Here we are for another exciting National 2 North fixture against a tough, dogged side prepared to fight for every inch. Getting a sense of De Ja Vu? Well that’s because that is because that is the reality of what N2N is – a tough game against quality opposition week in/week out. Some may argue otherwise but I would suggest that the league is tougher now than the season when we lifted the trophy in 2015/16. Just look at the competition throughout the league and who beats who week on week. Supporters of both sides will not be used to seeing their teams in their respective positions on paper, and that is understandable particularly for Macc who have enjoyed great success in the past in this league.
Personally I have to say although it was wonderful to be part of a title winning management team, but I find the challenge posed currently as the most stimulating, educational, gratifying and character building I ever have been involved with and to put that in some context I have been part of England U18s tours to France and Ireland, a Super League Semi-Final, working on video-scouting for Warrington Wolves and have been involved in both promotion and relegation battles with Preston Grasshoppers.
The club is now embarking on a new era, where a younger, more coachable breed of player who is willing to be part of a long term rebuild of the 1st Team, is what is what is required, where money can no longer be thrown at the problem and everyone in the club pushes in the same direction.
Admittedly so far results have not been ideal, but I would argue that the team spirit is better now than it ever was in the title winning season. Nobody ever said it would be easy, and too often we see in the media the positives of a coaches’ rebuilding job lauded while there was no encouragement from pundits during the early days, but all come out later saying ‘I always knew it’.
I can’t remember where I read it, but I once saw a quote that said ‘I never lose, I either win or learn,’ and each week of the season so far our young squad have learnt lessons, and yeah they have learnt more than they have celebrated, but they are learning, maturing and it is coming slowly but surely. The creases are being ironed out and the winning formula is not far away, and I speak purely for myself when I say sooner or later someone is going to be on the end of this group’s frustrations and cop a real humping. We are so close to seeing it all click. The lads are so willing to learn and so enthusiastic in their training, so strong willed and so together that it can’t not happen, and with all due respect I will be the first to stand up and say ‘I told you so’.
We have 2 quality coaches putting the lads through their paces, we have an inspirational captain who has come back from so much negativity if you look at what he has been through, a leader by example in our Vice-Captain who has played 270-odd games at hooker, a dynamic physio team who give the lads the confidence in their bodies, an analysis team who look for every weakness in the opposition and feedback performance data every week and a Mini & Juniors/Colts set up that is the envy of every club in the area…all that remains is for us all to stay unified and back each other through this transition. The ball will be dropped, lineouts will be lost, we will concede tries but please do not at any time think for one second that anyone in the 1st Team is not giving 100%. We all want the same thing – a successful team and a happy club, and as long as we stick together that is where we will get to. Our young side need your full support which we know you will give as always, so once again today, please rally behind the lads, stay positive, encourage our lads and cheer them on until the final whistle, and the lads will pay you back on the scoresheet I promise you.
Enjoy the game Priory Park, and make as much noise as possible and most importantly have fun.