I still find it incredible to think that the 11 year old boy who joined Stockton RFC, would be here in 2023, as Club Chair ushering us into our 150th year.
It goes without saying how proud I am to be your Chair in my 10th year, and in such a momentous one too. I want to take this opportunity to thank you, and everyone involved in our club who make it so special, the volunteers, supporters, families, carers, guardians and players who make Stockton RFC what it is today
Two years ago, just prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Times Newspaper, described SRFC as as one of the top 4 community clubs in the Country. Ordinary people achieving extraordinary things, a grassroots rugby club tucked away in the North East of England.
Like many clubs , the struggles, post Covid as people adjust to a “ new normal’ have impacted on SRFC , however we will still manage to field 23 sides this season, a credit to the coaches and players who make this happen.
Our move to Grangefield 7 years ago triggered a remarkable resurgence, one that we must continue to build upon after almost two seasons lost to the pandemic. The future is in our relationship with our local Academies and the wider community. Our recent success has been built upon our willingness to engage with local networks and to recognise that rugby must ‘ reach out ‘ to the community in order to survive and thrive.
Our partnerships with Grangefield Academy and Stockton Cricket Club, and more recently Yarm Wolves ARLFC have shown our willingness to embrace new opportunities, rugby and society have changed dramatically in recent years , and we must move with the times. It’s no longer the default option to play male rugby on Saturday’s at 3pm, women and girls rugby, non contact ( touch ) rugby, Friday night veterans and indeed league games all reflect these changes, and in my opinion, this can only be for the better, the more we broaden our appeal, the greater the chance of celebrating another 150 years.
There are too many people to thank, to do justice here, however I hope this year will give us an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, to remember those we’ve lost, and whose endeavours helped to build the foundations of our club.
Our facilities continue to improve, with the new hospitality area and stand next to the 1st XV pitch due to be completed. The facilities at Grosvenor Road playing fields are second to none, and we’ve secured further funding to develop these, alongside our partners Yarm Wolves. There are plans to refurbish the clubhouse and we are always grateful to Stockton CC for welcoming us to the Grangefield Ground and being able to call it our home.
The year will bring some exciting events off the field, as well as on the field, where we are adjusting to our first promotion in over 30 years. With a 150th celebration dinner planned, a reunion of the Centenary squad and indeed all our past players and administrators, a fireworks event and New Years Eve Ball, plus the prospect of hosting some of the Counties best players, male and female.
And finally I’ll leave you with the words of our former president Dr Tim McCarthy, 25 years ago, as prevalent today as they were then:
“No one can foretell the future. What state Stockton Rugby Club will be in another 25 years is impossible to predict.
One thing is certain, without the continued support of everyone concerned with Stockton Rugby Club, the club will not survive, with so many attractions outside the game, it is vital that everyone works for the benefit of the club.
With that support, the continued healthy state of our Mini and Junior sections and the continued success of the Colts, it augers well for the future.
Let us hope Stockton Rugby Club will survive for another 25 years.
The future is in your hands “
Yours in Rugby