Drawing on the End of Saason Awards and Presentation, Trevor Nicholson, Chairman, presents his Chairman’s Report 2019
We are the Champions! It has been a very special six years for me as Chairman. I have played at this club for 36 wonderful years, was honoured to be 1st XV skipper in 1985, following Stu Coleman’s dad Larry, and enjoyed several heady seasons as an Acorn, but last season topped the lot.
Six years ago, as a committee we had a vision….Not for the ones, twos and threes to win their leagues. But they did! Not for the Gents and the Acorns to be league runners up and Plate winners! But they were! Not for the Under 18s, 17s, 15s, 14s, 13s and 12s to win their leagues and cup competitions. But they did!
No, the vision we had was to be One Club, a proper Rugby Club where seniors and juniors are equally important, and get to know each other through coaching sessions, watching internationals and supporting each other on the touchline. A Club where parents and partners are welcome, not just as extras, but to join in and enjoy what has been a male preserve for too long.
We aim to be an amateur Club run professionally. We first set out our stall in 2013 after the members made it clear in an overwhelming vote that we would not pay anyone to play for Sevenoaks- that will not change on our watch. You could say it was a risky strategy, certainly rare at this level as nobody wants to slip down the leagues.
Would the 1st XV survive when many other clubs were offering cash to test the loyalty of players? In that first year, 2013, we came 9th (out of 12) in London 2 South East, and Brighton won the league. Six years later, with a playing and coaching strategy applied on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the Club, we have been promoted twice and are now in the National Leagues, among the top 100 clubs out of 2,000 in the UK.
I congratulate Adam and his coaching team, the definition of driven passion, and Stu who has been an amazing skipper who certainly deserves a brief rest after becoming a dad… surely a career to be continued as a player.
They have calmly told us how things will be in a senior squad open to anyone who wants to join the forty odd mates who train twice a week, ending with unprecedented success for all five senior teams.
Thanks to all the players, in every team, for your hard work and camaraderie- the increasing numbers of supporters, culminating in a fairy tale finale at Thurrock, is testimony to the spirit here. You have all helped create it and deserve to enjoy it!
Hats off as always to Pip Woolacott and Bill Park, running the Gents and Acorns, not only to field strong sides, but also to complete the senior winning full house.
The juniors have a fantastic leader in Danny Jones; their success just goes on and on, with a very big shout out to the 90 odd qualified junior coaches who all play their part in passing on our great game to boys and girls from all schools and backgrounds, confident that they are being properly taught the right values and attitude at Sevenoaks.
The Club belongs to all of us, and we do it for fun; even with the recent inevitable rise in subs, (which are now properly aligned to costs), when you consider the quality of facilities and coaching, it is the best value for money of any sports club in the area, and it is crucial for cash flow that everyone pays on time.
May I pay tribute to everyone that gives their time to our club- from Derek and his Field Stewards to Viz on fixtures, Alan Crane for his Refs, Clarky on Child Protection… there really are too many to mention, so to all of you Thank You.
There will be the usual Thirsty Thank You barrel for club volunteers at the beginning of the season.
To my friends on the Committee, Thanks so much to you all (we are all learning to pick up the phone when an email just will not do…).
We are rugby to the core, and we love everything about the game and our Club and that's why we give a career-threatening amount of time to it. We are very grateful to all our sponsors, in particular to loyal headliners Savills and Conway.
We believe we now deliver even better value for money to them, as we have the great benefit this year of Danny Jones’ wife Jane doing a fantastic job, not only persuading sponsors to support the club, but also making sure we fulfill our obligations to them.
I’ve been on a few rugby tours, but nothing quite like our debut junior tour to Great Yarmouth this year. Thank you so much Faye and Karen for the Nicholson family’s eye-opening experience of Oaks On Safari, and to Hendo, Hoggy and all the U7 coaches for coaching the twins all season.
We continue to support the Quinn Estates Planning Application for a new residential-led mixed-use village near Knockholt, which would give our Club and Sevenoaks Hockey Club first class facilities completely under our own control for the first time ever. We are conscious that this will be a long drawn out process, so updates will appear on the club website from time to time.
One final tribute, to my old friend our Director of Rugby, Roger McKerlie, for an extraordinary five year feat of dedication, passion, vision and resilience in not only achieving and hopefully maintaining the highest standard of rugby that this club has ever played, but also continuing to help deliver our One Club dream.
To use Rog’s favourite management speak, we are delighted to watch the One Club ethos ‘cascade’ right through to supporters, sponsors, members and particularly- opponents.
It has been a remarkable season, and you have all achieved so much. Whatever results next year brings, we hope we have laid the foundations for our club to grow naturally in the tradition of grassroots rugby football, while maintaining a fierce competitive edge- and continue to flourish in the unique fellowship the amateur game offers.