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Chairman's Notes AGM 2013

Broughton Park RFC

Annual General Meeting
Wednesday 8th May 2013
Chairman’s Report Season 2012/13

My second report as Chairman of the Club could not come against a more contrasting background than that of 12 months ago. The best playing record for the 1st team in the history of the Club has seen us bounce back to NW1 at the first attempt. Despite 2 off days at Warrington and New Brighton, we scored 1,173 points at 45 a game and conceded only 234 points at 9. With Ade Titiloye the League’s leading try scorer with 44 tries, backed by Blake Mahovic (32) and Warren Duffy (28), we were served some delightful rugby throughout the season. We all know that it will be much tougher to repeat this next season in NW1 where the majority of teams will be paying most players whilst Park continue as an amateur club but I have no doubts that we will rise to the challenge. This weekend, we will get an early test as we play the final of the Lancashire Trophy against old rivals Rochdale.

Against the backdrop of “champagne rugby”, it was therefore a disappointment to see so few matches well attended and it wasn’t until the play-off game against Eccles that we saw a really good home turnout. We are, as a result, very grateful to the band of supporters who turn out most weeks home and away to support the Club vocally and financially.

Before looking at the record of the lower teams, I have to congratulate the management and coaches of the 1st team squad. Phil Sutcliffe has been an outstanding Team Manager working not only with the 1st team but across all senior teams, the Colts and the Minis. Jason Duffy as Head Coach has drilled the squad superbly and the technical ability and discipline has visibly improved as the season progressed. The addition of Kit Brammer as backs coach has contributed hugely to the open football we have enjoyed throughout the season and it is no coincidence that Kit was absent from the field of play for the two defeats. Last season, we said thank you and goodbye to Mark Lloyd, but in the tradition of any decent heavyweight champion, his retirement was short lived and he has brought his considerable knowledge to 2nd half of the season. Guy Barlow missed the last 6 weeks of the season through injury, but he added his experience to the coaching team in the final promotion push. My view, for what it is worth, is that all that team spirit, the season long improvement in the technical ability, the game plan, and execution culminated in the win against the league champions elect, Warrington when we won 46 – 0, to prove that the best team in the league finished runners up. As one of the Warrington committee members subsequently wrote to me “you gave us an object lesson in rugby”. Well done boys!

Going down the teams, we knew it was going to be tough all through, as our teams are consistently competing against the junior teams of clubs where the 1st team is in a much higher division. The Griffins had an outstanding season finishing a very respectable 4th in their league and from the beginning of November lost only 5 games, some of which were by the narrowest of margins. Neil Parkin did a superb job marshalling this team and ensuring that the 1st had a succession of good replacements when the need arose and he was ably supported by Mark Flynn.

The Wyverns were always going to have the hardest job this season, playing in a league where the only other 3rd team was Caldy whose 1st team is 3 leagues above Park. Chris Brock and his team worked tirelessly to get players out on the pitch and to fulfil fixtures and whilst they will go down next season, they can be proud that the only heavy defeats were to Warrington and Caldy, the two outstanding sides in the league.

The Unicorns had a good season finishing a creditable 3rd in their league whilst notching up some impressive wins. Two successive defeats immediately after Christmas both, by 2 points, eventually cost them the title, with perhaps the consolation of not having a continuing struggle next season in a higher league. Again, we have to acknowledge the huge amount of work that has to go into getting these teams on the pitch. Del Trotter should have had the relatively straightforward task of managing the 4ths but has had to take on much of the work of the 3rds also and without this unstinting effort, we would not have had a 4th team.

Again this season, the Dragons led by the ageless Kevin O’Brien produced another remarkable performance, this time going one step further and securing promotion in to the same league next season as the Unicorns. The solitary loss was a conceded game to Bowden when the majority of the side could be found fulfilling the 3rd team fixture. The 5ths have again had a mixture of the genuine social players, some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue! Players new to the game who will go on to higher levels have been joined by colts breaking into senior rugby. This is good for the future of the Club and ensures that Park is able to cater for all levels in the game.

However, I make the plea again to all players in the lower teams; please make yourself available to whatever team you are asked to play for in a given week. That is the only way we can continue to turn out 5 teams without our team managers being totally run off their feet and being left frustrated. Please play up when asked, no one wants to make you play at a higher level than you wish to on a permanent basis, but please be a true clubman and do what is right for your club and your team mates.

Finally, in the senior side of the Club we have to congratulate the Senior Colts on another fine season. Despite a superior scoring record, the title was lost by one point to Fleetwood who could though, claim the only two defeats Park suffered in the league all season. The final blow was a narrow defeat by Chester in the Bowl Final, the last match of the season, but again an honourable performance and one the team can be proud of. We have been pleased to see two of the side, Michael Butt and Donald Nonyane make impressive 1st team debuts this season and they look to have great futures with Park at the senior level; others will no doubt come through and serve Park well for many years to come. Again, our thanks must go to Mark Butt and Alan Phillips for their untiring work with the boys over many years. This team has been outstanding throughout their age groups and they are a great credit to Park. Mention must also go to Club Captain Dave Hanby and to Warren Duffy who have taken on coaching roles with the Colts. The only two “ever presents” on the 1st team, they have found the time to add Wednesday evenings and Sundays to their existing commitments and to make a very important link to the 1st team for our younger players; two great clubmen.

However, as this Colts team now progresses to senior rugby, we have to face the realism that it will be another 5 years before we have a junior colts side and 7 years before we have home grown players coming through to senior level. As a Club, we have to work very hard to ensure this does not become a crisis and the good work and the relationships we have developed with the Universities becomes critical in our future planning.

That’s a lot from me on the playing side, but a successful season deserves due recognition. I will not say too much about the junior playing side of the Club in this report other than to thank the coaches and parents for all the work they do and for entrusting Broughton Park with the job of developing the skills and subsequent enjoyment of rugby for your children; it is an honour that I hope we can repay. I am however pleased to see that a number of new faces have come through the junior side of the Club this season and are making their presence felt. This is a tremendous development and one I hope will continue as the juniors bring so much to the Club in terms of our future and how we are regarded by the sporting bodies.

Off the pitch, we have made great strides this year in developing the Club as a venue for social events. This time last year, I reported that we had entered in to an agreement with Kit Brammer and Rob Jones for them to manage the Club bar under our new premises licence. Rob and Kit have exceeded the target we set as first year turnover and have brought new people to the Club to experience what we have to offer. Mistakes have been made, but they have been small compared with the successes and what we have learnt. We have invested heavily in improving our bar and our capacity to host quality events for outside organisations. On Friday, we will hold the Club Annual Dinner in the Club bringing the profits to the Club rather than an hotelier in town who doesn’t know us from Adam. Other clubs and organisations will follow suit. We have bookings for birthday parties and weddings and are just touching the surface of the possibilities that our venue offers. This extra activity will at times be an inconvenience for Club members, but it is the price we have to pay to remain financially viable.

A disappointment in the year was the failure again to start the work on relaying pitches 2 and 3. A protracted legal process by the RFU’s appointed legal advisors meant that we ran out of time to do the work in the close season and suffered the consequences in what was to turn out to be the wettest year in a century. The good news is that the order has been placed for the work to start immediately after the Manchester 7’s tournament next weekend which means we will go into next season with 3 excellent pitches and 2 acceptable ones.

Members who attended the recent meeting on the development of Hough End will surely have been excited about the opportunities that could come from that project. We are lucky to have an excellent working relationship with the City Council that remains committed to sports development within the City. We are privileged to have a lease on the most important City Centre playing field and one that has been given to the Council to be used as such in perpetuity. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss, but it will take a lot of hard work and commitment from Club members for it to be successful. It is not a project that I wish to see developed in secrecy and behind closed doors, it is your Club, your future, your enjoyment and your responsibility, let’s grab it and secure Broughton Park for the next 130 years.

My final thanks go to all those who have given their time to the Club for yet another year. To our sponsors without whose support we would be a lot poorer, our employees who give more than they are contracted to, the Committee members who have supported me, the volunteers who prepare the pitches and clean the changing rooms, our catering and bar staff, to the parents of all our young members and to the loyal supporters who follow the teams through thick and thin. My apologies to anyone I have missed, my only excuse being that we all do this for fun, now let us now all look forward to a successful and enjoyable year ahead.

Alan Bramhall
01 July 2013


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