10 Dec 2023
The Chairman's Positive End Of Year Message
I am sure most of us are starting to realise Christmas is now just around the corner and starting to get organised for the festive period.
As I do every year, I try to summarise the year for the club, what we have experienced, accomplished, and what we can look forward to in the year ahead.
I have now been Chairman for 3 years. In preparing this, I looked back on past updates. Clearly the majority of my tenure to date has been all about getting the Club through challenging times, whilst at the same time trying to put it on sure ground for the future.
This year, I can now say the future looks brighter for Rochdale Hornets and am excited of where we stand. This is in no small part thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, along with the backing of our loyal supporters, sponsors, commercial partners and last but by no means least our supportive Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council.
In terms of progression the recruitment of Matt Rigby in 2023 as our general manager has been a real shot in the arm for the club. Matt has brought a genuine passion for all things Rochdale and his presence day to day has undoubtably led to an improved relationship with Rochdale AFC. Being a Rochdale lad and a big supporter of both of our towns professional clubs means he wants nothing but the best for rugby league, football and indeed sport in the Borough.
I recently sponsored an RAFC game and Matt and I attended along with Hornets directors Tony Sheridan and Carl Halstead amongst my guests. We really enjoyed the hospitality and welcome and It's worth noting that RAFC Director Richard Knight has since contacted Matt and will be sponsoring one of our games in 2024 so we can look forward to reciprocating in the new year.
Jason Seddon who joined the clubs board and also became a Foundation trustee in 2022 continues to provide a strategic link between the club and Foundation and is helping to implement some exciting pathways and initiatives which will be rolled out in 2024.
The addition of Carl Halstead to the board room this year has also been another major plus. Carl has worked closely with Matt in recent months on commercial's. We have improved our previous performance and driven improved revenues for 2024 which is testament to the hard work being put in. These guys being Rochdale based and having a passion for the club and all things Rochdale has helped no end, it certainly energises me to invest more time and money.
Having trialled a number of offers, promotions and initiatives in 2023, i am delighted to report that RL commercial provided clubs with attendance data at the recent December RFL council meeting and encouragingly our 2023 attendances increased by 14%. Our home attendance against Oldham in August of 1386 was also the highest regular season attendance in League 1 which reassures me we do have something to build on here in Rochdale.
Matt and Sarah have locked in plans for our 2024 match day themed events so please back us, not only by purchasing season tickets, All Hornets memberships, lottery subscription, merchandise and attending matches, but also by championing our outstanding community work and interacting with our content on and across ALL of our numerous social media platforms, which cover all of the club’s teams. Growth of our season ticket numbers, attendances and revenues generally is critical within the IMG finance pillar so i cant stress enough that the time is NOW to support YOUR club.
In terms of on field 2023 was an important year. By effectively going back to square one we began a process of rebuilding the team with a good culture in a professional environment to develop and achieve success in the years to come. We head into year two of this process with optimism having retained twelve of Gary's largely young 2023 team, and also having strengthened with the arrival of some highly experienced players such as Martyn Ridyard, Gregg McNally, Kenny Baker, Jordan Andrade, Luke Nelmes, Matt Wilkinson and Deane Meadows. I'm sure we can all look forward to a much improved year on the pitch and some very competitive rugby league football.
Our Women’s team have encountered some difficulties in 2023, however I’m pleased to report that thanks to the support of Jason Seddon and the hard work of Craig Fisher the team is now under enthusiastic new management and is recruiting and planning for a big year in 2024.
The Wheelchair team continues to be a jewel in our crown, and some encouraging steps forward have been taken this year under head coach Pete Hird. I have been privileged to take part in a training session (albeit briefly) this year, and also attended a home game against Wigan Warriors. They are a fantastic group and I would highly recommend getting involved as there are no barriers and its open and accessible to all.
Having stepped into to the role of Foundation Manager midway through the year, Craig Fisher has been central to all thats good about Rochdale Hornets in the community, revitalising our schools programmes, continuing the ongoing success of walking rugby, launching the England Lions development sessions and getting the Learning Disability RL team off the ground just some of the headlines in 2023. We don't just talk about diversity and inclusion its at the core of everything we do.
The Foundation have lots of exciting projects planned across the townships in the new year. With the Balderstone community facility coming online early in 2024, our U15 and 16s development teams in action in January at Hopwood Hall there is so much progress being made, and I am excited to see Rochdale's professional club continue to lead the way.
As I have always said, the Club needs to be sustainable for its future, which means we must work even harder in 2024 and do more in the coming year on all fronts. To become sustainable we can’t become reliant on myself and other shareholders and sponsors generosity as that might not always be around. So, we must continue to grow in all areas and better our revenue streams in order to realise our ambitions while improving our IMG grading score in the process.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone involved a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Whether you are a player, on the coaching staff, a volunteer, a sponsor or one of our many fans, you all do your bit for this club and you are all a valuable cog in the wheel. Thank you for all you do and enjoy your Christmas time – we have a big year to come, and we need you all rested and ready to go in January!
All the very best!