First of all, can I wish you and your families good health through these extraordinary and difficult times
For the club this has been a quite desperate time losing so many good friends, former players, members and some true stalwarts who will be missed by many. We have been unable to pay proper respect to their memories and show our appreciation for all they each did for our club going back many years. This we will do when the time is right, when rugby has returned in full and the club is able to welcome everybody back who wants to come.
I name them all now so that they are not forgotten
Once the lockdown restrictions started easing there was a lot of work going on at the club painting, repairing, cleaning and sanitising, all under the leadership of Annette our membership secretary carrying on the excellent work of the last few years with her group of retirees giving up their Thursday’s to do work at the club. Lesley Wyatt, Rod Nicholas, Jon Allen, Graham Blythe, Mike and Peter Magowan, and myself. There has been heavy investment in the pitches which are in a superb condition, probably the best they have been for many years and with the lack of rugby likely across the whole season they should really benefit from the enforced rest. Thanks to Paul Stern for all his continued work in this area. Whilst we looked to cut unnecessary spending where we could to save money the COM took the view that this was an area where we could not afford to stint and I continue to believe that was a good investment for club funds. Against that many of our revenue streams have disappeared. Unable to rent out the facility our bar turnover and outside hiring income is almost non-existent. The Mosque remains closed so there is no rental income from the car park and with Twickenham closed for spectators, we will not benefit from any sponsorship money tied into international tickets. At the same time even with a rates holiday, we have to find our rent (which has just gone up by another £2,000- a year following our latest review with Harrow Council), pay our utilities bills, honour our loan to the RFU for the floodlights and so on. Thanks to Gerry for his prudent stewardship of the club’s finances we are in a solid position with decent reserves but as I am overly fond of saying, pretty much every transaction at the moment is money going out of our club bank account.
Even with no rugby on the horizon, numbers at senior training have been good and we are currently playing in a Ready4Rugby (basically touch rugby) competition over 10 weeks, home and away with five other local clubs which despite the fact that the changing rooms and showers remain closed in line with the instructions to the game from the RFU, has retained interest. The Juniors have seen excellent numbers at training on Sundays but I cannot pretend that if this continues in the long term, we will not struggle to retain interest and support from players across all sections of the club.
The club has had to invest heavily in making sure that our facility is as safe as it is possible. This has not only been a financial commitment but even more so in terms of time and effort. The amount required to get the club open, safe and functioning on a Saturday and Sunday, working within the restrictions and guidelines, is simply huge and I cannot speak highly enough of the COM and all our volunteers who give up so much of our time to make sure that the club continues to offer rugby to our members.
Overall, it is a tough time for every rugby and sports club across the nation and we are no different. Harrow RFC has stood up so far, very well to the challenge but a club is only as strong as its members and we rely on your support in both good times and bad.
Keep safe and I look forward to seeing you all in better times when we can lift a glass to our departed friends and look forward with expectation.
All the best and keep safe