Club reputation enhanced after one of finest ever seasons

Date: Saturday 21st June 2003

PENRITH Rugby Union Club’s outstanding season, in which they gained promotion and reached the semi-finals of the national Powergen Intermediate Cup was hailed at the club’s annual meeting on Wednesday as one of the finest if not the finest ever.

In summing up the season, club secretary Keith Davis said Penrith’s performance in the Intermediate Cup, in which they lost agonisingly 13-12 at Hertford in the semi-finals, enhanced the reputation of the club on a local and national stage.

He paid tribute to players, including “inspirational” captain Paul Lowes, supporters and coaches Dave Bell and Gordon MacLelland.

Next year’s captain is Gavin Young, who was named player of the year this season, with Robert Dawson vice-captain. Players’ player of the year was Toby Slack, top try scorer was Bob Lee, with 24, and vice-captain Glen Murray played in every match.

The second team also had a successful year, winning the Cumbria Shield League and finishing second in the Shield Cup. Neil Barton was their player of the year and players’ player. Neil Guy was named young player of the year and Gavin Cowe was most improved.

For the first time since the award came into being, top try scorer was not Terry Balmer, but Luke Brown. However, in recognition of Balmer’s try scoring achievements, he was presented with “his” shield for keeps.

Mr. Davis added that the club owed a debt of gratitude to the people who ran the junior teams, as home-grown talent was the lifeblood of the club, as one look at the senior XV showed.

The meeting heard that this year, for the first time, Penrith won the Golden Whistle award, presented annually by the Cumbria Referees’ Society to the most deserving club in the county. Clubs are judged on their facilities, organisation and general attitude to referee welfare.

Mr. Davis said that a number of factors forced the club to close the weight training facility under the grandstand, and the area had become a target for vandals who had covered the inside with graffiti and damaged doors and seats. The club had called in the police and was in discussion as to how best increase security in that area of Winters Park.

The committee was also in the process of discouraging teenagers from loitering in the grandstand, and reinforcing the “private land” status of the entire ground.

In conclusion, Mr. Davis thanked outgoing president Dave Walker for his three years in office, during which he presided over the lows of foot and mouth and the highs of national cup success and league promotion “with dignity and no little skill”.

He welcomed incoming president John Siddle, saying that, like his predecessors, he was “Penrith through and through” and although his style would be different from that of Mr. Walker, he was confident his term of office would be just as successful.

Mr. Siddle asked for more volunteers to help with car parking duties at Lowther horse driving trials in August as this brings in considerable revenue for the club.

Treasurer Chris Lilley presented the club’s accounts, which showed a trading profit of £15,106 to the year ended 31st March, compared with £9,784 the previous year an increase of 54.4 per cent.

The club was successful in challenging the Inland Revenue regarding over-payment of capital gains tax when it sold land in 1995. This resulted in a High Court decision in the club’s favour and, with interest, £27,014 was received.

At the end of the financial year the club had £51,500 in cash.

Mr. Lilley also gave the squash section report, in which he said subscriptions were similar to last year and meter takings were up by £657 to £5517.

He thanked Val Simpson and Sid Croxton for coaching the juniors. The latter is now 80 years old but still turns up every Thursday evening. Val, meanwhile, has decided to call it a day after 25 years’ coaching and the club is looking at how it can replace such a hard act to follow.