Match Report Tuesday 4th February 2014

ArmyThe Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming is a very special entity that is steeped in Scottish history and culture.  For obvious reasons there has always been a strong link with Edinburgh and despite the changing of the guard for the Scottish Regiments, perhaps an economical decision imposed by the Government, piping and drumming in the Army continues to move with the times.

Of course times change and where once Police Pipe bands were plentiful populated by bandsmen who were policemen and the Army bandsmen were exactly that, who did a bit of soldiering when required, the reverse is now true.

The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming (ASBM&HD) offers courses in piping and drumming at all levels for members of any Regular Regiment in the Army that has pipes and drums.

These are:

  • The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
  • 1st Royal Tank Regiment
  • 1st Battalion Scots Guards
  • 1st Battalion Irish Guards
  • 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment
  • 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles
  • 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles
  • The Queen’s Royal Hussars
  • The Royal Dragoon Guards
  • 19th Regiment Royal Artillery
  • 40th Regiment Royal Artillery
  • The Royal Corps of Signals

Change for the better? You can chew that one over a dram or two but that is the way it is in 2014.

As you will see from The Eagle Pipers ‘History’ web page the link between our Society and the ASBM&HD has always been strong but lets be honest back in the day it was the Army school of piping and while drummers were tolerated their main function in any pipe band was to keep the wind off the Pipe section.

Seconds away round one?

Here is a bit of the history for you,

“The Eagle Pipers originated in Pipe Major George Stoddart’s shop at 328 The Lawnmarket, Edinburgh.

The Lawnmarket is situated close to Edinburgh Castle where the Army had its School of Piping so it was natural for the students to drop in for a chat and a tune on the pipes. They enjoyed these sessions so much that it was decided to meet on a regular basis and a Wednesday evening was chosen. They would finish around 9.30pm with a Piobaireachd when they would adjourn to the Eagle Bar across the road to catch the last 30 minutes of ‘drinking time’ before the bar closed at 10pm. This continued for several weeks before the owner of the Eagle Bar, Tommy Mowat, offered them a backroom in the bar that they gladly accepted.

Gradually the piping evenings expanded until George Stoddart and his friend, Pat Sandeman discussed the possibility of formalising them. Edinburgh was not served well with piping activities compared to Glasgow. There were two main societies in existence, the Royal Scottish Pipers Society and the Highland Pipers.

The Royal Scottish admitted only non-competitive, non-professional players and the Highland Pipers catered for all ages and strengths. It was absolutely right that the children should be encouraged and this society has done sterling work for many, many years but there was space for something in between where top professionals and non-professionals could meet on licensed premises and promote the best in piping whilst enjoying a convivial evening.

When Pipe Major Willie Ross retired from the Piping School at Edinburgh Castle, the Army took over the School of Bagpipe Music and later created the first commissioned piping rank as it was considered the officer-in-charge should have the status afforded to military band directors.

John A. MacLellan was the first to hold the post and George Stoddart and Pat Sandeman put it to him that they had a good idea for a new society. He agreed with them and the Eagle Pipers was founded in the ‘Eagle Bar’ (now the Ensign Ewart) The Lawnmarket, Edinburgh in

The founder members were John A MacLellan, who became the President, George Stoddart as Pipe Major and Fear-an-Tighe, Pat Sandeman and students at the Army School of Piping, Edinburgh Castle. The students included Angus MacDonald, (Scots Guards) later Pipe Major, John Allan (Scots Guards) later Major and Director of Army Bagpipe Music, Joe Wilson (Gordon Highlanders) and Jimmy Henderson (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) who both became pipe majors of their regiments……..”

Angus MacDonaldSo as young boy in Edinburgh there I was chatting or more likely listening to John MacLellan, Colin’s dad, being taught by P/M David Aitken, WO1. BEM- HLI and Royal Highland Fusiliers and generally mixing with, and being in awe of, the great and good that was Army Piping, not least the late great Angus MacDonald.

And then there was George Stoddart’s son Gavin, well I need say no more, but yet another strong link between the Army and The Eagle Pipers’.

Army School of PipingThus it was truly a great pleasure to welcome the incumbent Pipe Major Scott Methven and his troops to the Scots Guards Club last Tuesday.

Now those of us who have played in No1 kit know it is really a pain in the backside in that it is uncomfortable and really not the best for actually playing pipes but there is something about it, especially when worn by Army bandsmen that speaks volumes.  It says in a nutshell this is who we are and what we are about.

The mini band came on with a selection of 6/8s before playing a small medley beginning with The Men from Argyll. The first soloist was Cpl Charlie Watt who is on the Pipe Majors course. A seven month intense exercise that finishes this April. Once the pipe was settled he gave us the MSR P/M Willie Gray’s Farewell to the Glasgow Police, Arniston Castle and The Sound of Sleet. He concluded his spot with the piobaireachd Fields of Gold.

Cpl Charlie MacLean

Cpl Charlie Watt

After the pies the band came back on and started with a lovely arrangement of  The Mist Covered Mountains followed by a selection of jigs. Some traditional Highland Dancing followed as Byron Stirton and Damien Light deftly went thought their steps.

Byron Stirton and Damien Light

Byron Stirton and Damien Light

Next up was L/Cpl Chris MacLean who is also on his Pipe Majors course. Originally from Campbelltown Chris was a pupil of Arthur Gilles and as such spent many an hour in Taynuilt learning the ropes. He gave us the MSR The Taking of Beaumont Hamel, John Roy Stuart and The Rejected Suitor, finishing off with the piobaireachd Clan Campbell’s Gathering.

And that was the evenings evening. Hopefully we will see all the boys back at the Eagles in a more informal setting where they can perhaps go through their tunes for their final exams and practice for the games.

To those already mentioned and P/Sgt. Colin Simpson, Keith Dalton, many thanks for taking the time to come along and entertain us.

Chris Watt

Chris MacLean

Please put the 15th February 2014 in the diary, The Amateur Clasp competition in the Scot’s Guards Club.

Peter McAlister is on the piob at the next meeting and the Hon Pres. is organising a wee Slow Air and Jig competition on Tuesday 4th March.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

PS For any ladies offended by my use of bandsmen, soldiers, and policemen I can only apologise. Be assured that I have attended several Diversity training courses but have yet to pass one however I am still trying. Old school and all that!

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Slow Air/Jig Competition – 4th March

At our meeting on Tuesday 4th March, we will be holding a Slow Air/Jig competition.

Everyone is encouraged to enter regardless of whether you have won the gold medal or just a raffle.

Own choice tunes.  Three prizes – precise details to be confirmed but it will include sterling silver.  World class judges.

Whilst this is a fun contest, pipers are respectfully asked to wear kilts.

Enter on the night.

Douglas Gardiner


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Match Report 21st January 2014

Robert BurnsThe start to 2014 was a rather tame affair. With the Hon Pres. still making his way back from his sojourn to Winterstorm and Jenny away to see the Gorillas (real ones- not Ibrox) it was left to the stalwarts to come out from hibernation.

Two pre pie pipers and two post pie. It was interesting and pleasing to see that not everyone on planet earth is on a detox.

The P/M got the show on the road and with a nod to the Bard and two Burns suppers coming up you can guess the theme of his selection.

“As Tammie glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious, 
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious; 
The piper loud and louder blew; 
The dancers quick and quicker flew; 
They reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit, 
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, 
And coost her duddies to the wark, 
And linket at it in her sark!”

Next to take the floor was Lachie Dick who was trying out a set of pipes that he was considering buying. Much debate was to be had over the night as to the make and value of the set. Suffice to say Lachie went away with a box of swan vesta in his pocket and his cheque book hidden away in the pipe case. Matches

Guinness and pies. No haggis. Sigh.

A young Haggis

A young Haggis

‘Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

Aboon them a’ yet tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye wordy o’a grace

As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,

Your hurdies like a distant hill,

Your pin was help to mend a mill

In time o’need,

While thro’ your pores the dews distil

Like amber bead.’

Donald McLeod was the post pie piper and having played at his annual Burns Supper he was in the kilt and in fine form.

If he doesn't put a cover on the bag ........

If he doesn’t put a cover on that bag ……..

He was followed by Andrew Gray who was once again on a naked pipe. Not a good way to start the year and the dress and deportment marks took a knock. He was however in great form and apparently has not had a seasonal break such was the sound of the pipe and finger dexterity.

‘And that was that and aw that

A few pounds heavier for aw that

The amber bead- there was no need

A small wee crowd of only eight

We can do better- come out the gate.’

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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I am pleased to announce that we will be hosting The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming (ASBM&HD) at Eagles on Tuesday 4th February.

Most of you will be aware of the close association between the Army School and the original founders of the Eagle Pipers’ Society so this will be a particularly special evening.

By the way, our first meeting of 2014 will be on Tuesday 21st January.  A free pie to those of you who, like me, turned up tonight.

Douglas Gardiner

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Match report 10th December 2013

mal4Whilst the Hon. Pipe Major was sunning himself in Malaga (or more likely, due to the time of evening, treating himself to a pint or two of Rioja), the rest of the Eagle Pipers stalwarts held our final gathering of 2013.  A very enjoyable evening was had, with plenty of pipes played, chat exchanged and seasonal cheer shared.

The first piper of the evening was Magnus Orr, of Pipefest fame, delivering his inaugural Eagles performance.  He delivered a fine selection of music including a March, Strathspey and Reel finishing with the classic John Morrison of Assynt House.
Regular attender Craig Martin was up next, also providing some excellent entertainment and ending with a run of cracking jigs including the Cameronian Rant.


The Cheque book

The Hon. President then entertained the crowd with some trivia (to see if someone could displace David Drysdale as reigning trivia champion).  The question:  “Who is the only Gold Medallist to have played in the Silver Medal?”
We were left to ponder this while listening to Nils Michael playing an astonishing array of tunes on his Santa-adorned bagpipe, including (not kidding) Ding Dong Merrily on High and Oh Come All Ye Faithful – both surprisingly very attractive tunes on the pipes. The trivia question had been successfully worked out by Donald MacLeod in the meantime (answer:  John Hanning), and Donald fended off Douglas Gardiner’s attempt to cheat his way in, to claim the prize of a MacLellan chanter reed.

Jingles Bells

Jingles Bells

The pies arrived and, with them, a momentous occasion occurred:  Lachie Dick joined the Society.  Regular readers may wonder at this.  “But how”, you ask, “Lachie goes to the Eagles every time?”  Correct, but somehow he has managed to avoid actually becoming a member, until now.  He was badgered into writing a cheque, putting it in an envelope and addressing it to Iain Speirs, and applying a second class stamp. He was about to be chaperoned to the post box when the Hon. Sec. himself arrived in the nick of time and collected the cheque by hand (stamp to be steamed off for later use).  So that’s Lachie paid up for 2013, and hopefully he’ll soon be proudly sporting his new Eagles tie.  In a couple of weeks time the automatic direct debit will kick in for 2014.  Well done, Lachie.
I had the honour of being the post-pie piper and enjoyed the chance to try out some new tunes.  The evening was rounded off firstly with Roddy Weir playing some very lively and well-executed marches and some jigs that practically ignited the chanter, then the newly minted member Lachie Dick, with some truly excellent playing on a lovely bagpipe.


Match report-done

A perfect finish to the year.

Merry Christmas and all the very best for a prosperous 2014, from the Eagle Pipers Society.  We’ll be back on Tuesday the 21st of January.



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Match Report 26th November 2013

SaltireAs Scotland heads towards perhaps the most important vote in its history and ponder on the contents of the ‘White Paper’ there are, of course, a few things that are of paramount importance.  Most of them go without saying, Education, The National Health Service, The Economy, Currency, Homeland Security, Employment and the like but some would argue that to achieve a balanced life sport and the arts are also key.

With regards sports it’s not easy being Scottish. As a small Nation we find it hard to achieve World status. Our rugby and football struggle to compete at the highest level with no strength and depth in either field. Perhaps the focus on academic achievement has become omnipresent in our education system or have our youth just become more familiar with the games console? A discussion for another day!

You would think then, that when occasion arises, where we can bind and bond together to support a Scottish team in Europe it would be a no brainer. Wrong. Some people-I mention no names here-just don’t get it, or worse they do get it and chose to cheer on the enemy with an eye towards Ladbrokes.  Shame I say and to paraphrase the great Sir Alex Ferguson-Not proud, not proud.

IMG_0595While I am on the sporting theme, hats of to the Irish who somehow managed to lose a brilliant rugby match to the All Blacks. 14 out of 14, you cannot argue with that, but the strange thing is and a question yet to be answered is when next England next face the Kiwis who will I support?  That says it all !Ireland

As I got he evening under way Tam Peterkin of ‘Scotsman’ fame came into the room clutching the above-mentioned ‘white paper’. That promoted a wee chat over the yes or no vote ! What do you think? By the way some people do look like their names. Nicola Sturgeon is one. I smell something fishy.

Next up was Jenny who gave us 15 minutes of magic that included the MSR Kantara to el-Arish, Arniston Castle and The Little Cascade.

Next for shaving was Nils who, at the audiences request, kindly gave us a reprise of The Clucking Hen- fast becoming his signature tune. It was preceded by the Braes of Castle Grant and Maggie Cameron. Nils ended with the ground of Lord MacDonald’s Lament.

Pies were served.

The PPP was Iain Dewar who took a wee bit of cajoling declaring that he was very nervous. Iain started off with The Argylls Crossing the River Po. This was composed by Robert H Brown, who was a regular at the Eagles back in the day. Bob was a prolific composer but this was his number one hit.  Iain played a couple of 6/8s on his fine looking Gillanders and McLeods. Well-done Iain.Iain Dewar

Lachie Dick finished the evening off in grand style playing some lovely wee strathspeys and reels.

images-1Dates for the diary

The final Eagles night of 2013 will be Tuesday 10th December. There will be a festive break and we will resume on Tuesday 21st January 2014.

Sunday 8th     16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club                       Fred Morrison           £10

Sunday 15th   16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club                       Knock out competition

Margaret Dunn v Grieg Wilson.                                                                             £10

January 12th 16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club                       Knock out competition

Sarah Muir v Craig Sutherland

February 16th 16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club          Knock out competition

George Stewart v Angus MacColl Jnr                                                                  £10

The P/M Diary

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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Eagles fly along to meet the Royal Scottish Pipers 15th November 2013


Last Friday saw the resurrection of an old regular piping event as the Eagles flew along to Rose Street Lane South to visit the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society.

Some of the faces may have changed but the format thankfully is as was. A quick welcoming beer, then upstairs to play as a massed band, lead by the new RSPS Pipe Major Andy Cook.

P1030129As the group played a few standard traditional tunes an old friend looked on from the corner. The Eagle that once sat omnipresent in the upstairs bar of the West End Hotel (back in the days when it was harder to get out the hotel than in) looked resplendent and it was somewhat comforting to be once again having a tune under her watchful eye.

After half an hour or so the group withdrew to the comfort of the downstairs bar for a few libations and some solo playing. I started the evening off with a few ¾ Marches while Jenny remained upstairs to prepare for the piobaireachd. Jenny played Too Long in this Condition. On a rock steady bagpipe she produced a beautiful flowing piece of music that got to the very sole of the audienceP1030139

JennyAfter that it was two hours of music, a few beers and a pie. The players were, in no particular order, Peter McAlister, Colin MacLellan, Jimmy Banks, Lachie Dick, Andrew Frater, Bill Fraser, Iain MacDonald and Donald MacLeod. The quality of the playing was outstanding and there were top class instruments on the floor. Without wishing to single anyone out it was nice to hear P/M Jimmy Banks. Jimmy is the Society’s tutor/mentor and he gave us a no nonsense army style selection that included 5 x 2/4 competition marches on the bounce. First class.  A tune at the Eagles if you please P/M?Jimmy Banks

It was also nice to see Andrew Wright who had popped along for a tune with the band. I had not spoken to Andrew for some time and he was in fine form and back to full fitness.

What a great night and our thanks go to the members of the RSPS who were outstanding hosts. The hospitality was top drawer and while the Eagle pie still remains unrivalled a mince pie still does the job.

And that was the evening’s evening-well not quite. As we decanted ourselves into Rose Street a nightcap appeared to be the order of the day.  As we turned the corner looking for an P1030163appropriate watering hole, there, right in front of us, was ‘Dirty Dicks’. As we had the young pristine, clean Lachie Dick with us, it seemed very appropriate. While Lachie was at first a bit resistant and certainly disappointed in his elders ‘schoolboy’ humour, he warmed up announcing to staff that he had been a Dick all his life and asked if there was any student discount on the go. Luckily for Lachie he was in the company of one of Scotland’s finest Detectives who was able to preserve his integrity, ensuring that he did not become a ‘Dirty Dick’. However that said he did, along with others, find himself back at 14 DPC where the bar remained open until 05.15hrs. This time no technical pyrotechnics were on display as a new Mac book was on show gleaming on the breakfast bar.

Dirty DicksAnother memorable night moves into folklore and it has to be said, it was Jolly good.




Euan Anderson

The Eagke

The Eagle

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