Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to Beverley for the final home League match of another enthralling season for our First XV as we continue to ensure that we avoid dropping into the relegation area of Yorkshire 1. Beverley currently sit in 5th position in the table and are certain of a top 6 finish this season with Dinnington 10 points adrift in 7th position. A look at results through the season suggests that Beverley probably feel themselves capable of better things, but some surprising results away from home against lower ranked teams have cost them dear. Recent thumping wins at home to Middlesbrough and Crossleyans were either side of an unexpected defeat away at Keighley. On a personal level I would like to think that their achilles heel will hamper them again today but I feel certain that they will be doing their utmost to ensure it doesn’t.
In many ways that sort of scenario sums up our First XV too. We have seen some terrific performances in recent victories against Brodleians and Pontefract which seemed to be taking us to safety, but then, when presented with a chance to nail it down with a game at Rishworthians, we were unable to drive ourselves over the finish line. The frustrating lack of consistency is hopefully something that the boys will reflect on both individually and collectively once our position in Yorkshire 1 is confirmed, but there is no doubt in my mind that the number of changes in personnel due to injuries and “other reasons for absence” have made for a difficult time for the coaching staff thoughout the season. However we must always remember that we play at a level that is regarded as Social Rugby, we never have, nor ever will, pay players for playing for us, and yet every player that pulls on a Selby shirt goes onto the pitch absolutely prepared to do their utmost for the team and the Club.
In many ways March has been a tremendously successful month for the Club both from a playing perspective and I hope (if Farmers Day and Openfield Lunch are anything to go by) financially. On an individual level I would pass on my congratulations to Eddie Brown and Adam Leetham on their selection for the Yorkshire Under 20s Squad (even though the fixture against East Midlands was subsequently called off), to Max Wotton who was selected to play for the Yorkshire Under 17s but chose to play for our Senior Colts in their Plate Final at Huddersfield (Good on ‘im!) and finally to Sam Pocklington on being awarded a first Professional Contract with Doncaster Knights (his dad Jamie assures me that Sam still regards Selby as his “Home Club”).
On a team level I have already mentioned the terrific performances by the First team against Brods and Ponte and hope we are able to finish the season off on a high with 2 more top quality games today and away at Hullensians next week. In my last set of Programme notes I congratulated our Senior Colts on clinching top spot in their League and I now wish to say another public “Well done” to Harrison Green as Captain, his squad of players and the coaching staff for completing an excellent double by beating Scunthorpe in the Fianl of the Yorkshire Plate Competition by 45 points to 5. Cup glory is also very much in the minds of our Third XV who made it through to the Semi Final of the North Yorkshire trophy last weekend with a hard fought win away at Ribblesdale (more importantly, though, they ensured the Sheepsh***ers Trophy stays at Sandhill Lane!). My trip to support our Senior Colts meant that I was unable to represent the Club at the Yorkshire Under 17s match at Sandhill Lane, but it is another feather in our Club’s cap that we continue to be one of Yorkshire’s “go to” Clubs when the Yorkshire Committee are looking for somewhere to host a fixture, safe in the knowledge that we offer the facilities, the welcome and the service that make them want to return season after season.
Today we host our annual Sponsors’ Event pre match in the Clubhouse and we are always grateful for the support that they offer to the Club and I trust they will enjoy their afternoon with us as we offer a heartfelt “Thank You” for continuing to help us to fund the improvements to our grounds and facilities that we believe our members deserve. (If we are lucky we might also be able to twist a few arms and get them to sign up again for next season!)
In conclusion, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of our supporters and Club members for the way they have conducted themselves over the course of the season and for the way they have got behind the boys on the pitch. As Don Bramley pointed out to me at Huddersfield during the Colts’ Final, my notes throughout the season have consistently ended with a gentle reminder to everybody taking part in or spectating this afternoon’s game to please show respect to the match officials, players from both sides and other spectators. I personally have been proud to be associated with our groups of supporters home and away, safe in the knowledge that they will represent our Club positively at all times (clearly a small number of Ponte supporters failed to read or act on the message a couple of weeks ago).
I still firmly believe that there is nothing better than a hard fought game of Rugby played out in front of a knowledgeable and friendly crowd and would inist that we all have to play our part in ensuring that everybody here this afternoon can go home afterwards having enjoyed some great entertainment, whether a player, flag man, referee, water boy, allickadoo or a member of the paying public. We have a duty to all visitors to Sandhill Lane to ensure that their afternoon is not ruined by the actions of one or two individuals and that everybody adheres to the RFU Code of Conduct, so for one last time this season, I would ask that everybody makes sure that they behave in a manner befitting our great game.
With my best wishes for the Summer, I already look forward to September and the chance to do it all again!!