This update is a bit like a 'sorry I missed your birthday' card, but various factors were at play that prevented these letters being published earlier. While they may now be a few weeks late, the sentiments contained therein are certainly still valid.
1. Secretary's introduction - Ian McBurney
I have great pleasure in enclosing the following documents for the 2017-18 season:
- Presidents Letter – Tony Heffernan
- Captains Letter – Phil Whyte
- Notes from Management Committee – John McMaster
Pre-season is now complete with a good win over Coleraine showing the hard work and effort every player has put in, backed up with wins in both the SONI Premiership and Ulster Bank AIL. This has been matched by the tireless work of the committee, management and coaches that will come together to make this another successful year for our great rugby club.
With this year’s first major fundraiser, Party on the Pitch, being a great success in August we can look forward to plenty more of social and fundraising events going on around the club. Please support these as much as possible and of course we hope to see you all at matches, both home and away. Full details will be on the club website and social media.
A list of Sponsors for this year can be found on our website and I would ask that if you can, please support them. Without them the club could not survive and we are grateful for their backing.
2. President's letter - Tony Heffernan
When I was asked to put my name in the hat for President of Bangor Rugby Football and Cricket Club, my first thought was what can I bring to the table that will enhance the club, and how can I follow the previous presidents. I looked at the people around me, and who would support my term in office, and thought, why not?
I joined the club in the early 90s and played 2nd / 3rd XV rugby. In 1996 I was involved in taking an Under 18s squad to South Africa, where we played in Johannesburg, Nelsprit, & Durban. I was then associated with the infamous Manchester tour, which helped to raise funds for improvements to the club house and changing facilities. The weekend was fairly uneventful, but we won the game easily, with ‘Billy my-neighbour’ playing at fullback at one point.
The senior coaching staff, Jason Morgan and Lewis Stevenson, have delivered some very exciting and innovative training sessions during the pre-season period that are already leading to an enhanced thinking and reading of the game by the players, with captain Phil Whyte ensuring all is well on the field of play. With good wins already in the AIL and SONI Premiership, hopes are high for a successful season.
Our 2nd XV has grown in strength under the tutelage of Ryan Meeke over the past few years. Unfortunately Ryan has stepped down this year, but we are pleased to have secured the services of Paul Andrews who will take charge of the 2nd XV for the coming season. Keith Rosson is this year’s captain, and brings a wealth of ability and experience to the role.
Our 3rd XV – aka the mighty Gryphons – have continued to excel, winning their league in February 2017 without losing a single game. I'm a great believer in that things don't just happen, it’s people that make it happen. Under the command of Jason Rainey as coach, with his unique training methods that have the 3rds still on the training park well after everyone has gone home, the attention to preparation has certainly been reflected in their performance. With Alan Atcheson stepping up from captain to coach this year, I’m confident that his organised approach to the game will continue to nurture some very exciting young players.
Youth rugby has continued to grow under the guidance of David Coey and his team. Indeed, David has great energy and enthusiasm, and has worked hard to get local schools involved in rugby, while also organising numerous games at Upritchard Park, giving the youth a taste of rugby under the big lights.
Our ladies section is growing stronger each year, again under David’s tutelage. Although there is a good nucleus of players, more ladies are needed to form a full team. Training continues every Sunday, so if you know any girls who would like to give rugby a go, you can contact David.
Liam Foley continues to look after the Minis section. These youngsters are the future of our club so having a dedicated team of volunteers is vital for children and their rugby development. Minis train every Sunday afternoon – I would ask all players to give a little of their time, and go along and offer your help to the coaches. This will not only give them a well-earned respite from coaching, but will also give you a lift and regenerate your passion for the game. The kids have so much energy all they want to do is have fun, and maybe learn a few skills – you know how that feels.
Changes have taken place in all areas of the club. We have witnessed the birth of a Utilities Team with the retired section stepping up to the mark to take over the daily cleaning, marking and cutting of the pitches and grounds. The team comprises myself, Roger Clegg, John McMaster, Dinger Bell, David Montgomery, David Morrow and Norman Gault, all under the expert guidance of Wilson McCloskey who is the brains behind the crew. Most of the guys have literally left their mark on the pitch while undergoing training on the line-marking machine, and yes, the early bird gets the tractor!
The Club’s Party on the Pitch event, is becoming the must-see music festival people put in their diary at the start of the year. Hard work and planning has seen the event develop over the years and, as the elder statesman of the group, I would like to take this opportunity to relay my thanks and appreciation to the lads on the POTP committee who have not only given their free time but have juggled family life around the event to make it such a success. It has been a blast over the last four years, every minute has been fun. As Mick Skinner commented, this mix of hard work and fun, both on and off the pitch, marks Bangor as “a proper rugby club”.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for continuing to support the club throughout the year. Their financial help is vital for the survival and development of the Club, and their backing is greatly appreciated.
All that remains for me to say is that your support for the Club is vital, and I'm calling on all members to get behind all the teams this year. I sincerely wish all our players an enjoyable, safe and successful season.
3. Captain's letter - Phil Whyte
It is of utmost pleasure and honour to write to you again as club captain of Bangor RFC for the incoming season. After a long off-season, we have had the time to reflect on what a challenging season we had endured. We remain a senior club in Ulster Bank League 2C and over the course of last season we were challenged immensely, however we have undoubtedly become a more mature side collectively as a team and as individuals. This is already showing with an intense pre-season in the gym and on the pitch as we put in a lot of hard work and developing our bodies and skills to prepare ourselves for the challenge of the season ahead. It’s great to see so many new faces around the club and young players from local schools, especially Bangor Grammar School, showing that the link between the club and school is once again becoming very strong and helping Bangor to become a prominent senior club. Once again, I am hugely excited about the season ahead and leading this group of players into the incoming season, and hope that I can serve the club as well as all before me.
We have added to the already excellent coaching panel at Bangor RFC for this coming season with Lewis Stevenson coming in as player coach to not only give his experience on the pitch but also off it. Along with Jason Morgan I feel we have two of the most experienced coaches in Ulster guiding our 1st XV. Paul Andrews comes in to help the 2nd XV, whilst Alan Atcheson will continue his stellar job at coaching the 3rd XV. We have also made exciting new signings in key areas that makes the battle for places even more competitive which, in turn, drives the players to perform and to pull the best from themselves on the pitch. Along with the continued support and management from the background staff that we have at Bangor RFC we couldn’t possibly be in the position we are in at the minute.
Pre-season is now over and we have already had encouraging victories in both the SONI Premiership and Ulster Bank AIL. We are under no illusions of the challenge of the season ahead but I feel we are in a better position physically and mentally than last year to be a top 4 contender in Division 2C.
Finally, I want to wish all the teams representing Bangor rugby club this season, whether it is the 1st XV, 2nd XV, 3rd XV , Ladies, Youth and Minis, the best of luck for the incoming season and to hopefully see you as a member around the club to soak up what promises to be an exciting season for everyone.
4. Note from Management Committee - John McMaster
The year ahead again as always will be challenging as the Club strives, like any other business, to balance its books in difficult economic circumstances.
Our Management committee is strong.
Bill Hichens has stepped down as Club Treasurer and Stephen Burns takes on the role together with his finance committee. Thanks to Bill for all his hard effort and work for the club.
Together with Norman Gault as our much valued Club Secretary please be assured our finances and club governance are in safe hands.
Continued hard work within both the Rugby and Cricket Sections ensure both sections are self-financing. Many thanks to Chairmen of Rugby and Cricket, Jonny Watson and Chris Escott. I wish both much continued success.
We wish Laura Bradford every success in her new role as Social Convenor, and she does seek and deserve our support in forthcoming club events.
We now have a strong and dedicated volunteer team to maintain our grounds. Under the direction of Wilson McCloskey the team display a very strong work ethic and dedication to our grounds. Our club should be thankful to this team.
Our 2 main income streams, the bar and collection of subscriptions, are closely managed by Roger Clegg and Tommy Speers. Again, in very safe hands.
Pavilion as always is well kept in the hands of our club president Tony Heffernan.
Mark Thallon is well in control of our club Commercial and Development.
The Management Committee continues to focus on income and reviewing the costs needed to maintain our grounds and pavilion, while continuing to strengthen rugby and cricket. In this respect, the following areas are so crucial:
- Subs are fully paid up and on time. New members are most welcome.
- Our club monthly draw is successful and vital – so please sign up if you have not already done so.
- Support Laura and use and promote the Club for birthday or family celebrations, etc. to maximise our bar income.
- Continue our close working relationships with our close neighbours, Bangor Grammar School.
Looking forward to another all-round successful year at Upritchard Park.
Updated 14:27 - 9 Oct 2017 by Roger Corbett