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Derek Younger obituary: Former Aberdeen Grammar Rugby chairman, 67

Derek Younger.
Derek Younger.

Members of the North-east sports community are this week mourning the loss of former Aberdeen Grammar Rugby chairman Derek Younger, 67.

Derek, who passed away following a period of illness, is recognised for the creative flair he brought to leading and organisation within the club.

Tributes paid

As part of the club’s tribute Arthur McCulloch, who was also a longtime friend, said: “Derek hailed from Fife, as did I.

“He arrived in Aberdeen in 1984 after a spell in Singapore. However, we first met in 1990 when our sons, Douglas and Murray, played rugby together in the mini section.

“Derek became involved in the section and went on to lead it, reorganise it and create a vibrant outlet for young people in the area.”

No half measures

Described as a ‘visionary for the sport’ whose efforts to bring rugby into the modern era ‘shone like a beacon’ in the 1990s his efforts are still paying dividends to this day.

Born in Kirkcaldy and though an enthusiastic contributor to Aberdonian rugby, Derek passed away in his Edinburgh home.

Derek Younger, pictured centre.

Mr McCulloch, who went on to represent the north-east in the Scottish Rugby Union, has documented his friend’s efforts; a man he says, never did anything by half.

He said: “Derek went on to join the senior committee at Rubislaw in 1994,  becoming an energetic, demanding chairman who insisted on total commitment from his fellow committee members.

“This was at a time when Aberdeen Grammar were languishing in the mediocrity of  local leagues. His enthusiasm and drive were rewarded by supreme efforts from individuals at the club. This included Dave Leighton and the late Brian Clark who bought into his energy.”

Leadership ‘master stroke’

Among his other achievements was successfully attracting a top-level coach to Rubislaw in the form of John Fleming. Getting this 1990s All Black was at the time described as master stroke.

As chairman Derek set about bringing quality players to the club, including a batch of Australians led by top player Rob Seib, and head coach Damian Reidy.

The initiative almost paid off in spades as the team of 2003/04 only just missed out on a Premiership win.

Eye for talent

Derek also liked to embrace local players as well as overseas talent. Derek sought to establish the club’s reputation as the premier club in the area. This included the introduction of Iain Stanger, Keith Oddie, Matt Taylor, Robbie Russell, Alan Hose and Andrew Wilson. Wilson, in fact,  went on to gain a full cap for Scotland.

From the left is Alan Laing, Grammar’s president Charley Ritchie, Derek Younger and Douglas Watson.

Another upshot was a new surge of Aberdeen University students keen to sign up under a renewed image of rugby in the area.

Family man

Off the rugby field Derek was a dedicated, successful businessman who worked with Shell.

Most of all Derek was a devoted family man.

Derek leaves behind his loving wife Isabel, his daughters Julie and Jennifer, and his son Douglas. And he was also a proud grandfather to Violet, Charlotte and Lucas.

His funeral is at 2pm on Monday June 20 at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh.

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