The Staffordshire Surge have created an unwanted image of being a ‘pub team’ in recent years, but all that is about to change as an influx of coaches and fresh ideas aim to rejuvenate this stuttering programme.
The Surge will compete in the BAFANL Central Division Two in 2012 and expectation is high, something which has been absent in recent times. The season opener against the newly reformed Crewe Railroaders will be a test to see how far the team has come in the offseason in what is anticipated to be a highly charged local derby.
Stuart Beech, 41, is the defensive co-ordinator for the Surge and in his own words; “I’m the DC and only a back-up because I’m too old and decrepit to play nowadays”.
His playing days may now be behind him but he is still hopeful of a successful campaign for the Surge.
“This year our aim to create a solid foundation to build on for the coming years. Too many years now the Surge has been thought of as a ‘pub team’ and behind the times of how a club should be run. We have now sorted out a stable home ground, a functioning committee, proper kit and installed a whole new offence and defence. If we can show an improvement on last season, (on and off the pitch), we will be very happy”.
The Surge have added offensive co-ordinator Gideon Beddows, quarterback/receiver coach Warren Thomas, running back/ special teams co-ordinator Stephen Hindmarsh and linebacker coach Pete Machin to the set-up in the hope this will improve results on the field but also have an impact off the field.
“Coach Beddows and Thomas have brought with them a more professional approach to the running of the team and the way we are viewed by others and have installed a new offence. Coach Hindmarsh has been with the Surge for many years but now has increased responsibility while coach Machin is a motivational and technically gifted ex-player who we are glad to have back”.
Vital to any team’s chances of success is competition for places as sometimes a small squad of settled players can result in an unhealthy, stale environment but luckily for the Surge that won’t be the case this season.
“Player recruitment has gone well over the past couple of years, half the team has only been playing for three seasons or less and we’ve managed to pick up some really good players along the way. This year we have got four rookies who have shown some great promise and will have a good chance of starting in the first game against Crewe Railroaders.
We have lost players from last season, but I think most teams will have to cope with this problem. The upturn this year is that we have had only one player leave us this year to join another club and we also expect a number of players from the Staffordshire Stallions to come down and do a job for us this year”.
Last season did not go to plan for Staffordshire as they only managed to secure two wins in a season they would probably rather forget.
“Last year started out quite well despite some close losses to the Chester Romans and Lancashire Wolverines before dropping off after the visit of the Sheffield Predators. That game, coupled with the losses tot Chester and Shropshire Revolution were our real low points of the season as we didn’t play well nor show any real fight. Thankfully we did show some spirit in the away game at the Revolution and at home to the Lincolnshire Bombers”.
Returning to the current season’s fortunes, coach Beech has highlighted the Surge’s main players ahead of the new campaign with receiver Lewis Bayley, defensive end Phil Wright and linebacker Mike Cooke receiving plenty of praise.
“Stallions go-to-man Lewis Bayley has good size, speed and hands. He was the offensive player of the year last season and I don’t see no reason why that would change with the new offence we are running this season. Wright is raw talent that ran riot last year in his rookie season and he is showing even more promise this season. Cooke had to miss half the last season but still impressed in the games he did play in, he is a tackling machine and has a cracking technique”.
When asked who he was least looking forward to playing this season, coach Beech held nothing back; “Sheffield because I despise the ‘double-wing’, it’s a horrible offence to play against and watch”.
Staffordshire Surge VS Crewe Railroaders – 22/4/2012
Longton Rugby Club, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 8GR
Kick Off 14:30PM