After two weeks of freezing temperatures had decimated the local league programme, I was looking forward to seeing some grass-roots rugby again when I visited Broadband-Gt Yarmouth RFC last weekend. The occasion was a Volunteer Recognition event, the first organised by the club, before the second team played Fakenham in the Norfolk Merit Table.
It was a mild morning when I left Colchester but when I reached Gt Yarmouth I was reminded that Broadland has its own microclimate so the wind had strengthened while the temperature had dropped. However, it was temporarily forgotten as we were greeted by a curry expertly prepared by club President Geoff Hawkes.
The volunteer event was the brainchild of Andy Ruddick and chairman Asa Morrison, helped by a £100 donation from Eastern Counties presented by CB Volunteer Coordinator Greg Underwood. When I visited the club a couple of seasons ago there were lots of people doing lots of jobs but it was a little uncoordinated, but under Asa’s chairmanship the volunteer effort has got more organised.
As a result the club has now run two summer Beach Rugby tournaments as well as Youth Rugby Festivals over Easter and has plans to make improvements to the clubhouse and training facilities. Husband and wife team Russ and Pamela Clarke have taken on some key roles but it was particularly encouraging to see so many young volunteers involved at Broadland.
Click here for the press release including names of all those recognised for their efforts
On the field the club were promoted at the end of last season but they have struggled to make an impact in Eastern Counties One winning just one game so far. It is likely that they will be relegated, but next season should see the players and coach Simon Ruddick learn from the experience of playing at a higher level and I would expect to see Broadland in the top four at the end of 2012/13.
More importantly the club has managed to field three sides twice this season, something many clubs in Eastern Counties haven’t done for years, and all the more impressive when you consider they compete for players with their more illustrious neighbours Lowestoft and Yarmouth RFC just down the coast.
Although I was looking forward to watching some rugby I confess that I only lasted half an hour before the biting wind and then the rain forced me indoors to watch through the window from the warmth of the clubhouse. Playing in these conditions was one thing, but I was very impressed to see the first team squad out training during the game which spoke volumes about their commitment.
Click here for some pictures of the game
Chatting to club members during the afternoon it was clear how proud they are of their club and their part in the Great Yarmouth community. You can’t help but get a good feeling about what is happening at Broadland and with their growing band of volunteers the club can only go from strength to strength.
Related article – 21 April 2011 Eastern Counties win Presidents XV award for Volunteers