Prudhoe & Stocksfield RUFC

Prudhoe & Stocksfield RUFC

Journal Live article

PRUDHOE and Stocksfield have seen it all in their brief history, but the fledgling club are now back on an upward curve.

Promoted as 2009-10 Durham and Northumberland Three champions in their first year in the leagues, a gruelling campaign saw them sent back straight down at the first attempt.

Now riding high at the top of Division Three with new coach Ginge Wills at the helm, life is once again rosy as they prepare for their 30th birthday party.

We will celebrate 30 years since our formation next season, although most of that was in our previous incarnation as Prudhoe Hospital where we were originally founded, said club president Peter Jones.

A couple of guys from Tynedale who were playing third or fourth-team rugby saw it as an opportunity to start their own club and, at the time, Prudhoe Hospital was a large and active institution with a thriving social club and lots of ground for a very good rugby pitch.

Changing circumstances meant a major rethink, with Jones revealing: In 2000 we moved to Stocksfield. That evolution has included a significant change in personnel, although we still have one life member from the original club who regularly comes to watch.

It had come to the point where the hospital was closing, and at the time it was understood that everything would simply be sold off. The rugby club approached Prudhoe and Stocksfield Council, because the sports field at Stocksfield is actually an amalgam between the cricket club and the parish council who have a long lease.

It was arranged through those parties and a significant part of the deal was to incorporate Stocksfield into the club name, so we became Prudhoe and Stocksfield RFC and the change has been good on any number of levels.

We pay a rent to the parish council for the use of the pitch, the clubhouse is owned by the cricket club and we have a good relationship with many guys playing both sports.

While we own nothing on the one hand, the upside is we have no debt. Our money goes across their bar every week, and in return they provide facilities and resources for us to use. It works well.

Outlining a brief but eventful history under their new name, Jones said: As time went on we played in the Northumberland county leagues where we started enjoying success, and two seasons ago we moved into the national league structure.

We won Durham and Northumberland Three with a small squad at the first attempt in 2010, but last season received a loud wake-up call in Division Two. Really we had paid lip service to the team, and last season showed that if we want to play rugby seriously we had got to get our act together.

Currently top of Division Three and virtually certain of filling one of the two promotion spots, the president said: We believe we have improved this season. Two sides get promoted from Division Three, and we actually had the opportunity to stay in Division Two last season when they increased the numbers in the league. We still opted to come down because we recognised that we had to rebuild, reconsider and rethink it all.

We acquired a cluster of players from Northumbria University who have been very good, along with our own nucleus, and also some ex-Tynedale players who were not getting their games with the sheer numbers that Tynedale have. We were joined by a guy called Ginge Wills in July, who had been coaching to a reasonable standard down in Shropshire at national league and county under-20s level.

He had moved back up to the region after playing for Winlaton and Blaydon, and we have really enjoyed having him at the club. He has upped our game, and the fact that we are a much better coached team now has made a big difference.

Being pushed all the way by Seaham for the league title, Jones said: Our pride absolutely says we do not want to lose any more games, and arguably the toughest of our remaining matches will be away to Chester-le-Street a week on Saturday. I know they are bottom of the league, but they try to play an expansive game and they are one of the sides who have really matched us when we played them at home earlier in the season.

Hoping to augment on-field success with their continued growth and prosperity, he added: We are a small community club and we are always on the look-out for partners to sponsor us, but our player base is up and there is a tremendous club spirit.

I am probably the oldest on the committee, and the encouraging thing is that the bulk of it is made up of lads who are also current players.

Because our squad is bigger now we have been able to give a few minutes to some of our older guys in what you might call the second-team or veterans side of the club, and it would be great if we could develop that.

We are probably four or five players away from being able to field a full team along those lines, and hopefully next season if things go well we might be able to put out a second-team. That would be really good, and it is realistic now if we can get a few new players joining the club.

Grateful for assistance from above, Jones said: We have been very well supported by the county, and in May I become senior vice-president of the Northumberland Rugby Union. That means that at the end of our 30th year, for the first time ever, there will be a county president from Prudhoe and Stocksfield.

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