Drifters pay tribute to Gillespie as replacement search begins
Head coach departs to concentrate on degree
He was going to leave anyway, to concentrate on the master’s degree he is about to take, and director of rugby Stan Bannister paid tribute to his departing head coach.
He said: “Dan has done an excellent job here. He joined four years ago, after we last got promoted, and kept us up comfortably for three of those years.
“Every time we have been promoted previously, we have gone straight back down. We’re the smallest club in Bucks, so just being in Southern Counties North is an achievement, and staying there for four years is a first.
“Dan’s a good guy who would always take his job to heart, and we will miss his dulcet tones on the sidelines. We will also miss his wife, Steph, who was our first ever club physio and has been a star.”
By a quirk of fate, the team Drifters needed to beat to stay up were Marlow, from where Gillespie had joined Drifters and where he had been both captain and assistant head coach.
Not only did they need a bonus point win and a points difference swing of some 50 points, but they also needed to hope relegation rivals Thatcham lost and failed to get a bonus point.
But it was not to be, with tries from Sam Hawkridge and Andrew Milton not enough to prevent a 32-12 defeat, which proved academic anyway as Thatcham managed to beat Bicester.
As a final ignominy, Swindon College Old Boys, who have been propping up the table all season, managed to Beaconsfield 18-12 to leap over Drifters and send them to a bottom-place finish.
Bannister added: “There’s no doom and gloom. We took more than 50 people with us to Marlow and had a great night afterwards. We’ve been unlucky with injuries this season, but we’re looking forward to renewing rivalries with Slough again!”
Beaconsfield, who had for so long looked like promotion contenders, finished sixth in the end, while Chesham also finished sixth in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier following a last-day 13-0 defeat at Slough.
Action from Drifters against Marlow at the Riverwoods Drive Ground, Marlow