We understood between the clubs that we had 4 registrations 5 weeks prior to the start of the season for the Under 17 team. I organised a meeting to discuss the direction forward and I asked all players to meet at Boss James on a Tuesday night. One player, Harry De Wolf turned up. We discussed briefly what needed to happen. Brad Langdon and Pooch were behind the clubs needing an Under 17 team as Rovers Under 19 had 2 teams looming. Alistair Morris took the lead, a core group was identified and a coach needed.
We needed to commit to the league 10 days out for Round 1 and it was touch and go with a small band of boys training with the under 16 squad for 3 weeks. Cut a very long story short, the boys below have finished their junior careers in the very best possible way! How ironic that Harrison De Wolf was the first player as captain to lay his hand on the trophy.
These guys are proof that playing with mates is always the best tonic. A strong level of respect hovers large over these guys – Ben Pryor and Cooper Nolan lit up the park in the second quarter and the boys hung on at the final hurdle, these guys will remember this for a long time.
Bringing the Under 16 squads together in 2014 was one of the most satisfying experiences I have had in football ever. Stu Murray shared a vision and we are proud when watching 8 lads from that year now playing in the seniors at Rovers and it underlines how important it is to make sure we look after and nurture every child.
The decision to merge the clubs from Under 15 -17 has worked well now for 4 years. Both committees see great gains for all boys that have played under the East Sandy Rovers banner. We will continue to work with Zebbies from year to year and always make sure our youth have a game of football no matter what division or age group, boys or girls alike.
I must thank Rick Bierens and his committee at Zebbies. They share a vision that at one time between our clubs would have been unthinkable not so long ago, sharing knowledge about numbers and retention of players in the sport is working well.
To the work of Ralph Bergman: his tireless work along with his support staff at under 16 level was first class. These boys know what it is like to be treated always with respect and in an environment where you are challenged for your long-term benefit not just as a footballer but as a young man.
To Gareth and the Ladies of the Under 16 girls, watching your development from raw energy with minimal skill to a team that never stepped backwards and had a fighting spirit always spoke volumes, I can’t wait to see you play youth girls next year.
To David Grant, thanks Granty and Greg Miller for your total support. The initial decision to go from 1x D1 team that became 2 x D1 teams in Under 15, what a ride. Plenty said, double the action and experience for all that wanted the chance, no finals but every boys relaxed and enjoyed the greatest sport there is. Blue shorts, green shorts, who cares let’s just play. Thanks to Bomber Riley who gave his time and wisdom, the great man imparted plenty. Daniel Easson was a breath of fresh air, I hope he wants to go around again next year, thanks Dan, you and your D4 team loved the journey, I could tell!!
I won’t go through each age group as I feel we have done that before. I will point out that planning for next year has already started. End of year meetings for Under 11 and 13 for 2018 have already taken place or in the planning stage. What worked and what can we make better are all learning tools for a better experience and we are committed to that always.
Auskick pre-registrations for 2018 see us with 2 x under 8 teams confirmed with coaches lined up already. This not so long ago at Rovers was not thought possible. It comes as no surprise now as the committee under Jason Nicholl has evolved and still with plenty to achieve, one design and size does not fit all with team placement and grading within divisions – we have work to do here. The notice from Jason in his weekly feed last week said a commitment to 6 girls teams is planned. Jase and I discussed this during the Under 12 girls GF and what it would do for our club should the girls win.
I was asked on the beach whilst doing a boxing session this morning by a St Mary’s father what was the process was for his 10-year-old daughter to join Rovers next year. I told him to go away and leave me alone… Then the conversation with Jason came back to me fast, this is it, time to put the foot down and make our club the destination club. Three flags, great coaches following standards, an all-inclusive approach where no one will be knocked back from being a member of a club that has a clear vision, one that has RESPECT for all shareholders and continued development as the foremost important things.
SO THAT’S IT, 2017 DONE. I hope all members enjoyed the ride as much as I did. I hope all members will be back in 2018. The development of your child/children and that your family’s experience at Hampton Rovers means the utmost to your hardworking committee.
We wish everyone a safe and happy summer.
PASSION – TEAMWORK – FUN – RESPECT
SEE YOU ALL IN 2018