To the Wharfedale Players and Supporters
We live in unprecedented and challenging times. It has given a great deal of perspective when considering what is important in life. It is the hope of better things to come that helps us through and looking forward to being a part of the Wharfedale rugby community again is certainly one of those. The memories of last season give us so much hope for the future.
We welcomed a number of new faces into the senior playing squads this year with the outstanding Colts team of 2018/19 coming through; no fewer than nine of those players were selected to make their first team debuts during the season. In addition, Jonny Moore, Matt Speres and Jamie Brookes joined us and made a great impact proving to be valuable members of the team. There were some fantastic team and individual tries, none better than some of those we scored on the road: Henry Macnab’s chip and collect against Huddersfield to finish a team movement that started in our own 22, Oscar Canny’s dancing feet to go over untouched against a set back-line defence at Sheffield Tigers, followed by Sam Gaudie’s finish from a funky lineout play in the same game were all outstanding efforts and everyone watching will remember them for a long time to come. The mid-table finish at the end of the year disguises how the gap between us and the top 6 is narrowing, with the unforgettable performance against unbeaten champions Caldy underlining how close we are. But ‘close’ is not near enough, our ambitions are higher.
I am hugely grateful for the support and enthusiasm provided by those who have been a part of or assisted the senior coaching staff throughout this year: Jon Skurr, Chris Black, Rob Baldwin, Rob Burnett, Hedley Verity, David Pears, Philip Peel and Adam Mason have made important contributions. One individual who deserves special praise is the irrepressible Matt Shuttleworth, the coach of the Foresters. He has provided the drive and support for players to develop and challenge. This platform is invaluable in giving players exposure to senior rugby. Sam Booker’s fifty metre sprint to score in the superb win at Tynedale underlined the importance of this link; when the opportunity came he was in a position to take it.
The challenge now is to move forward again, we cannot afford to stand still in a league that improves in standard year on year. But we want to get better; the players and coaching team are determined to do so. There are many people who allow this to happen behind the scenes and I thank everyone who has contributed their time, effort and ideas this year. People such as Fred Fox, who produced fantastic pitches which allowed us to play our game, Matt Wareing our legendary team manager, the wonderful medical team, the army of match day volunteers and the mini and junior coaches whose work underpins everything we do. It is the unsung heroes who make the club what it is.
I hope to see you all back at the Avenue in good health in the near future.
Strength comes from the hills!