Chairman Andrew Peart Reflects On 2016 Season

Sunday 11th September sees the Saints travel to Leeds for what is the biggest game for the club in a decade…

Written by Chairman Andrew Peart

Being lucky enough to serve as Chairman during such exciting times is a massive honour for me & one I think about with a great deal of humility.

I feel humbled by the amount of hard work & dedication that has gone into the club, both on and off the field in all the years prior to (and during) my appointment.

Reaching a championship game is not a short term project, it takes years of work to create the right atmosphere and culture to achieve long term, sustainable success.

It is for these reasons that I think a great deal about those who laid the groundwork for this year.

A year that all of us lucky enough to be part of this organization are enjoying and will be able to remember for the rest of our lives.

Linebacker Sam Stancombe tackles a Shark receiver

The Saints are a club whose history is incredibly important to us & many people throughout many years are equally (much more so, in several cases) responsible.

We would not be in this final were it not for the late Roger Hedges, our former general manager. Roger’s, dedication and enthusiasm over many years set the foundations for a culture of football in Oxfordshire that we continue to reap the benefits of today.

We’re delighted that Roger’s memory lives on at the club through an award in his name and through the presence of our long time supporters and friends, Kelly and Pam Hedges.

BY JAMIE STANCOMBE - James Walter dives over the line for a touchdown

We would not be in this final were it not for Chris Janes. Chris, our former player, coordinator, head coach and now team photographer, has played an immense role in the building and maintaining of this club.

Without Chris, the past & present of this club would look dramatically different & we thank him for his contribution over so many years that gives us the opportunity to do what we’re about to do on Sunday.

We would not be in this final were it not for the exceptional people currently working at the club. We’re incredibly lucky to have such a knowledgeable, passionate and selfless coaching staff.

We fully appreciate the time, energy and sacrifice made by Andrew Day, Nick Wykes, Greg Kennedy, Michael Price, Toby Durant, Gordon Cutting & Chris Warren.

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An unbeaten (so far!) season is no coincidence & these coaches have given their all in attempting to achieve it.

The back room staff at the Saints go through a phenomenal amount of work in order to provide the optimal conditions for players to play, coaches to coach and games to go ahead.

Without James Dunstan, Graeme Taylor, George Wright, Sam Armstrong, Luke Fry, Chris Roberts, Peter Holtom, Michael Parker, Naomi Maycock and many others helping behind the scenes, we would not be in this final. Most crucially of course, to on-field success is the work of the players.

To reach a championship final requires a championship mentality, championship level training, championship preparation and championship talent.

With a roster close to 90 players, I’ll avoid name checking everyone, but we’re incredibly lucky to see the level of impact from players such as Dean Bryan, Stuart Cribbes, Ali Galbraith, James Walter, Ben Denton, Destin Maulding and countless others.

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So many people, over so many years, too numerous to mention, have contributed to us reaching this final on Sunday. We go into this game fully aware that we’re “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants”.

So for those mentioned above, others such as Steve Abbott, Steve Connor, John Farley, Martin Fitzpatrick, all those supporters who come week in, week out and everyone else who has put us in this incredible position & we would not be in this final without.. ..this game is for you.

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The Saints will face the Cambridgeshire Cats in the Division II South Final, on Sunday 11th September at John Charles Stadium, Leeds.

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