Surrey Four club 'have achieved the impossible'

Woking RFC 20 vs Wandsworthians 24

Woking chairman Andy Jones is looking ahead to new challenges as the Surrey Four outfit battle back from near extinction.

As a tribute to club legend Richard Grady – who died in December 2019 – Jones took on the role last summer. Some felt it would be difficult to keep the club alive following the pandemic, but Jones gave it a go – and is now seeing the fruits of his considerable endeavours.

Jones, who also coaches the 1st XV, said: “Richard asked me to step forward as chairman back in 2019. So when I was asked earlier this year to do it, I felt ready.

“I feel like I owe it to Richard to be chairman.

“This place is the life and soul of a lot of people’s lives. It’s rescued a lot of people.

“I was very apprehensive as to whether I could pull it off. But Richard would’ve said ‘We never give up’.

“And right now I feel like we’ve achieved the impossible and that we just might be able to keep it going.”

Jones began his tenure with two modest goals, but he’s already surpassed those – and now needs to consider the next steps in the club’s revival.

He said: “The first goal was to get player numbers along to training. I said that if we could, other people would come.

“And that’s what’s happened – but better than I expected. So we’ve hit that goal.

“The other goal was to try to score one try. And we’ve absolutely smashed that already this season.

“So I’m in a bit of a hiatus now where I’ve got to think of a new target.

“The best thing we could hope for between now and Christmas is an outright, clean win where we’ve got our own players running the game. And I think we’re on the precipice of achieving that.“Every week I’ve tried to build on the positives.

“We’ve still got to build on some of our game management and decision-making on the field, but that’s only going to come as we progress through the season.

“And it’s also about getting the same team out consistently every week so we can firm up our game plan and how we want to tackle the game.

“But given where we were coming into the season, I’m mightily heartened that we’re in a lot better position that I thought we would be.”

On Saturday 6 November, Woking were handed a walkover against Wandsworthians.

With both sides at the foot of Surrey Four, it was set to be a vital clash at Byfleet Recreation Ground.

But the visitors could only bring 12 players. And though the match went ahead as a friendly – with some of the hosts’ players turning out for their opponents – Woking were given the free victory in the league.

Nonetheless, the day was notable for other reasons, with a two-man delegation from the Dutch national rugby league team  – competitions manager Matthew Rigby and player Adam Breksator – turning up to watch the match and parade their European Championship D trophy that they won in Turkey last month.

With Woking home to the largest Dutch community in the UK, it was a natural stop on their trophy tour.

Breksator said: “It’s been great to get out here and meet the Dutch community and connections we have in Woking.

“It was a special moment to win the competition, with the amount of work everybody had put in.

“Now we move into European Pool B and then we’ll get to play off for a position in the Rugby League World Cup.

“We’ll be coming up against a lot more professional teams, but there’s no reason we can’t be competitive at that next level.”

By: Richard Briggs
Head of Sport/News Sub-Editor
Woking News & Mail