Today, of course, Dunblane has a great sporting hall of fame. One immediately thinks of Andy and Jamie Murray, who have brought considerable prestige to the town, but there are many other sporting giants among us. To name just a few: Fiona Brown and Frankie Brown could be part of the Scotland women’s football squad at the World Cup this summer; Louise Martin (made a Dame in the recent honours list) is president of the Commonwealth Games Federation; Elaine Hopley rowed across the Atlantic in record time; world class athlete Andy Butchart; Callum Davidson, now coaching, played for Scotland at football, having also represented Scotland at golf and tennis as a boy; Grant McPherson was an ice hockey ace. I could easily add to that list.
Yet there was a time when sport was even more of an integral part of life here.
Dunblane offered an extraordinary range of sporting opportunities in the 19th century. Despite the town population being less than a third of what it is now, there were clubs for curling, bowling, football, golf, cricket, quoiting, cycling and angling. There were annual sports meetings each summer, shooting competitions for the Volunteers, and Dunblane Hydro boasted a tennis court and a croquet lawn.
Click here to download a pdf of my talk about those sporting activities, as I attempt to explain why Dunblane had such a vibrant athletic culture, and reveal that some of our Victorian sporting heritage is still with us, even though you may not have noticed it.