THERE is an air of optimism at the Plessey Road ground as Blyth Rugby Club prepare for the 2011-12 season in Durham and Northumberland Division Two.
Pre-season training began in July under two new coaches and has been well attended as the sessions build towards three warm- up games.
What makes this season extra special for the club is that it is 50 years since Blyth RFC was reformed back in 1961.
A series of events will be held during the course of the coming season and these are being co-ordinated by assistant secretary Stuart Bainbridge.
He said: “We have come a long way since playing on a council pitch and having to use the facilities of a local club.
“We now have our own pitch together with floodlights and state-of-the-art changing rooms.”
First XV captain Tony Smithson is upbeat regarding his side’s chances for the new season.
“We feel we have a realistic chance of promotion to division one, which would really crown our anniversary season,” he said.
“Training is going very well under our new coaches Dave Massie and Richard Calvert and we have warm-up matches against Seghill (home) on August 13, then Richmondshire (away) on August 20, and Gosforth (away) on August 27.
“We have the same squad of players with two additions – second row Wayne Dobson has joined from Percy Park and fly-half Andy Sutherland has signed from Northern.”
The league season will have an increase of two games with 13 clubs in the division.
Winlaton were not relegated and two clubs have been promoted from division three, Whitby and North Shields.
Relegated from division one and joining them are Redcar and Wallsend.
The Durham and Northumberland League programme starts on Saturday, September 3, with Blyth entertaining Whitby at Plessey Road.
This is followed a week later by a trip to Winlaton.
Blyth’s youth section are hoping to run sides at under-6, under-7, under-8, under-9, under-13, under-14 and under-16.
Registration is Sunday, September 4, with parents and prospective new members invited to visit from 10am to 5pm to meet youth chairman Ken Robinson and some of the coaches while also inspecting the facilities.