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Hills on a steady climb as Hughenden enters new phase in its history

For many years, Hughenden and Scottish rugby's finest performers went together like Bill McLaren and a microphone.

Glasgow beat the Tongans there, almost gained the upper hand over the All Blacks, and the stadium became synonymous with sporting drama, drams and Donnybrooks. Then, amid the professional side's move to Firhill – and now Scotstoun – the Hillhead-Jordanhill club members had to decide on how best to prepare for a future where they wouldn't simply survive, but thrive and flourish.

The process hasn't been straightforward – the RBS National League side's coach, Derek Busby, was masterfully understated in describing the process of redeveloping the stadium and facilities as "two years of hassle" – but gradually, it is evident that the "Hills" are alive to the prospect of returning to the sport's highest echelon in the next few seasons.

Their first XV are fourth in the league, their seconds are top of their division, their thirds (or 2As) have served notice of their potential and their women's team, coached by Fiona Reardon, and such willing lieutenants as Caine McIntyre, Douglas Grove, Lindsey Smith and Amanda Moore, have collected 34 from 35 points in seven fixtures, and are favourites to win their competition. All of which underpins the scale of the resurgence which has occurred at this organisation, both on and off the pitch.

"It has been a good season, but perhaps it's a sign of how things are changing that I feel we should be third, not fourth, in the championship, because we have lost two matches that we should have won and there is a real buzz about the club," said Busby, whose charges were denied the opportunity to grapple with Hawick, due to the cold snap with struck Scotland at the weekend. "This is a tough event, and there isn't that much between many of the clubs: [leaders] Watsonians are, by far, the best in the league, while Glasgow Hawks and Hawick are very similar and evenly-matched. But I don't think any of them are unbeatable and we have produced some good performances and decent results and there is a genuine sense that something exciting is happening at this place."

The next month's action could define the extent of that progress with Hillhead-Jordanhill scheduled to tackle Premiership frontrunners, Ayr, on Saturday, as the prelude to travelling to Ardrossan Academicals, before confronting Selkirk, GHA and Watsonians, the latter once the festive period has concluded. It is a gruelling itinerary – and Busby has doubts as to whether some of these tussles will even happen, given the vagaries of the climate – yet, in the longer term, his aspirations are clear. The new Hughenden will boast some first-class amenities and the coach wants a team to match their environs.

"I am glad we have the chance to meet Ayr again, because we gave a good account of ourselves down there [at Millbrae] last month and we were leading [8-7] going into the last 15 minutes [before eventually succumbing 19-8], so it showed what we can do against opponents of their pedigree," said Busby, who has been bolstered by the recruitment of former Ayr stars, including Ryan Holland and AJ MacFarlane.

"The best way to improve is to keep setting yourself new goals and, although I do not expect [Ayr coaches] Kenny [Murray] and Peter [Laverie] to show us any disrespect at the weekend, we will be aiming to put them under as much pressure as possible. We have had problems in recent times. But things are definitely going in the right direction."

Some of his campaigners can scarcely be described as Busby's Babes. But, with Hills climbing upwards and Reardon's personnel seeking their eighth consecutive victory against Cartha QP, life is growing sweeter around Hughenden again.

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