Workington Town’s all-time record points scorer Carl Forber will get the chance to extend that lead even further after penning a new deal with the club.
The 35-year-old has already scored 1,851 points for the club and could easily hit the 2,000-mark in 2021 as his experience in the game will prove invaluable for the younger members of the squad.
“I’m really pleased Carl has decided to go around again,” said head coach Chris Thorman.
“As I said this time last year – he is one of our most selfless squad members, he always puts the team first and his experience is much needed in our relatively young squad.
“His skills and point scoring ability are well known and with how 2020 panned out it would have been disappointing if Carl hadn’t played on in 2021.”
Thorman has also re-signed utility forward Adam Ramsden on a two-year deal and recruited utility back Brad Holroyd from Leigh Centurions.
“It’s great that Adam will be with us again next season,” added Thorman.
“When he arrived, he’d only ever played in the community game and I gave him some clear instructions of what he needed to do to make the step up to League 1.
“He knuckled down in training and he was rewarded with a debut in the Challenge Cup.
“He shows great attitude in all aspects of his training and I’m really looking forward to watching him progress and making plenty more appearances in a Town shirt.
“Brad is a young outside back with bags of potential.
“I’m sure he’ll be a player the Town faithful will warm to and they’ll appreciate his skills, versatility and massive enthusiasm.”
COVENTRY BEARS are raring to go for the 2021 season after setting a date to return to training. And that training will be done at a new venue that keeps the club in the heart of the city.
Last year the Bears moved their training sessions to state of the art facilities at Warwick School, but with Covid-19 restrictions preventing them from returning there the race was on to find an alternative base.
They have done just that and will now set about putting their own stamp on their new base at Dunlop RFC.
“We’re going to be starting back for pre-season on November 7,” said head coach Richard Squires.
“We’ve had the new training facility signed off by the RFL and the boys have all done their return to training protocol.
“We’ve done all we need to do to get back to training and do some contact, so we’re getting to where we need to be.
“Because of the situation, Warwick School have had close their facilities to the public so we’ve had to find somewhere completely new to train.
“Alan (Robinson – director of rugby) has a few contacts at rugby union clubs and we fell lucky with Dunlop. They have great facilities that allow us to have our own pitch and training rooms that we can make our own.
“It means we are now in Coventry for training whereas before we were 40 minutes away at Warwick. We’re also now only about five minutes away from the Ricoh Arena and 10 away from Butts Park. It’s right off the motorway so it’s easily accessible for the boys that travel down and it now knocks 30 to 40 minutes off their journeys.
“The facilities at Warwick School were great, it was state of the art, there was a 4G pitch and a strength and conditioning suite, but we never got much practise time on a grass pitch.
“We have access to that now, and there are floodlights, so we’ll be able to do more grass-based work this year, which is a big step forward on last season.
“It’s worked out quite well really.
“The boys are just excited to be getting back in and back together. It’s all systems go.”
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has said he won’t push his players too hard once they finally get the go ahead to return to training.
With a start date for the season still to be decided, the club have not yet set a date to get the squad back together, but whenever that does happen Finnigan knows there will be more important things to focus on than physical training.
“What we do at the start of pre-season will depend a lot on what the RFL put ahead of the league season,” said Finnigan.
“If we have to go straight into league games with no cup competitions and limited friendlies, that will change what we do.
“But the initial target will just be to get the guys back together. The stress won’t be on getting them fit because that isn’t the priority. It’s more about getting them back together and having some fun at training again.
“I certainly won’t bring them in and run them into the ground straight away.
“There would be no benefit to doing that. After so long away from the game if you brought them in and treated it as a normal pre-season, injuries would see you down to half a squad in two weeks.
“I just want to get back together with a ball in their hands and have a bit of fun while we build the camaraderie back up.
“That will also build a bit of fitness up without them realising they’re doing it.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS chairman Andy Mazey has said the club are holding off making any announcements about next year’s season tickets until they know exactly what they will be able to offer their supporters.
With no firm start date yet confirmed and spectators not expected to be allowed to attend matches until April, Mazey is conscious of not wanting their loyal-supporter base to be left out of pocket again in 2021.
“Ideally at this stage of the year, clubs would want to have season tickets on sale and to have already launched merchandise, but all that is still in limbo,” said Mazey.
“We don’t want to start selling season tickets without knowing what the fans are actually getting for their money. I have been at clubs before where they’d need to be selling season tickets or they’d have some serious problem, but thankfully we’re not in that position and we are trying to protect the fans.
“We don’t want to take their money off them and then find that we can’t provide them with the service they have paid for and having to refund them or offer them something else.
“We’re just holding back at the moment, but at some point we might have to put them on sale and say that if we can’t get them in the ground that we can get them a live stream or access to X, Y and Z. But we still having talks about if we can offer that alternative access and we don’t want to offer that until we know we can.”
The fans may get more answers on this matter when Mazey and head coach Matt Calland host another webinar and Q & A on Tuesday, November 3.
Supporters wishing to register for the webinar should visit https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VlkVhZvVTyWdYglCa_QllQ
Meanwhile, Andy Lea, who played four games for the club in 2020 has been handed a four-year ban after testing positive for steroid use.
The suspension runs until January 8, 2024.
DONCASTER back rowers Aaron Ollett-Hobson and Ryan Dixon have become the latest players to agree a new deal to stay with the club next season.
“Aaron is another versatile player who will add plenty to the squad next season,” said chief executive Carl Hall.
“His experience on the field will be important against some tough sides in the competition.
“Ryan is another good player to have around the place.
“He puts his body on the line whenever he takes to the field and that is something every successful side needs.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray has once again gone to the amateur game to find some up and coming talent to join the club for 2021.
St Helens academy graduate Cam Brown, who played alongside current squad members Elliott Jenkins, Alex Eckley and Brad Billsborough at Saints, has been on the books of amateur side Pilkington Recs since he was released by the Super League club.
Now the 22 year-old centre is keen to make the step up to League 1 and Murray is happy to give him that chance.
“Cam has come through a good system at St Helens and now wants to test himself in League 1,” said Murray.
“We love giving players an opportunity at Crusaders and helping them develop so we’re delighted to have him on board.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS chief executive Peter Tiffin is keeping his eyes open across the game for any local players that might be interested in a return to their roots.
Many of the Raiders recent signings have been young Welsh players looking to make their mark in the professional game. But Tiffin hopes that more established Welsh players, like recent new recruit Marcus Webb, can be tempted back to the area.
“It is great to see Marcus coming back to Wales after playing in Leeds with Hunslet,” said Tiffin.
“There are a lot of other Welsh players playing in this league and the Championship and we want to get as many of them back to Wales as we can.
“It would be great to have a strong Welsh core.
“There are some really talented Welsh players playing elsewhere and it would be great if they could do that with us.”
HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton knows the coming pre-season will be vastly different than normal, he just doesn’t know yet when it will start.
“We would normally look at the start date from the season and take a 12 to 14 week cycle back from there for our start date,” explained Thornton.
“But because we haven’t got that stake in the ground yet of a start date, it’s very difficult to plan.
“Having said that though, we are pushing ahead with getting all our return to train protocols done and signed off so that we are ready to start as soon as we get the green light.
“Given as well that everyone has been out of the game for so long, that 12-14 weeks will probably have to become 16-18 weeks.
“What we’re probably planning at the moment is to get them in for a few weeks light training initially to blow the cobwebs off and then start things properly in early December. But with there still being so many unknowns, we don’t want to set expectations with the players for things to change and have to leave them disappointed because we can’t fulfil them.
“The boys are chomping at the bit to get back in, so it’s about balancing that eagerness with making sure it’s a meaningful pre-season without over stretching it.”
BARROW RAIDERS chairman Steve Neale has said the club may switch the bulk of their home matches to be played on a Saturday afternoon in 2021.
Traditionally, like most clubs, Barrow’s preferred game time has been a Sunday afternoon, but with the repercussions of Covid-19 set to linger throughout next year, the change could help keep the club in a healthy position financially.
“More work was done on the budget at the last board meeting and we have finally put together a forecast based, perhaps with pessimism, of Covid-19 still being around and wiping out the possibility of friendlies in front of fans and restrictions on crowd numbers,” Neale wrote in his North West Evening News column.
“Our number crunching revealed a six-figure shortfall in income against expenditure which wasn’t really a surprise. 2021 is going to be tough.
“Similarly to 2020 we can’t afford to just sit back and feel sorry for ourselves and we must put a plan in place to exceed those income projections whilst keeping an eye on overheads.
“With a lot of our expenditure fixed, the variables are on the income side and whilst our plans aren’t firm yet we do have some income generating ideas.
“There is a train of thought in the boardroom that the financial success of our beer garden could be repeated next summer. With that in mind we are considering moving our home fixtures to Saturday’s between May and August with a view to keeping more people in the ground on a Saturday evening, almost certainly with entertainment provided. This will allow us to open on the Sunday and perhaps the whole of the following weekend if we have an away fixture.
“We had some really good days this summer when we hosted our Pop Festival, brilliantly organised by Knight Productions, our Soul Day with some fantastic DJs and some our nights in the tent. Obviously numbers were severely restricted for some of these events and it is hoped that Covid is a distant memory next summer.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS assistant coach James Feather admits he is enjoying his first taste of life away from playing.
While the 36-year-old may still turn out for the side on occasion in 2021, his main focus will be working alongside Rhys Lovegrove on the coaching team.
“I am looking forward to learning about all the ins and outs of what it takes to become a good coach,” said Feather.
“I have had some really good coaches around me during my career, including Rhys, who have all taught me a hell of a lot.
“But now I am enjoying learning about what goes on in preparation for pre-season training.
“We’re already working on the plan for the first 12 weeks and I have never seen that side of the process before so it’s interesting.
“I have also never been involved in the recruitment side of things either but I’ve been learning about what goes on there as well.
“I am learning every single week and it’s an exciting step.”
Meanwhile, following the Government’s decision not to provide funding for free school meals for those in need during the school holidays, the club have announced that between today (Monday) and Friday (October 30) they will provide free lunches between 12:30pm and 1:30pm for those who need them.
If your child requires a free lunch throughout next week then please get in touch General Manager Lisa Gill, confidentially, on 07961 444851 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman has praised the way the club’s new-look board have handled themselves during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Following the resignations of Hector McNeil and Terry Brown, Colin Brown moved into the role of CEO while existing Director Adrian Fraine became Chairman. Andrew Jackson, Kevin Milne and John Piercy remained on the Board.
“They are all very diligent people,” said Coleman.
“There are some people that have been on the board for a number of years and a couple of new people that have stepped up to the plate.
“They have handled themselves very well in these unprecedented times. They have managed to keep the club ticking over and made sure every one has been in a position where they have still been earning something, be it through furlough or being paid through the club.
“They are a new board at a time when we’re all living in an era thats very different to anything lived through before. We are all learning as we go and I am sure they have picked things up along the way that they can learn from in the future.”
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