No one could have predicted the unprecedented year we’ve just experienced. This time last year we had everything rugby; we were playing rugby, watching rugby and enjoying each other’s company socially, before, during and after games. We were looking forward to our First XV challenging for the league; our Ladies & Girls sections were continuing to grow; our Academy was proving a great success; our senior teams were looking forward to the cup competitions, in which we have been so successful; we’d developed one of the most successful O2 Touch setups; established a growing Walking Rugby family and our Youth/Age Grade rugby were continuing to go from strength to strength; Blaydon RFC and our ‘One Team Blaydon’ (OTB) ethos was in full swing, then lockdown and rugby was suspended.
12 months on and it feels surreal. No rugby for over 9 months. The club house is closed and we have just moved into Tier 4, with no short term expectation of those things changing. This has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years for me as your Chairman but at the same time, one of my proudest, as people from the Blaydon rugby family rally round to support the club. That continued support will be key in helping our recovery and growth, once this virus is beaten, which it will be!
My thoughts are with club members and their families who have experienced first-hand the hardships of this past year, be that ill health, economic challenges or general frustrations with lockdown. I also sympathise with the many business owners who have supported the club, who are now suffering an extended period of financial concern.
My sincere thanks go to the Club’s Committee and Management who, whilst being frustrated that rugby has been suspended, continue to work hard to ensure that the club is ready for a return to rugby and our other business activities that enable us to support rugby at Blaydon RFC. As a committee we’ve had to make some tough decisions this year, financially the club is in a sound position, we’ve reduced costs where we can, we’ve taken advantage of a number of lines of support in the form of various grants/loans and received a magnificent response during the Members’ Appeal earlier this year. We are consuming some funds that could have otherwise been used for important improvement projects, but we’ll have to look for alternative options to fund those at a later time.
I can’t thank enough the efforts of the volunteers who always put so much into the club with many helping to keep the club running through these difficult times, including the fantastic work during the summer to tidy up the grounds, cut the hedges, maintain the trees and flower beds.
Finally, I want to thank the players in all of the disciplines/teams at the Club. Your endurance and determination to be ready for return to rugby is greatly appreciated. When we get back to competition I am confident Blaydon RFC will continue to grow and triumph. Please stay as fit as you possibly can to be ready for that day. Until then I ask you check on your teammates and ensure they are getting through this period and let us know if you have any concerns we could help with.
When this is all over, we will bring our Blaydon Rugby family together to celebrate our return, quite how, we’ve still to work out, any suggestions greatly appreciated. Meanwhile I wish you all a happy New Year and all my best wishes to you and your families for 2021 and hope that all our lives will return to normality in the near future.