Ryan’s men in tip-top shape for big kick-off
IT’S the big kick-off this Saturday – and what a cracker to look forward to at Waterloo Road. Southport RFC welcome the Easthambased Anselmians from the Wirral peninsula, a club with equal ambition and one which will be looking to put down a marker from word go.
Last season Southport took the honours with two emphatic and well-earned triumphs against a team threatened with relegation.
But the noises from over the water suggest that this season Anselmians will be a completely different proposition.
Likewise the home team – the club has been a hive of activity during the close season with the players working to a schedule meticulously set out by Bill Nichol and new head coach Neil Ryan.
Ryan inherits a wonderful legacy from Nichol with a strengthened first XV squad led by inspirational skipper Joe Mawdsley comprising a cocktail of young but established first-teamers infused by an exciting mix of new signings and up and coming Colts, with one or two old heads to steady the ship.
Ryan will be looking for his charges to go up several notches to iron out the weaknesses from last season, notably a need for strength with numbers in depth and resilience against some of the more established clubs.
The lads will need this in what will be an even more competitive South Lancashire & Cheshire Division One than last season and what a well matched league this is with some really mouth-watering fixtures to look forward to.
And none more so than at 3pm this Saturday afternoon on a pitch that is looking lush and perfect.
It will be home alone for the firsts as the seconds travel the short distance for a neighbourly chat with Tarleton’s second-team whilst the thirds take the ferry across the Mersey to Oldershaw’s second XV.
With a healthy one-club mentality, there is no room for complacency and all shirts are up for grabs with chances for all to catch the eye in training and during games.
Likewise the Colts who will be in the 50mph zone down the M6 to their counterparts at Crewe & Nantwich, but hopefully in the fast lane once they arrive.
They have certainly worked exceedingly hard over the summer with excellent numbers and attitude at training topped by an outstanding 71-7 win at Preston Grasshoppers last Sunday.
If this result is anything to go by they will be a force to be reckoned with, not least as the players strive to integrate into the senior teams.
Not that things have been quiet off the pitch either.
As ever the club thrives on the back of support from volunteers and sponsors. The club is thrilled that longstanding benefactors Nationwide Produce Ltd and an array of others no matter how big or small have now been joined by another Southport-based business EFT Group.
Chairman Steve Olive commented: “We pride ourselves on being a success- ful local Community Club, so it is great that we have been able to conclude a four-year partnership with EFT Group, a local business success story led by Adam Watts a current member and past SRFC player.
“After the first year EFT Group will be the main ‘front of shirt’ sponsor on the playing shirt for all 500-plus playing members of Southport RFC.
“They will be taking over from Nationwide, who have been the main shirt sponsor for many years, and the club extends its thanks and appreciation to Nationwide for the fantastic support they have given the club over the years.”
He added: “We are delighted that EFT Group are committed to working with the club to offer real ‘off the pitch’ development opportunities for our young players”
The club is looking forward to hosting all sponsors on Saturday and is hoping to announce other new deals and initiatives in the coming weeks.
But for now, everything is focused on the job in hand at 3pm.
New head coach Neil Ryan engaging with Southport players at training last week.