Meadowbank include a 250m velodrome and a 7000 seat athletics stadium.