There is no disputing the fact the Club has been through a difficult and demanding 14 months in an attempt to reverse fortunes, introduce and implement policies, both business and structural, rebuild and nurture a club culture and establish and maintain a lively atmosphere within its environs. I know I am a tad biased but certainly if the atmosphere generated for the recent pre-season friendlies, in tandem with the impressive turnout for the visit of the of the World Cup is anything to go by, we are definitely getting there.
On the business front the Board are investigating methods of ensuring the future financial health of the business is secured and that we are not allowed to regress into difficulty again. On the drawing board is a scheme allowing members to invest in their Club in the form of Loan Notes and it is hoped that this will be rolled out to properly gauge interest amongst the membership towards the end of this month.
Our Director of Rugby, Andy Dawling, and his team have also been far from idle during the off-season. We now have an impressive array of qualified coaches spread throughout the various age groups within the Club and we have more going through the system as this is being written. Not only is Andy undertaking the coaching of the men’s 1st XV but he is also showing a remarkably astute ‘whole club’ vision in his drive to introduce a playing philosophy that transcends all sections of the Club.
With a new captain ‘King’ Harry Durrant (pictured above), along with another promising crop of Academy players coming through, as well as some old faces returning to the Club, the future for our Mens 1st XV looks very bright indeed.
New to the coaching team is Catherine Spencer who has taken up the mantle with the Ladies 1st XV. As the ex-England captain, Catherine has an impressive and unequalled playing pedigree and it is clear that when this is converted and applied to an equally intensive approach to coaching there can be nothing but benefits for the Club.
The decision to peg membership rates this year has proved positive, as has the decision to allow payments to be spread and/or made by e-transfer online, with many already choosing to utilise this facility. Given it is already the minis/midis/youth membership enrolment weekend, it would be nice to be able to assume that every player donning a Bulls shirt in the coming weeks as the season starts will be a fully paid-up, bona fide member of the Club. Surely a reasonable goal and one I know is eminently achievable.
The Club’ standing among the organising bodies (RFU and KCRFU) has never been higher than it is at the moment. This is reflected in the decision to use Aylesford as part of the ‘Trophy Tour’ (an unqualified success from any angle) and, I am pleased to announce, we have been confirmed as hosts for the 2016 Kent Finals. Fair accolades indeed and no doubt due in large part to the positive plaudits for our people who operate at County and National level.
Finally, I would ask that you join me in thanking the our Secretary, Tony Alvis, for his unstinting support during what has been a very trying period in the Club’s history. Tony is the voice of reason, thoughtful comment and common-sense. He has now chosen to step down and I thank him for his massive contribution towards the future wellbeing of the Club. Filling this difficult role in Tony’s place will be Jayne Ashdown-Denny, currently heavily involved in the mini/midi section of the Club. I am sure she will be an asset to the Board and I look forward to working with her.
Exciting times indeed!
‘My Club, My Mates’