Are you excited yet, I am, finally a light at the end of a very long tunnel as the fixtures for the coming season have been released and what a tantalising bunch of games we have. You can view the Chiefs up and coming games HERE but for now I just wanted to point out a few highlights just to wet your appetite.
So the season begins on September 4th and yet again Barnstaple are on the road for their first game of the season, thankfully not as far as many of their trips will be but still a fair old jog along the M5 to Clifton, then its back home on 11th for the Chiefs first home game since 29th February 2020, that’s hang on don’t have enough toes, no competitive rugby at Pottington Road for 560 days, I think the lads have had a long enough break don’t you. Anyway this game is a must see as we welcome Westcliffe to our shores to exact revenge for that 2018/19 play-off loss to them at Southend
So there are some pretty long trips this season for the Chiefs including a lot of travel to the South East and Essex, two trips to the Midlands and of course that infamous flight to Guernsey which is on January 22nd. Yet these same teams have to travel west themselves and with the mighty Barum army in full voice I’m sure we will send them back with their ears ringing, especially those such as the Leicester Lions, Hinckley and Guernsey who will not have experienced the force.
Barnstaple Rugby’s Christmas lunch so going to be a fantastic day as we welcome Henley Hawks to Pottington road on the 4th December man that is going to be a packed out day and the last time Henley visited we won what was a very tight low scoring match 10-7. There are only three west country teams we face this season Clifton, Dings and of course Redruth it looks like everything else is 200+ miles away. Then it’s a fortnight off before the turnaround on January 8th so a nice rest for everyone to get hammered in.
For me I can’t wait to welcome Worthing back to Pottington Road and the trip with them to the Cornerhouse afterwards, what a great set of supporters that club has, great times. That game is on February 19th after we have visited them on 16th October and it would be awesome to get a few supporters there for that one, I’m definitely thinking about it.
And yet none of this would have been possible without the heroic unpaid work of our army of volunteers or the businesses that have stepped up to help out and I will have more about the works taking place at Pottington Road in the coming weeks but just as an example of what has been happening at BRFC over the past 15 months or more. Working within Covid Guidance throughout the Pandemic has been a challenge to the volunteers to keep on top of essential maintenance matters. As Guidance eased work in all areas has increased at a pace to such an extent that there is a very busy bunch of volunteers working on many projects.
The Groundforce Team (as I call them, remember the show) consisting of Tim (get the beers in) Hickman, Geoff (Lion King) Hayward and John (Fudgie) Sheehan led by our Head Groundsman Trevor (I am not Alan Titchmarsh) Wayborn have been hard at it Renovating the hedge separating the Bridge Field from the Training Pitch. Cutting out diseased trees, overgrown bramble and Hawthorn and carried away by South West Metals to be shredded for recycling. That as well as the continuing pitch maintance which I must say after seeing it tonight has never looked better.
The teams hard work has also helped create a wild flower garden along this hedgerow to support the Barnstaple in Bloom initiative with all the wild flower beds being prepared down here at BRFC. Hopefully bringing a lot more colour to the club grounds and brightening up everyone’s day. Many thanks also to T Marsh Groundworks for some great work.
Finally a new trees going in to hedge at Club. Thanks to St. John’s garden centre for supplying quality native trees. These are put in to replace dead trees and support the diverse wildlife at the club. Also thanks to Ashleigh Primary school who have grown 4 trees from seeds and they are now being planted to grow big and strong.
The Former Cricket Pavilion has been recognised as an asset requiring some TLC. Rotting barge boards, soffits and guttering is being replaced and the water run off collected to be used for irrigating the pitches and washing down equipment. John Gammon, Alan Watts, Jim Callachan and Trevor Shaddick form the working party for these tasks.
An Equipment Store has been built alongside the Tractor Shed to properly house the ground maintenance machinery we now need to keep the site in tip top condition. Life Member Max Faulkner and his son Andrew is owed a huge vote of thanks for creating this much needed shelter with the minimum of fuss. A father and son just quietly getting on with the job!
The Car Park Lighting Columns are rusting and are being replaced with new ones by a team led by Dave Horrell including Nigel Roberts and Brian Shaddick. When this task is completed, the team will be able to return to the job of replacing pitch perimeter rail posts damaged by the winter gales.
Main Grandstand – Major works to repair the end elevations of our beloved Grandstand is necessary to preserve this unique feature and is underway led by Club stalwart Stewart Chugg assisted by Willy Lehan and Ronnie Isaac. Many thanks to Dave Sloman for the carpentry and to Matt Bacon of Advanced Scaffolding for providing the extensive scaffolding needed.
The main Clubhouse is also in for some long overdue refurbishment and if funds allow, we will be looking to upgrade the lighting system and flooring before finally decorating the main clubroom. With luck and a fair wind, we hope to have the work completed for a grand opening when all Covid restrictions are lifted.
Funding for most of this work has come from a generous RFU Grant, for which we are very grateful, Club reserves and well-wishers’ donations of time and materials. Coming out of these difficult times the Club is looking forward positively to next season which in itself will be challenging with the Chiefs considerable travelling costs to be met with no financial help from the RFU. Take a look at where the fixture list takes us. From Redruth to Leicester to Southend-on-Sea and of course Guernsey. A big exciting challenge that we hope our brilliant supporters will appreciate and help us to send a team that’s able to proudly represent us.