Following the 40th Anniversary Dinner in 2013, it became evident that we have a large number of former members, who still hold the club in very high regard, and more importantly could provide a huge resource in ideas and practical help. I therefore contacted the Board of the club and offered to act as a contact for this group, with the aim of providing advice, support and planning of events and issues outside the day to day running of the club. Terms of reference were agreed and the Development Group of John Sevier, Stephen Dexter, Paul Walsh, Clem Davies (a former player, Treasurer of the club and now Financial Director of London Welsh) and I was thus formed to represent the former players and in providing assistance to the Board.
We have met on numerous occasions and provided advice on streamlining the administration of the club which is currently in operation. More recently we have initiated negotiations for an extension to the lease on the club house, greater security of primary use of the Recreation Ground, advertising around the pitch and established that the Parish Council have no issues with extending the clubhouse upwards on sideways.
As a result of the positive attitude from the Parish Council towards a possible clubhouse extension, we have had a discussion with members of the Scouts to see whether they would be prepared to move their new premises away from our clubhouse to allow a ground floor extension. Those discussions were very positive and there could be mutual benefit in working with them to secure the best outcome for both organisations. In addition we have discussed with Nigel Greenhalgh, a former club player, who is a director of a professional organisation involved in sports facilities and their funding the possibilities of grants and where they might come from to assist in a clubhouse development.
The increase in population arising from the 5,500 scheduled new houses in Grove and Wantage will leave the clubhouse and playing fields in the centre of Grove within easy walking distance for most of the community. This gives the club a great opportunity to be a community club and to be seen as such. Consequently this suggests more facilities to capture this market including additional social areas, bigger changing rooms for both males and females, storage facilities etc.
However, it was felt that, at this stage, it was pointless to discuss any specific detail regarding size/style/cost/position of an extended/new building, as there was too much “groundwork” to be considered and completed before reaching that stage. What we did do was to recommend the following:
• The need to raise money for a specific Development Fund and suggest a target figure of £20,000 pa. If we are to access potential money from the various agencies we need to be seen to raising money ourselves and any proposed funder/donor will need to see our accounts.
The 2015 accounts are likely to show another deficit (our fifth in a row and eleventh out of the last fourteen) and this must change. To this end we suggest four fund raising functions and are in the process of organising them, once we have Parish Council permission and support. These would be in addition to the successful Mini Rugby Tournament and November Fireworks Night where the cash raised here would be for the areas they traditionally support.
A Colts Seven-a-side Tournament in September 2015
A hundred club which will be advertised by September and will run throughout the year
A giant Car Boot sale in the Spring of 2016 to be held on Wasbrough Field
A Grove/Wantage Extravaganza in August 2016 to be held on the Recreation Ground
• Involvement with the local business community to highlight the clubs future ambition and to recruit possible members with a proven business background.
• Club funds to be allocated, along with sponsorship from the business community to foster closer relationships with our local school to encourage the establishment of a rugby development officer. This will eventually generate competitive sides, playing on a regular basis in King Alfred’s Academy and consequently raising the standard at our club and providing more players, with better basic rugby skills for the future.
The aim of these incentives is to provide a better, bigger clubhouse with improved facilities which can be enjoyed by us all, as well as generating more cash in future years. It will also cement the community aspect of our club, which is essential for our future and generate more and better young players. These will, in turn, enable us to secure and maintain a position as major players in South West rugby for the years ahead.
I am aware that this is an ambitious list of aims, but am convinced that if we all contribute in helping to make it happen, it will succeed. We will be asking for help from all of you and hope that you will enthusiastically agree.
Grove RFC Old Boys (GOBS)
Another consequence of the 40th Anniversary Dinner is we now have a considerable data base of former players and supporters of Grove RFC. This has been used from time to time to inform this group of pre match lunches, significant fixtures, club news etc.
It has therefore been suggested that we make this group of past players, supporters etc., into a more formal and recognised group. The GOBS would have a polo shirt and club tie recognising their membership and past efforts for the club and would also have a regular newsletter with up to date news on members past and present, plus old photographs and memorabilia. It would establish a new support group for the club that would have current members, players who have lost touch with the club and members who have moved away but would still like a tangible supportive link to Grove as their old rugby club. We would also encourage all GOBS members to join Grove RFC. More information about becoming a member of the GOBS will be available before the end to the season.
President - Grove RFC Ltd.