Intramural Sport History Project

The ‘History of Intramural Sport’ document aims to detail (to a degree) how Intramural has changed has changed over the years through the eyes of key volunteers and members. Common themes, challenges and successes will be described as well as personal testimonies and pertinent events that occurred.

We have selected three testimonies below to give you a taste of what the final document will look like.

All ‘testimonies’ are abridged versions of what was said by the testimonee.

Engineers hockey posing for a photo at the edge of a red hockey pitch

The Engineering Hockey Club

Case Study – Stew Fowlie (VP IMS 2001/2)

In the early 2000’s (and indeed, beforehand) the men’s football club would usually enter a few teams into the 11-a-side IM league – which at the time proved to be useful for integration between the club and IMS. Stew’s involvement stemmed from the football club and then went into a position as an Ordinary member on the Exec committee and then went on to be VP IMS (and SU President the year after!)

During this time, there were many other leagues also taking place but football 11s dominated (with more than 50* teams entered across the leagues) and Hockey and Rugby still having strong popularity. At the time there were other one-off events ran in Intramural on an ad-hoc basis that also helped to engage students who were not already part of IMS teams.

At the time the responsibilities of the VP IMS largely concerned ensuring results from fixtures were recorded and reported, facility bookings and referee’s were all sorted before fixtures took place. Even then, Peffermill was still the go-to venue for our outdoor leagues and where needed fixtures would take place at different Edinburgh Leisure venues. Promotions and relegations were done on a seasonal basis (similar to now) and the summer cup was widely supported and a hot-topic amongst many of the IMS teams.

Within the football 11s league, many teams that had players staying in Edinburgh after graduation would still enter into the league every year. One such team - ‘Cantiere San Rocco’ - had already been in the IMS league for 15+ years when Stew was VP IMS (indeed, having more history than some full clubs), and remained in the league until very recently.

Intramural Cricket, Women’s Football (reintroduced to IMS in 2016/17) and Touch Rugby were also part of IMS at the time and saw some degree of popularity. Intramural cricket was tedious to run at the time as it would require a lot of keeping check of the inventory and teams passing on equipment to one another.

From a personal perspective, Stew mentioned that managing IMS helped greatly with time management and organisation due to it being a large commitment on top of final year studies. It was also mentioned that IMS provides a great way for people from many different backgrounds to meet and interact in a relax setting that they otherwise would not have. As with all great things however, IMS had (and has) it’s challenges. Organising teams to always show up on time to their fixture (and sometimes to the correct pitch) could be very involved and having to deal with minor conflicts that arose were all experiences held under Stew’s belt.

Compared to then, IMS now reaches more people and is more closely spread across the SU (as well as having a broader offer). Stew mentioned that IMS feels more professional and formalised than it did before (the author is appreciative of this comment).

*approximate figure

Case Study: Eivind Friis Hamre (VP IMS 2015/16)

The second case study comes from Eivind, who as well as being VP IMS in 2015/16 is one of the founding members of the Baird Buffaloes IM Football team – a team that remains strong in number to this day.

Upon wanting to make a more relaxed team where people could play football socially, Eivind teamed up with some friends and founded Baird Buffaloes. After trying out American Football (and a local handball club), there wasn’t a real sense of team spirit and something didn’t quite click. In the second official year of it’s running, numbers skyrocketed and two teams were entered into the IM league and many of the processes were made official (it was noted that they were perhaps made too official relative to many IMS teams). Eivind then went on to become the B-Team coach (the A-team was relatively more effort to play in and maintain a presence in) and was also Secretary (part of the Founding 4*). Helping manage the team also proved to be a lot of fun and being able to provide a good service for people was very rewarding.

Further to this, Eivind decided to run for VP IMS as he also identified areas within IMS that could do with a some improvement. Namely, individually booking referee’s every week for the 11s fixture was very tedious and often led to players not having a referee (and hence fixtures being more dangerous). At the time, some teams were rather flippant about missing fixtures and there would sometimes be mix-ups with fixture bookings. Eivind dedicated a large part of his time to ensuring that the structure of IMS was more efficient and that the logistics could be improved. This lead to one of IMS’ greatest achievements in securing Phil Duncan as our referee coordinator for football 11s who has proved invaluable in taking charge of and streamlining a great deal of previously tedious work.

There were more one-off events ran throughout the year and predominantly within 5-a-side football (at the time it was not present as a league within Intramural).

Even now, Eivind still plays football casually with a team in London and fondly remembers his time with Baird Buffaloes, similarly having a few teams play in BUCS in the IM league was great for the recognition of the clubs.

*This term was not used by Eivind and is abridged by the author.

Intramural all-stars rugby team wearing dark blue shirs standing together looking at something behind and to the left of the camera

The IMS All-Stars Rugby Team

Case Study – Natalie McCaig (IMC 2019/20)

Next up on the History of IMS project we have Nat McCaig, Intramural Coordinator (19/20).

Unlike some others, Nat brings a more traditional hockey side to IMS stemming from her large involvement with the Women’s hockey club. Being a goalkeeper, Nat was always in high demand from the club and through this got to work with many different areas of the club and SU. It was mentioned within EUWHC that there was a position going on the Intramural committee for the Hockey Officer. This year (18/19) was the first year of the new Intramural committee – in a different format to the preceding one that existed 15 years prior to this (more info to come in a later section on this). Nat then applied for the role and was (rightly) appointed to the position. Nat also already knew the incoming VP IMS and staff member (Ollie Cruickshank and Fergus MacKenzie, articles to come) through the IMS Committee – further proving it’s use as in helping students develop.

Though the Intramural hockey league has been a fairly relaxed one over the past year, three years ago the captains were known to cause a ruckus at the slightest issue (often with the weather, it should be noted) and Nat would be on the receiving end of many phone calls from disgruntled captains*. As such, when Nat was encouraged to run for Intramural Coordinator one of the largest tasks was to streamline much of the communication to captains and ensure that officers and captains had the sufficient training required. Additionally, the process of having new players join teams was greatly confusing and Nat endeavoured to change this and did so through more regular communication with captains and encouraging new players to give IM Hockey a try**.

2019/20 was the first year of the ‘Give It A Go’ events being officially implemented which aimed to bring more new students into IMS through trial events for all the sports ran alongside captains looking for new players. These events were a massive success with many players entering teams and some even forming their own with other people they met on the day – expanding peer groups like no other aspect of the university (true pioneering). This also brough along the Great New Wave of IMS teams***  which helped introduce many new teams to IMS, helping the longevity of the program.

Some challenges found during this period was mass communication sent out to all captains – as every league runs differently the wants and needs of captains can be very different and some would not engage with large scale emails. This process was improved through handing over communications to officers more and ensuring that the officers were sufficiently equipped to deal with queries and knew when to pass it along to VP, IMC or staff. This also tied into the work done to ensure that the VP and IMC would go down to most of the leagues through the year and chat to the captains and directly get feedback, this also gave the IMS team a sense of how things ran from their end and what (if anything needed to be changed).

*not all captains were quick to complain (e.g the Engineering Hockey captains amongst others).

**Friday nights under the peffs lights can be an intimidating experience at first, it must be said.

***Not a true historical event

Case Study – Paul Duffy (VP IMS 2016/18 and SU President 2018/19)

One of the largest names in recent Intramural history is Paul Duffy. Being VP IMS 2016/17 and 2017/18, he brought about many changes and went on to become Sports Union President in 2018/19.

Paul first got involved with sport at the university through MathSoc Football, who at the time were not part of the IMS league as they sadly missed the deadline for entries. Not one to be deterred however, Paul took on responsibility with the team in his first year and in his following year managed all MathSoc Intramural sport teams – a great undertaking. He also ensured that all the teams met the deadline for entries.

After having a very successful year as sports secretary for MathSoc, Paul got to speaking to Eivind and Joe (previous VP IMS and IMC, respectively) and became interested in running for one of the exec positions. At the time the IMC position was uncontested however there was someone running for VP IMS, that person then dropped out however and both IMS Exec positions became uncontested. Paul and Paddy Hayes (IMC in 2016/17) decided to run for the positions and were duly elected – despite neither being present on the day and having others speak on their behalf.

Paul stayed on in the role for the year following as well having enjoyed it greatly in his first year. This being said there were challenges faced during this time. In 2017/18 the staffing structure of the sports union changed and there was more staff time allocated to Intramural as well as having 1-2-1’s being formally introduced on a fortnightly basis. Having more contact time introduced better communication throughout the programme and also ensured that everyone within the IMS team remained on the same page.

Though women’s football was introduced into IMS many years ago, it was reintroduced into the league by Paul in 2017/18. Football 5s was also introduced into the league in 2016/17 – previously football 5s was only played during one day/week tournaments. During this period, the software used to schedule fixtures was Top Tournament – which was later replaced by Playwaze for being a superior software.

Paul also oversaw the introduction of two big structures within Intramural: the Intramural Sport Committee and the Vice-President’s Trophy. The committee was introduced as there was (and was always) too much work to be done solely by the VP IMS, IMC and staff – interestingly, the older structure of the SU Executive Committee had two ordinary members that (amongst other things) would help the VP IMS with their responsibilities and there would also be other ‘Sport Convenors’. These convenors would be the equivalent of the current IMS sport officers and would be largely responsible for the running of the leagues.

The Vice-President’s trophy came about as many IMS teams would see very little point in going to the ball as there was not any IMS awards. As such, Paul had the Vice-President’s trophy introduced in 2018 (for the academic year 2019/20). This is one of Paul’s greatest achievements within IMS that has left a legacy that will continue for many years to come, and played a large role in helping raise the profile of IMS teams within university sport and helping them to feel more integrated with the sports union. It also gives teams something to work towards and helps to quantify one of the ways in which an Intramural team can be “good”.

2018/19 was also a big year as it was the first year of Intramural All-Stars – where the best players in IMS play against the clubs (as a pilot, football 11s was tested and a new sport has been added every year since). Interestingly, Paul had his first use of his refereeing qualification in this game and his performance was arguably better than that of some of the players.

Following on from being VP IMS, Paul made a special bid in the SU’s planning submission in his year as President for funding for the ‘Give It A Go’ events that take place during welcome and help to encourage new players to get involved with Intramural. Overall Paul contributed a great deal to the IMS programme and has helped to elevate it greatly.


If you would like to share your own experiences of Intramural or know someone who does, then please get in touch with our Vice President Intramural Abd (

Author: Abd Al-Rahman Al-Remal - Vice President Intramural 2021/22