FYLDE rugby coach Mark Nelson has spelled out how much the club have achieved entering 2012 – despite a budget cut in the season after winning promotion.
Fylde start the year in fourth place prior to tomorrow’s home clash with struggling Stourbridge, but have had to compete against sides at the head of National League One with far more resources.
Nelson said: “We are handily placed mathematically, but the playing budget at Jersey is between £500,000 and a million, and the budget for Ealing is half a million.
“Rosslyn Park is in ‘Planet London’, so we are competing against the Southern Hemisphere in rugby terms. We are up against two London sides and probably the wealthiest side outside the Premiership (Jersey).
“We will probably spend less on players this season than we did last, so in terms of finance we are miles apart from other clubs.”
Despite budget constraints, Fylde have punched above their weight to challenge at the top.
Nelson insisted: “We will give it everything in every game. We will play an attractive game. In a lot of respects, the income generated at the club is down to the performance of the first team because we get funds in on a Saturday afternoon when the first team is at home.
“The only way we can do that is to get a big crowd, wanting to be entertained and watch a winning side.”
While stressing how vital it was for Fylde to maintain momentum, Nelson said he was already piecing together a strategy for next season,
“There is an awful lot of pressure on me to deliver both financially for the club and on the pitch. Now I am in a position where I have to put a side together for next season. People are whispering about (going up to) the Championship. That being the case, we have to look long and hard at what we want to do.
“We also have the issue of the second team. There was a very positive meeting at the club on Wednesday and we will be looking to resolve issues surrounding that.
“There is an awful lot of work to be done at all levels to sustain where we are. If we want to better ourselves and go forward, we have to put in the hard yards across the board.
“It’s massively important we get the support of the local community and the club members. If we want to be the best side in the North West after Sale Sharks, then we are going to have to get everybody fully behind us.
“I am not surprised at how well we we have done because we have a very good side.
“The second half of the season is going to be tough as there are more away games (than home). We play all the top sides and this month is critical to where we finish.
“We have Stourbridge, Sedgley Park, Blaydon and Barking, who are looking to get themselves up the league and will be fighting for every point.
“It makes no odds where Stourbridge are in the table – teams like them are always capable of pulling off results.
“I get a little frustrated when people say Stourbridge at home is a regulation win and a bonus-point victory. It doesn’t work like that at this level.”
n FYLDE will be without Nick Royle, Steve McGinnis and most likely Alex Loney for the home clash with Stourbridge.
Royle had an operation on his hand, which has not healed properly, while McGinnis injured his bicep in the pre-Christmas defeat at Wharfedale. Loney has an ankle injury. With Steve Depledge playing for the second team at Preston Grasshoppers tomorrow and Martin Wallwork on the bench, Callum McShane is given a run at scrum-half.
Nelson explained: “McShane has been on the fringes all season. I think he deserves his chance and we need to look at him because I am in the process of looking at the side for next season going forward.
“We need to see one of the younger players coming through and how he copes. I am very confdident he will deliver, so he has got his chance.
Fylde: C Briers; Viney, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, McShane; Griffiths, Roddam, Lavelle, Arnold, Rawlings, J Beaumont, Stewart, S Beaumont. Replacements: Altham, Livesey, Stephenson, Wallwork, Collins or Halsall.
n FULL-back Gavin Cartmel is out for the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Nelson said: “We have sought expert advice and it is felt that a period in a brace is preferable to an operation.
“It is a serious injury and I feel desperately sorry for him because he is another of the young players from the North West (Cumbria) we are developing, and he has shown a great sign of promise.
“For a young lad who is not yet 20 to have such an injury so early in his career is very difficult for him, but we have to work with him and look forward to next season.
“He is devastated, but we see him as an integral part of the future and will invest time and effort into his rehabilitation.”
n Thornton RU look to continue their 16-game winning streak tomorrow as they travel to Leigh, who have strung together some good results since losing 44-0 at Thornton.