The mood at Old Gravesendians is currently very positive and vibrant, where the club will look to build on the upward trend that has been developed in the past few seasons. With a recently introduced youth section, consolidation of the first team in Kent 1, the introduction of a number of new faces to the 2nd team and a Vets team collecting some silverware the club will be looking to continue this success in the 2018/19 season.
Whilst the 1st team 2017/18 league position saw them finish in the lower half of the Kent 1 table, this doesn’t tell the whole story on an injury hit season, with over half the squad regular visitors to the treatment table and multiple long term injuries. Having been promoted from Kent 2 the previous year, consolidation itself can be seen as a relative success.
The second team had a successful year, with the sociable yet determined squad introducing new faces to competitive rugby within the Kent merit leagues. Despite being hit by the 1st team injury crisis, the 2s ploughed on to finish in the top half of the league, with wise old heads well supported by an introduction of some energetic fresh blood. The Vets side were the undoubted success of the season, lifting the Kent Bowl title, with a number of the elder generation rolling back the years within this success.
The plans for 2018 and into 2019 will be to continue the upward trend that the club has been on in recent years. A social 3rd team is being re-introduced for the new season – providing opportunities for less competitive players and some of the clubs more elderly statesmen to get their fix of rugby in a friendly, welcoming club environment. All previous and new players from the local area are encouraged to come and join this new venture. The first team will look to work their way up the Kent 1 league table, with up to 10 players returning from long term injury and a solid recruitment programme in place.
The main focus of the year though will be to continue the undoubted success that has been the launch of the Old Gs youth section. Spearheaded by a group of club members, this section has over 60 children aged 3-9 come and experience rugby at the club. Plans are firmly in place to expand this, increase numbers both in terms of players and coaching staff. Old Gs see this section as key to the clubs future, integral to success moving forward, and welcome all children from within the local area to come and give rugby a try.
Whilst the players within the youth section are some way off from senior rugby – the club continues its good track record of integrating younger players into the senior sides, with all welcome to come and try senior rugby in a safe, welcoming environment. Many current senior players have come through the Old Gs ranks, with regularly half the first team having appeared in an Old Gs shirt as a junior. Recently Old Gs has introduced a development coach, who regularly spends time with new and younger players to support them with skill development and integration to the club. The success of this role will be continued for years to come.
The club has a family feel, with a good sociable club atmosphere of coaches, players, spectators and volunteers all joining each other in contributing to the friendly club ethos, a trait which many new players comment on. The club prides itself on providing good rugby for all abilities of players within a social, inclusive environment. Old G’s has a community atmosphere, where people from all walks of life can join, play rugby and create friendships – no matter what level of playing standard on the pitch.
The biggest challenges to Old Gs in future years, as per many other clubs, will be player recruitment. With a relatively limited playing base, and competing with other local clubs for players, recruitment is always high on the list of priorities for the club. The club is confident of being the most friendly and welcoming in the area, and all players, at whatever level of experience are encouraged to come and give the club a try.
Old Gs ambitions for the next five years include the continual improvement of the club’s facilities, increasing the player base at the club and building a cohesive squad that can compete in the upper echelons of the Kent leagues and strive to return to the London leagues. This success though, will never be at the sacrifice of the welcoming, family atmosphere that the club prides itself on.
The future looks bright for the club, with an influx of new committee members putting their stamp on the club direction, bringing new ideas and creativity to the club. Combined with some engaged, dedicated sponsors the club is constantly moving in the right direction and a great place to be. The youth section will remain a high priority, with the club looking to invest in its long term future and sustainability. Additional age groups will be added to this arm of the club as it continues to expand. Overall Old Gs are on the rise – and definitely a club to be at!
Article provided Matt Holdstock, Old Gravesendians Media Secretary