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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Wishing Town luck for the good of Cumbrian RL

UNITY is the watchword at Whitehaven. The club has effectively and amicably changed legal hands with chairman Dick Raaz selling shares to his fellow directors and chief executive Barry Richardson who duly becomes a member of the Board once again.

Now it’s a collective ownership in which Mrs JD Raaz is the biggest single shareholder with a 43 per cent stake. Dick Raaz meanwhile has reaffirmed his intention to stay on both as a director and club chairman depending on where his future work takes him.

So for Messrs Calvin, Richardson, Nelson, Wood, Blinco and Harvey with the considerable support of Dick and JD there has to be a firm commitment to move forward in the same positive and progressive direction.

Barry Richardson’s presence back on the Board is welcomed and as Barry puts it: “We want to take the club on, we want to sign the right players, the right head coach. There is a fantastic opportunity to build on what has been achieved since administration – and we are going to win the league next season. The Board is unified, we are 100 per cent in support of each other and passionate about what we want to do.”

The unity, Mr Richardson makes it clear, also stretched towards giving full support to the community sports stadium as the plans stand.

Dick Raaz says the Board has “unanimously endorsed the community’s aspirations for a new Pow Beck Valley sports complex and plans for construction of phase one of the stadium in that complex”.

What the directors are also anxious to stress is that there is flexibility, that the chosen developer should have scope to enhance the project, notably increase the contentious 3,200 permanent seating capacity, within the budget constraint of £5.5 million.

Like quite a few others, I have my own reservations but with the planning application about to be considered it may well be time to say ‘get on with it’ but woebetide you regeneration movers and shakers if they don’t get it right.

What we want and pray for is a fine, fit for purpose sports stadium for the benefit of Copeland as a whole and not least a proper stage for playing Super League by Whitehaven or whoever in years to come.

For now let’s all put West Cumbrian rugby league’s best interests at heart and wish Workington Town the very best of luck on their own big stage this weekend.

Some Haven fans might find it a little hard to stomach that Town are on the brink of becoming Cumbria’s top dogs playing in a division above them next year. Haven have held the high ground for a long time now while the old enemy have languished in the doldrums far too long.

With the boot now on the other foot, Town prepare for their biggest game for years, a place in the Championship proper beckons if they can only get the better of Keighley once again in the televised Grand Final at Warrington’s Halliwell-Jones Stadium – but beware of wounded Cougars.

Workington’s directors and coaches are well aware of the team strengthening task awaiting them if the team can triumph on Sunday but opportunity knocks.

And if Town do succeed then it can only spur Haven’s title-winning promotion bid next season.

Gary Charlton rightly says it will be good for Cumbria to have at least one Championship team but it would be a whole lot better with two – or three. We could be left to bemoan the loss of some more exciting local derby clashes in 2012 but Barrow might be in danger of relegation over alleged salary cap transgressions.

Whitehaven’s own challenge to escape from Championship One is already under way with the quest for David Seeds’ head coach successor.

It’s closing date tomorrow with no fewer than 16 applications received, some from overseas.

Meanwhile it’s already good to hear that pack powerhouse Lee Doran is not only signed on as a player but will also fill the role of an assistant coach. One player has gone, Lewis Palfrey joining Batley Bulldogs, but will young Gregg McNally return to the Recre to fill one of the problem halfback spots now that his term is up at the Huddersfield Giants?

It’s certainly going to be all eyes on the Recre affairs over the next few weeks and months – we wouldn’t have it any other way!

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