Dear fellow members, guests and visitors
It is an enormous honour to be elected by you to be the President of our great club for the 2020/21 season. Little did I think that when Terry Boyle convinced me to come to Station Rd. to play my rugby at the start of the 1986/87 season that it would culminate with this position. The club has meant a huge amount to me, I played up until relatively recently and while never the greatest player I'm proud to have worn the Royal Blue, White and Emerald Hoops in 4 different decades. I have made so many lifelong friends through the club and I greatly appreciate the messages of support from so many, both local and from former team-mates around the globe. Not least of those friends I've made through the club is my wonderful wife Derville. Her and my sons (Matthew and Noah) have been extremely supportive and without them I wouldn't be taking on this role.
Amongst my most enjoyable time in the club were the 10 or so years I spent coaching, helping to bring the 2003s along from the start of their rugby journey. The friends I made along that journey with fellow coaches and parents will never be forgotten and I'm very grateful for all their support. It's great to see so many of that team that started back together 12 years ago now turn into such fine players and young men - they've come a long way and I'm very proud of each and every one of them, I can envisage them being the backbone of the club in the coming years along with those years around them. I would encourage any of you to get involved in MY Suttonians, not only is it our future but it’s ultimately extremely rewarding.
It is normal in these paragraphs to lay out the plans for the season but this is proving very difficult as we face into a season like no other. Rugby has only just restarted at club level but even at that in strange circumstances with no dressing rooms or showers, no spectators or indeed a welcoming clubhouse to dissect the day's performances. Hopefully we can begin to leave this dreaded Covid behind us and return to some semblance of normality. When we do get to return to the clubhouse I hope you'll all enjoy the work of the Elves and the Shoemaker - while the country was in varying stages of lockdown Martin Griffin, Brendan Martin and a large team of volunteers have transformed the bar and function room - a huge thank-you to them all, far too many to list but Martin himself along with Brendan and Jim Dowling are worthy of special mention.
On the pitch, we've just had a very successful if ultimately truncated season. On their first year back in Leinster League 1A the men’s 1st XV finished a very creditable 3rd in the league and by doing so qualified for the Irish Junior Cup for the first time (date for the diary, Saturday 2nd of January 2021 away vs. Dromore - sorry, I don't set the dates) while the 2nd's finished comfortably mid-table. Our women's 1st XV continue to go from strength to strength and although their season was incomplete they were lying in 5th place in the Energia AIL. The club has been ring-fenced for the next 2 seasons in the revamped AIL and I've no doubt we will only get better. A measure of this is that we also fielded a women's 2nd XV last season and they too were having an excellent season. Likewise, none of our Mini or Youth teams were able to complete their seasons but the sector has been a great source of silverware over recent seasons and I've no doubt will be again as evidenced by the hive of activity that Sunday mornings have already returned to.
We have a number of new faces on the committee this year and they're all bursting with ideas. But ideas aren't unique to them. We're open to anything (within reason) so if you have an idea for a fundraiser, social evening or anything that might enhance the club and how it operates don't be shy, come forward with it. The club as you know is run by volunteers and there is always room for more be it in a coaching/management capacity or on the general day to day running of the entity. Don't be one of those people who says "somebody" should do something, be the somebody!
I'm delighted to say that our adult rugby continues to be directed by 2 of the hardest working men in the club (Ronnie Maher and John McCourt) and that under them in Peter and Robert we have 2 of the finest head coaches there are. We have new Captains this season in Tom de Jongh and Lauren Farrell McCabe and I'm sure you'll join me in wishing them every success. Further, as we approach our centenary season I'm delighted that Andy Johnston has agreed to be the Convenor for same, all thoughts and proposals welcome.
Special mention must be made at this time to the 2 men who have enabled us to return to the field. Jim Briscoe (Covid Safety Officer) and Gerry Cadden (Covid Compliance Officer) have put a huge amount of time and effort into ensuring that we are in a position to “return to play”. Beneath them, each team now has a Compliance Officer, in most circumstances an additional task for the manager. To Jim and Gerry in particular, a very big thank-you on behalf of us all.
So here's to a season of whatever it may be – we are in unprecedented times in our lifetime and my ultimate wish would be that we all stay safe and look after each other – if we do that the rugby and the club will fall into place. I hope to meet as many of you as I can during the year and I hope to make new friends and rekindle old ones. Always remember, it's your club, support it whenever and wherever you can be it U6s or adults, on the pitch and off
Yours in rugby
Fág an Bealach