SPALDING RFC: Sharman salutes progress

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HARRY Sharman has shrugged off a tough debut season in Midlands One East by declaring: “We’ve put Spalding on the map.”

Town finished 11th out of 14 in their new surroundings, which was something of a shock to the system for a team used to winning week in, week out.

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folder: sport Picby:Mike Date: 26/09/09'Function: sp rugby squad'Venue: sp memorial field'Contact: ac'Names LtoR: h/s pics- andy..,please refer to attached team shot for names [it might be worth checking spellings if poss,'cos the names were [badly] hand written for me...thanks

But Sharman’s men did deliver the Lincs Cup, prompting the Spalding RFC skipper to label the campaign as a resounding success.

He said: “People may see our reports and think we’ve been poor this season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We’re punching above our weight at this level. For a club from Spalding to be taking on the likes of Derby and Mansfield is pretty impressive.

“I think the lads are due a lot of credit for their efforts, we’ve really put Spalding on the map in this sport.

“Perhaps we found the division a little harder than we expected, especially away from home, but we certainly weren’t out of our depth. With a bit of luck we could have been in the top five or six.”

What is clear is that Sharman – who will stay on for a third year as captain – believes in this squad.

Although Town will look to recruit a few fresh faces over the summer break, there won’t be any major surgery undertaken at the Memorial Field.

The loss of talented youngster Lawrence Rayner to Championship side Bedford Blues was a big blow for the club, but that was tempered by the emergence of Ollie Phillips and super stand-out seasons from Ed Duerden and Sion Williams.

Duerden walked away with Spalding’s players’ player and player of the year awards, while Phillips landed the most improved gong.

Sharman added: “The talent is clearly there. We’ve got a young squad that won’t reach its prime for another three or four years.

“Ed Duerden and Sion Williams both deserve a special mention, while Ollie Phillips was a try machine.

“There’s a great togetherness at the club and we really enjoy playing in front of the fans each week.

“We usually get about 200 people supporting us at home, which is fantastic. I can’t thank the fans enough for giving up their Saturday for us.”

Town are now putting their feet up for a well- deserved break, but they will get together again at the end of June for a team building weekend away.

After that the hard work begins, with pre-season fitness training expected to start in early July.

Before then, the Spalding annual meeting will be held on May 27 – although no major role changes are expected to be announced.

As for Sharman, he rates the 48-31 Lincs Cup final win over higher-graded Scunthorpe as his highlight of the year.

After all, not every club has a silver lining to their season.