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Promotion of firsts and seconds was highlight of year on pitch for Vale

Vale of Lune Ladies pictured in action.
Vale of Lune Ladies pictured in action.
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Vale of Lune chairman Paul McLaren-Dorrington noted in his AGM report last week that the double promotion of the top two senior sides had been the highlight on the pitch this year.

He said the club must focus on getting the facilities up to where they need to be for clubs competing at the levels of next season.

Unfortunately, he reported, that there had been a large amount of disruption because several key members of staff, clubhouse manager and commercial manger, had left for pastures new; the club is currently involved in a process to fill these vacancies.

A third party professional catering company has recently been engaged to provide food at all the club’s functions.

Work is still required to refurbish the kitchen and the Maurice Armstrong County Bar and will progress when funds become available.

The chairman thanked Steve Swarbrick and his team for all their work on the pitches, in particular during an extremely wet winter.

Maintaining the pitches is an ongoing process and will require further investment as the traffic on them increases.

There will be plenty of work to be carried out during the summer and if anyone is interested in helping they will be most welcome.

Paul Brett-Smith, mini/junior chairman, said that the club has a team at every age range from under 6s through to under 16s.

He was also pleased to see the re-emergence of a Colts section, thus allowing a continuous pathway for players all the way through from the minis to senior rugby.

It had been a successful season for the junior teams, under 12s to under 16s, with them collecting various trophies at Lancashire Cup and Lancashire Development levels.

The girls’ teams at under 13, 15 and 18 levels have struggled to recruit enough players, there had been problems with being able to train on a regular basis due to the weather and shortage of pitches available, plus not enough girls were coming through the mini section.

Both the club and Martin Powell are keen to work with local high schools to boost the numbers for the coming season and will be looking for volunteers to help with the coaching.

Vale hosted two mini festivals with approximately 120 teams attending over the two weekends.

At Easter, Vale was the venue for a two-day rugby camp in conjunction with Sale Sharks, attended by 66 mini players.

The under-13s went on tour to Newcastle and 133 minis went to watch Sale Sharks play Leicester.

Next season, Vale are hoping to build stronger relationships with local schools and to increase the numbers of both boys and girls at mini and junior levels.

The club are looking to support a community rugby coach to work with primary schools.

In the final home game of their season, the first team had 13 players who had previously played mini/junior rugby at the Vale and is credit to the work that had been done by their coaches over the years.

Director of Rugby, Paul Dorrington, reported that senior rugby had been dominated by the success of the first and second teams who had both gained promotion.

Despite a couple of hiccups along the way, the firsts and seconds had played some of the most entertaining rugby seen at Vale for many seasons.

Another success has been the hard work, dedication, team spirit and endeavour shown by the ladies’ team who began the season without a full squad but through the efforts of coach Tom Rogers and team member, Kat Huntriss they ended the season on a positive note.

Joe Bebbington and Paul Scott have worked tirelessly all season to ensure the thirds and fourths fulfilled their fixtures but the director of rugby pointed out that the management of the senior sides was taking its toll on a small group of individuals and help is going to be required going forward.

He also said the club need to seriously consider whether running four teams, week in week out for league fixtures, is achievable and sustainable.

The past season had seen the colts section better aligned and integrated with the seniors, with their coaching team of Ben Dobson, Max Corvi, Paul Clark and Simon Hutton putting the Colts back on the landscape.

The future of the Colts and subsequently the senior squad is beginning to look better than it has for a long time.

Paul Dorrington said that last year, Vale set out on a five-year plan in which the colts have played their part.

All the successes have been achieved by the teams and players facing difficulties and challenges head on and not giving up.

Looking to the future he said that next season will also throw up even more challenges and it will be important to not to lose focus and a sense of belief of what can be achieved.

Vale cannot afford, he said, to rest on their laurels and to remember that the club is only one and a half seasons into a five year plan.

He echoed the words of the Chairman when he called for more volunteers to step forward, in particular to help and support the team managers and also to get the right people in the right positions within the club.

Officials 2018-2019

President: Stuart Hesketh

President Elect: Sarah Baines

Chairman: Paul McLaren-Dorrington

Secretary: Phil Rogerson

Assistant Secretary: Stuart Hesketh

Treasurer: Sarah Baines

Assistant Treasurer: Tony Whiteway

Director of Rugby: Paul Dorrington

Mini Junior Chair: Paul Brett-Smith

Press Secretary: Stuart Vernon

Assistant Press Secretary: Peter Lovett-Horn

Fixtures Secretary: Fred Swarbrick

Match and Referees Secretary: Fred Swarbrick

Senior Membership Secretary: Steven Briggs

Chair of Ground: Steven Swarbrick

Ladies Manger: Kat Huntriss

Ladies Captain: Leah Baldock

Auditors: CLB Cooper’s

General Committee: Stuart Bradburn, Neil McSporran.