It would be remiss of me to open this briefing with anything less than another Big ‘Thank You’ to the Albion 2020 Heroes, who donated the magnificent sum of £31,042. In just 28 days 215 people stepped up to the plate supporting our club with their donation to our cause.
Rugby is a physical game of high impact contact, collisions and raw power. To the uninitiated, it might appear that genuine animosity and acrimony exist between contesting teams. Nothing, however, is further from the truth. The respect, fellowship and lifelong friendships that grow between opposing players and fans is unique to our sport and rugby folk all over the world.
I say this because fans of Bath, Coventry and other clubs have supported our Albion 2020 Heroes fund with their good wishes and cash donations. The rugby family – How good is that?!
Under the cloud of Coronavirus, I have had little actual rugby developments to report on the playing front. That all changed last week when Damian Welsh landed at Brickfields to survey the facilities and talk rugby with the management group and me. It was a very good and productive meeting.
Damian clearly understood our vision to build an aspirational culture working to achieve rugby excellence in an environment where everyone cares for the cause. A culture of belonging to something where every member counts and every individual matters.
Walking around the pitch Damian was keen to stress his instruction to have the biggest playing area possible, as he favours a high-intensity expansive game. Music to our ears hey? Physical, fast-flowing and wide-ranging ‘Total Rugby’ is what our fans want to see. Exciting, open winning rugby puts bums on seats and is a core element to our future success.
Damian is a young and ambitious coach who shared ideas and initiatives of his own to advance the club and his career by ‘Making Albion Great Again’. It was a hugely encouraging meeting.
The news gets better with Harry Williams confirming his continued involvement with Albion coaching in the forthcoming season. As an international front row, Harry’s playing credentials are top drawer. We are fortunate indeed to have his specialist skills to share with our players.
News that Harry was named Gallagher Community Player of the Month for his contribution to the local community, further confirms that he is the type of man we are seeking to share and join in with our culture and vision for the future.
My good news continues with confirmation that we can erect floodlights on our training pitch. Our talented ground staff do a great job to prepare a quality playing surface for matchdays, but the demands of training on the match pitch on dark winter nights has a cost. Once the floodlights are installed, we will be able to run full coaching sessions on the training pitch allowing the matchday surface to recover and be in great shape for those big Saturday games.
With regard to the ‘Business of Business, Chris Bentley and I continue to meet with and share our vision for Albion to build mutually beneficial partnerships and successful associations with commercial sponsors. We see Albion as an important and integral member of the Ocean City business community.
Building mutually supportive commercial partnerships is a core value Chris and I are building into the culture of our club. We are keen to share these values with our sporting neighbours at Argyle and Raiders. Indeed, our door is open to Plymouth’s other sporting clubs to discuss and examine joint initiatives to the mutual benefit of clubs and community.
We have the potential to build a major sporting centre of excellence at Brickfields. Ambitious, yes, but an area we are keen to explore and develop. We have the space to extend, develop and build.
A specialist human performance and fitness centre for the use of all Plymouth’s sporting talent is high on our list of priorities, be they football, basketball, rugby players or track and field athletes, a specialist human performance, sports injury and rehab facility would prove a major asset in the Ocean City.
Logically we are laying plans to develop and improve our own sporting stadium. Again, space and facility are available. I am minded of the multi-function stadiums one finds in Europe. An indoor sporting arena would open the door to a multitude of opportunity. I am sure the notion will not be missed by Raiders who know just how big Basketball is in many European countries.
Looking north of here to Exeter, we see the significant benefits of incorporating events, conference and corporate hospitality facility into the structure of Sandy Park. Brickfields offers Plymouth the opportunity for the growth and development of such a facility.
Keeping our feet firmly on the ground, we continue to move forward with prudence and caution born out of the experience of recent years. We still have a wait before the coronavirus lockdown is released and we are given the all-clear to commence playing again, but that day is getting closer.
Our ambition and aspirations are great, and we fully understand that we have a long way to go. ‘To fail to plan – is to plan to fail ‘that is certainly not our intention. We continue to work hard in the back office progressively rolling out and implementing our vision to Make Albion Great Again, both on and off the field.