After twelve seasons WOBS RFC are still going very strong.

We managed an amazing turnaround to our 2004-05 league season, with a strong second half of the season to secure us a safe mid-table position - and the annual comment that "if we had played our best team each weekend then we would have won every League game" was truer this year than ever before. Although we didn't manage to achieve week-by-week consistency (and skipper Rob Carson has reported elsewhere on the reasons for this), there were many highlights - both in victory and in defeat. My own favourite games were the victories over Old Walcountians and Raynes Park, which were particularly sweet and were critical to our revival, but perhaps it was our narrow defeats against League Winners Shirley Croydon Wanderers and third placed Old Alleynians which gave the best indication of the WOBS' true grit and real potential.

Off the pitch, I set the WOBS four key objectives for the season, and it is on these that I'd like to report in more detail now. The four objectives were:

1. Manage our Cash better
2. Bring in new younger WOBS to the club.
3. Acknowledge and nurture the support provided to WOBS Rugby by the Vice Presidents.
4. Secure Sponsorship.

1. CASH:
On the first objective we have made slow and steady progress, which has just about kept the wolf at bay, but we have more to do. The year started with a back-log of unpaid subs and match fees which we have worked hard to recover. Weekly match-fees are now collected routinely with great efficiency but we remain 'uncommercial' at getting our cash, for Annual Subs particularly, in early. We can do better - and should be making better use of standing orders. And some members still have old debts to repay.

2. RECRUITMENT:
Without cash, we cannot run the club - but without players there would be no point to the Club at all. The WOBS have a tremendous group of stalwarts who have being playing season after season, many of whom are still young, but we also need new and younger talent, even if just to run in the long-distance tries in our Sevens competitions. Which is why we have made big efforts in recent years with a two-pronged recruitment strategy. Firstly, we keep in good contact with recent leavers through the traditional Young vs Old WOBS game at the school in mid-September, which we now supplement with the popular Cronk Under 21 competition, where the Young WOBS have had great success, reaching the Semis at the first attempt. The net result of this effort has been to keep the club fully in the minds of School Leavers, and we have secured the services of several players on a regular basis directly as a result of these efforts. Key people who have helped with these activities have been Max McAlister who is a great motivator, Ben Green, and most recently Jamie Bruce, who had a fine season with the WOBS this year. The second prong in the Recruitment strategy has been to keep in contact with WOBS graduates as they return to the capital with their first class degrees. Again in this area we have had success with Tom Holt a major influence, bringing in Andys Tyler and Pollen to bolster the club's back division this season - and they intend to bring in another new batch next season. The trick here is to make sure that all Uni WOBS know that they can get a game when they visit for holidays. Which they can.
This effort of Recruitment and Registration will be coordinated in future by Ben Calnan, who has made great efforts on a week-by-week basis to support the Saturday squad, and to encourage younger players to join the WOBS.

3. VICE PRESIDENTS:
The Vice Presidents are our unsung heroes and, quite frankly, without them - and of course the support from the WOBS Society - we could not operate as we do, and we would not have achieved our aspirations to have a secure home ground. This year we have increased our commitment to the Whiteley Village ground through a significantly longer lease, for 7 years on this occasion. I think we have slightly taken this group of 20 worthy supporters for granted and, although they benefit from access to International Tickets and can follow our progress on the web, we haven't done as much for VPs as we should have. I'd like to formally acknowledge the help that they have given, and promise that in the coming season there will be more chances to meet the WOBS and, if they wish to, get more involved socially with the club. A follow-up Vice Presidents' Dinner is being planned. The players and the Club as a whole really appreciate the outstanding generosity of our VPs.

4. SPONSORSHIP:
We intended to secure new sponsorship this season, but regrettably have not. This is a wasted opportunity which places unnecessary financial pressure on our VPs, the WOBS Society and on ourselves. We intend to rectify the situation within the next months, and I would ask that any ideas on this subject are sent to me or to Rob Carson and Teds Littlewood who are jointly taking the lead to secure a Sponsor.


The Club also relies on the contribution of several committed individuals to whom I would like to extend my personal thanks. On the Committee we have our Treasurer Bobby Horvath, Club Captain Jon Nickell (still applying his considerable legal skills, and considering his playing future), and playing reps Paul Kozary (Fixtures) and our new skipper Rob Carson - who has done a tremendous amount this season to for the club, taking over from Chris Jackson after 3 seasons of inspirational leadership from Jacko. An enormous amount of dull administrative work is done by our Secretary Harry Fisher and we are really indebted to the efforts Harry continues to make for the WOBS.

Outside the committee, there has been more grass-roots help from players in recent seasons. In addition to those I have already mentioned above, I'd like also to acknowledge the help we have had from our non-Worth WOBS: in particular from Richard Hammond on the thankless Dinner task, from Teds Littlewood for taking on the Shirts/Sponsorship, and for Lee Howard for leading the Sevens effort with real distinction this year. And especial thanks to Paul Benson who manages our website [www.wobsrugby.com] so well that one wonders what else he does at work. We have untapped potential amongst this important and loyal group within the WOBS - not just on the playing field - which we would do well to use more in the future.

And of course, special thanks go to all the friends, girlfriends, wives and supporters who come to watch. Whether regular (thank you Nickell family, Poppy, Dr Alex, and Terence with his ridgebacks) or occasional, your support is always appreciated, especially the stronger ones who join the lovely 'mother of all WOBS' Julie in the kitchen to feed our heroes after the game. The Silver Fox thanks you all, and of course Tony Blair for banning the hunt, most heartily.

Desmond Calnan Saturday, 18th June 2005.