The season sure has crept up on us, on me anyway. I really don’t know where the summer has gone – it got lost somewhere in a haze of wedding planning and job searching, and one very drunken weekend in the Lakes where I nearly lost my right foot to a quad bike. Hence I haven’t posted much over the summer.
No time to worry about that now though, as tomorrow night the Falcons get their public pre-season underway at the stadium formerly known as the Reynolds Arena in Darlington. It’s time for the Premiership 7s, a tournament we have a decent record in having won it in 2011 and been runners-up the previous year.
This time our group opponents are Sale, Leicester and a team that will represent London Welsh. The Falcons, managed by Mark Laycock, have named a young squad that contains only two recognised first-teamers in Lee Smith and captain Tom Catterick. Other notable names include Brian Tuilagi, who has signed up to our academy and is from the same dynasty as our new signings Alex and Andy.
Sean Brown and Simon Hammersley will both be looking to push their claim for first team opportunities this season after both getting cup run-outs in 2013/14, while Ruki Tipuna’s injury may give Andy Davies a view to a bench spot come the start of the season.
I’ve been to the Northern Echo Arena before, back in 2003 when George Reynolds FC played Kidderminster in the stadium’s first competitive game. It was a nice ground, but reminded me a lot of the Madejski Stadium, just with different coloured seats. It’ll be interesting to see tomorrow night what, if anything, has changed, and what it’s like as a rugby ground.
Above all, it’ll be great to see some live rugby again after a couple of months off. Nine months of hope, despair, ecstacy, tension and terror begin here!
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)