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1 year ago By Graham Ellis

It was the highlight of the social calendar on Saturday 3 June as 320 people put on their glad rags to turn the Floral Hall red, black & amber.

Chairman Steve Olive extended a very warm welcome to the Ball to everyone especially new guests this year. He started by saying a big thank you to Sue Astwood who has again worked tirelessly to organize this evening.

Steve then gave a review of the season

“We talk often of the importance of ‘One Club’ and that is never more important than when players are transitioning from Junior to Senior rugby. So many players are lost to the game if that transition is not effectively managed. So I delighted to welcome to this year’s Ball our Colts and U 18 girls . Welcome and I hope you have a great evening!!

“I finished my speech last year with the news that we had just been anointed as Lancashire Junior Club of the Year. Well it’s pleasing to note that the accolades did not stop there. We also won Sefton Sports Club of the Year; the 1st team won the award for Sefton team of the Year and the icing on the cake –well that was a phone call I received from Twickenham to tell us that the 1st team were finalists in the National Team of the Year at the National Rugby Awards to be held at Twickenham.

“Thanks to the generosity of two of our sponsors , Fusco’s and Enda and Ramada Plaza, 22 of us were able to have a great night at the Headquarters. Unfortunately we didn’t win but all in all a fantastic end to the season.

“But the great thing about this Club is that we have reached that happy state where we don’t stand still. The current season has had many highlights. The membership of our mini and junior section increased to 346 –up 22 on the prior year. 350 minis and their parents invaded the Lake District on their Easter tour and from the look of the returning parents had a great time. Our Junior section is showing incredible strength. The U 13’s TEN yes TEN in the Merseyside Development Programme; the U 14’s reached the semi final of the Lancashire Vase; the U 15’s became joint winners of the Lancashire Vase and as importantly went undefeated at the Southport Sports Tours weekend winning their home competition for the first time. The U16’s-well its difficult to know what not to say about this outstanding group - 12 players in the Lancashire Squad, 5 of them in the A squad, including the Captain, 7 in the B squad including the Captain. Losing finalists in the 2015/16 Lancashire Cup Final lessons were clearly learned and the team again found themselves contesting the Lancashire Cup Final. This time away at Fylde against –yes you guessed it-Fylde. No hesitation this time though. A tremendously professional and dominant performance saw them triumph 29-14. Ladies and Gentleman that is the first time in the 145 year history of Southport Rugby Club that one of our Junior teams has won the Lancashire Cup. A truly fantastic performance –please show your appreciation for the team, the coaches, the parents and of course the players-Southport U 16’s.. Truly Outstanding.

“Now not to be out done we come to the Colts. We have not had a Colts team for a year or so and this year ran a Junior Colts –U17 team. With a squad of only 19 they were always going to be pushed but boy did they over achieve. Semi finalists in the Lancashire Cup, just losing to Liverpool Collegiate they were then entered in the National Shield , went on to beat Percy Park from the North East and win the Northern Shield before finally losing out in the National Semi Finals. Another great achievement.

“In this season we started, in conjunction with West Park St Helens, a girls U13, U15 and U18 team all of whom performed exceptionally well. The girls U 18 team won National U18 Area 5 Championship and were semi finalists in the National U 18 Cup. Not bad for a first year.

“So the future of the Club is strong. But so is the present. Our ladies finished joint top of their League this year and I am delighted to report that they have been promoted 2 levels into North 2 –the National Leagues. A massive and exciting step up. Playing only 2 levels below the newly formed Ladies Super League.

“On the men’s side all three senior teams faced tough competition in their respective Leagues. Matters were not helped by the senior men suffering an injury crisis of frankly crazy proportions. We have over 90 adult male players in the Club. On at least two occasions this season we struggled to field 45 players on a Saturday. This had the most severe effect on the 3rd team who, having been promoted last year, find themselves returning to play in North 4 next season. A great big thank you and no small measure of respect to those players who thought their Saturday afternoon playing days were behind them but at short notice turned out to keep the thirds going. Fantastic!

“ The 2nd term were top of the table mid way through the season but when injuries hit the 1st XV and players were called up they had a poor run of results but still finished the season in a very creditable 3rdplace . The 1st XV playing in South Lancs and Cheshire 1 got off to a strong start won 6 of their first 9 games and were nicely positioned in 5th place before being dogged byi njuries. Nevertheless, having been promoted only this year they still finished a very creditable 9th with 62 points to their name. Definitely a position we would have accepted at the start of the season.

“So across the board another strong season for the Club. Another year where we have been superbly supported by parents, volunteers and sponsors.”


Prior to dinner the Club paid special thanks with flowers to a small group of our volunteers who have worked tirelessly, week in week out, throughout the season to keep this club ticking over:

- Sue Astwood
- Marianne Bailey
- Julie Cook
- Louise Dale
-Alison Marshall
-Louise Palmer
- Janet Topping
- Lynn Walton
- Emma Wilson
-Fiona Woods

Then two more young ladies who’s dedication and commitment to this Club is second to none and has been so for many, many years.

-Pat Rostron
-Anne Shorrock

Alex Fusco then joined the stage (nothing unusual in this!) prior to dinner there for one further thank you to be made. A couple of weeks ago a Club member approached Steve and told him that a number of members, parents from across a number of age groups, would like to show their own appreciation for the outstanding work undertaken for the Club by a small group of dedicated volunteers. So in the true spirit of Southport RFC he was delighted to announce for the first, and maybe the only , time the presentation of the Club Members Recognition Award for dedicated and outstanding service to the Club. This recognition went to four people who have dedicated themselves tirelessly to the Club over many years.

-Mark Astwood
-Shane Cook
-Mike Dale
-Steve Hart

Following a sumptuous 3 course dinner the evening moved on to the presentation of the Annual Southport RFC Awards

The first Awards were for the Colts team presented by backs coach Shane Cook

This category is one of significant importance for the future of the team. Many players have worked hard and improved this year. There were many candidates in the running for this award as the team and many individuals in the team continuously improved throughout the season. This years Colts Most improved player of the year is Alex Curran-Emms.

There were many candidates in the running for this award following some outstanding individual performances during the season. In a great year of colts rugby, Sam Lawrenson, James Cook and ‘Toots’ all had great seasons. However this player thoroughly deserves the award. This year’s Colts Coaches player of the year is Callum Lambert.

There were many candidates in the running for this award following a great year of Colt’s rugby, this player thoroughly deserves the award. This years Colts player of the year is Joe Parkinson.

Second-up Lauren McCluskey, Ladies 1st Team Captain , then presented the awards to the winners in the U 18 Girls category.

The winner of this award only took up rugby a year ago, but what a talent she has. She gets better every game she plays. Congratulations to Sian Meath

Congratulations to this player, her tireless work in training and games has seen her develop in to one of the first names on the team sheet. Her determination and scrummaging technique is first rate and a credit to her dedication. This year’s U18 Girls player of the year is Laura Walton.

Next-up Enda Ryland , General Manager of the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Vice Chairman of Southport Rugby Club presented the Award for the

Not just the Ladies top try scorer but the Clubs top try scorer this season . This player has played only one season of competitive rugby however has managed to score 32 tries in one season. Her natural pace, power and an indefinable ‘nose for the line’ have played a significant role in helping the ladies to get promoted. The Clubs top try scorer is Stav Williams

Then Chris Lodge of Manor Lodge, one of the Club’s long term sponsors, came up on stage to present the Award for the

This player started her playing career as a back however this year a move to flanker has shown what we were missing. Some big hits and big smiles and a few strange comments about opposition eye brows!! Congratulations to Emma Barisio

Ian Smith newly elected Director of Mini & Junior Rugby stood in for David Owen of Investec, a great sponsor of the Club, to present the next Award for the

This award is earned over the course of the season and is based not only on how people perform in games but also how they perform in training. Their commitment, attitude, teamwork and playing ability is without question. This player makes training every week, she puts her body on the line to stop players and has a few tries in her bag as well this year. Congratulations to Claire Stewart.

Janet Topping , Director, and sponsor of the club, came up on stage to present the Award for the

This award is voted for by the players, this year’s winner has gone from strength to strength. She gives 100% in everything she does. Her power at the breakdown and quick feet in the scrum has earned her a place in the Lancashire Ladies squad. This player has skippered the team very effectively when Lauren has not been available. Congratulations to Lisa Dunkley, Ladies Player of the Year.

Alex Fusco a dedicated patron and sponsor of the Club rejoined the stage to present the first Award for the men the

This category is one of significant importance for the future of the team. Many players have worked hard and improved this year. Results show this along with the levels of commitment the players have given. The candidates for this year’s most improved player of the year award were; Kristian Grifiths, James Tompkinson, TJ, and Tom Smallwood. The winner of this year voted for by the coaches and managers is Tom Smallwood.

Sarah Robinson representing sponsors Ludlows presented the next Award for the

This player has ALWAYS impressed players and coaches whenever he has played. He is the dad of one of the aspiring Colts players, he is the backs coach of the Colts . He is this years 3rd XV team player of the year. It is of course Shane Cook.

Mark Astwood, Director of the Club, came up to present the award for the

This year it was a tough call for 2nd XV Players Player of the year. Many people were worthy of serious consideration for this award- Andy Boland, Cameron Williams , Josh Spencer to name just a few. All played significant roles in gaining a very creditable 3rd position in a hard league. The 2nd XV player of the year is Joe Spencer.

This was followed by Mike Dale Director of Rugby on behalf of O’Neills the supplier of kit to the Club presenting the Award to the

The coaches’ player of the year this year goes to a player who without doubt puts his body on the line whenever he plays (literally). His attendance at A&E is almost as frequent as it is at training. His commitment to the cause goes without saying, He is a product of the excellent youth section of the club. His big carries and huge hits have not gone without notice. The coaches’ player of the year is Sam Cross

Then the presentation of the most prestigious of the playing awards by Graham Ellis, President of our Club to the

This player is a further testament to the strength of the youth section of the club. He has developed in to a formidable player. He is now consistently demonstrating real power in his game, and his pace is explosive from the base of the scrum. One of the first names on the team sheet his power, lineout ability and direct rugby have set up more than a few tries for his backs. These are only eclipsed by the tries he has scored when he has rounded opposition forwards and backs with his electric pace. His consistent excellence has helped the 1st team gain promotion in recent years and this year he has played a significant role in ensuring the team finished with a creditable 62 points in South Lancs and Cheshire Division 1. Josh Critchley is this year’s 1st Team player of the year .

The final Award of the evening was presented by Steve Olive on behalf of Nationwide Produce, the Clubs main shirt sponsor to the

This person’s name may not be the first name on the team sheet, but it is without question the first to be on the volunteers list for any and every event at the Club.. She attends all events. Her burger flipping is legendary! Her bacon butties unbeatable! Her cakes are a masterpiece. She consistently goes above and beyond what could reasonably be expected of a volunteer. So it is not surprising that she was recently awarded the Lancashire Volunteer of the Year for Southport RFC. It won’t take long to realise the recipient of the Club Person of the Year Award is Lynn Walton.

Congratulations to all, and to the nominees, indeed everyone at the club for another fantastic season.

The evening progressed with the auction, raffle and dancing in the street to Tamla tribute act the Angelettes and DJ Andy Parkinson. Thanks to the staff at the Floral Hall and to comperes Trevor Ford and Dave “the mighty” Quinn, and to Club photographer extraordinaire Angus Matheson. View his superb gallery at

Here’s to next season!

Updated 23:24 - 21 Jun 2017 by Graham Ellis

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