Everyone at Priory Park is now preparing for next season which starts in four week time. The first and second teams are in full training and the fourth held their annual Congleton pub crawl.
Confidence and Optimism
There’s lots of confidence and hope in the top two teams. New head coach Andy Appleyard, universally nicknamed Apps by the players is full of belief that he will get the team promoted back to National 2. He has a new assistant, Rick Jones, and also with help from 2nd team coaches Pete Langley & Jim Curtis they hold extensive team sessions twice a week and all the players are obviously doing their own fitness routines, they all appear to be in great condition.
Club Captain Tom Morton who was skipper last season is determined to start the season off with a bang. He told Clubman that he intends the side will hit their straps immediately because it’s so important to demonstrate to to all the others in the league we’re a side to be feared and then we can take the Northern Premier League by storm. Another indicator is the fitness and availability of scrum half Sam Stelmaszek. When he played at number nine last season Macclesfield either won or only lost by a couple of points, had he been there for every match both Apps and Morton are convinced the season would have had a different outcome.
The senior members have started playing walking rugby every Tuesday evening. This initiative has been the brainchild of Mike Keeling and Dave Mair. The club chairman Steve Branch, treasurer Peter White, gate money collector Colin Joyce and a dozen others enjoy a walkout. There’s no tackling or kicking, played on a quarter-sized pitch and resembles the best of Rugby Union and Rugby League, perhaps now they know about it a few former Stags players will also turn out including previous Clubman reporter Geoff Allan.
Further, there are plans afoot to have an Under 23 side; this team will have fixtures during university vacations and be composed of former Colts and other young stars who are unavailable during university terms but will want games in September, Christmas holidays and April. This will maintain the connection with the club and hopefully ensure that they will return to us when they commence their post-university careers
We do need to keep last season’s momentum for our ladies team. At present they don’t have a full season of fixtures but these can be soon arranged because Women’s rugby is definitely going from strength to strength throughout the north-west.
Trophies for last season
The Bert Ashley Tankard was presented to Simon Grant. He returned to playing at age 53, he managed and captained the 3rd XV. He had hung his boots up 20 years ago but in this role he ensured the thirds fulfilled their fixtures by finding former players and cajoling them to turn out. Without Grant’s massive effort the side would have certainly folded.
The Mark Goodchild Award for services to the club was given to James Jennings. He organised bands of volunteers to improve the facilities of the clubhouse. It had been hoped that a parcel of land could be sold for housing but the planning application was rejected so the injection of money never materialised.
Jennings set about bringing the club up to standard with little money but enormous enthusiasm. Every club would love to have a James Jennings, a true Clubman.
The Dave Close Trophy for Chairman’s player of the season went to Joe Palmer, the award is
not necessarily given to the best player but the most consistent and committed. Palmer played every match for the last two seasons covering all back five places in the scrum.
Congratulations to all three members they were presented by Peter Harper our new President. Bert Ashley, Mark Goodchild and Dave Close are all former players who unfortunately are no longer with us, their families donated grants to MRUFC so trophies could be presented annually in their memories.
Fixtures and Leagues for next season
These have been announced already and Clubman will be publishing all the teams’ fixtures. It has been immediately noted that the First XV will need to travel up to the North East five times. For supporters and players to go this far so often requires a big commitment from everybody. It must be our ambition that five bonus-point victories will be the outcome.
In the photo, Richard the people are left to right
Jim Curtis, 2nd XV assistant coach, Tom Morton, captain, Andy Appleyard head coach, Sam Stelmaszek