In June 1893 Mr. Henry Fife Morland Simpson was appointed Rector of Aberdeen Grammar School, and took up his duties on 14th August. The date is significant when it is realised that in less than a month after his arrival in the School he had arranged the formation of a Former Pupils’ Club. The Club is something which we today take for granted; it was undoubtedly the brain-child of the new Rector, and the speed with which it was brought into being tells us much about the dynamic personality of the man who was to be Rector of the School for more than a quarter of a century until 1920. The reasoning behind the formation of the Club is best explained by quoting the report of a speech which the new Rector made at a concert held around that time in connection with the new Club:
“All the great schools of England” he said, “have their Clubs of ‘Old Boys’. Few, if any, of these schools have a record so ancient as the Grammar School of Aberdeen. None of them come within a century of being of equal age – Eton, Harrow, and even Winchester being, in comparison, schools of yesterday. It is a matter of regret that the School which is so much the pride of their City should have been so long without a Club such as that which has now been started, to draw the members together from time to time for social purposes and for the pleasure of meeting old schoolfellows again. Many of the pupils who have gone forth into the world and distinguished themselves were proud to call themselves ‘Old Boys’ of the Aberdeen Grammar School. It seemed desirable that the opportunity should be seized and a Club formed, not merely for athletic purposes, but in order to combine all interests – social, athletic, and the like, and so tend to bind together the past and present pupils of the School.”
The Club was founded at a meeting held at the School on 11th September 1893, and the minute of that meeting makes interesting reading:
“In the senior classroom of the Grammar School, Aberdeen, a conference of Old Boys with Mr. Morland Simpson, Rector of the School, was held on the evening of Monday, 11th September 1893.
“Mr. Simpson took the chair at 8pm, and in a very interesting, suggestive, and rousing address pointed out the advantages which might be gained from an Old Boys’ Club.
“A motion for the formation of an Old Boys’ Club was then proposed and seconded and unanimously carried.
“It was thereafter unanimously resolved that arrangements should be at once made for organising an Old Boys’ Football Club.
“With a view to the carrying out of these motions it was agreed that an Executive be appointed to arrange the general business of the Club – this body to consist of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, three members now attending the University, three members not at the University, and three senior present boys – and that a Committee be appointed to control the affairs of the Football Club. It was decided that the question of the appointment of Honorary Office-bearers should be left in the hands of the Executive.
[There then follows a list of the first Office-bearers and Committee; Mr. Morland Simpson was elected as the first President.]
“On the motion of Mr. Morland Simpson the names and addresses of those present at the meeting were noted, in order that a record of them might be kept.
“The meeting was then declared at an end.”
No time was lost in following up what had been started at that meeting, and on 18th October 1893 a General Meeting was held at which the name “Aberdeen Grammar School F.P. Club” was adopted and the first Rules and Constitution were approved. The list of “past pupils” present at the actual formation of the Club contained 62 names, but by the end of the year there were 145 members, the full list being published in the Magazine of January 1894. The Honorary Office-bearers were a body of very distinguished gentlemen. The first Honorary President was Principal Sir William D. Geddes of Aberdeen University, who had been Rector of the School in succession to Dr. James Melvin forty years previously. Of the ten Honorary Vice-Presidents, five were professors, six were Doctors of Law, two were Doctors of Divinity, and one was a Doctor of Medicine.
By the time of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1953 three of the original sixty-two members were still members of the Club and a further ten who were among the 145 members at the end of 1893 were still members, three of them having been Presidents of the Club.