Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WONEWS to 80360, or email
Otley's escape spares club from tough choices
If club secretary Marc Lawrence had sleepless nights worrying about what would happen to Otley Rugby Union Football Club if they had been relegated from SSE National League Two North in 2011-12, then don’t be at all sur-prised.
After winning the first two games of last season against Hull Ionians and Hull, the Cross Green-ers were soon drawn into a battle to avoid going down for a second straight campaign.
Three defeats followed those derby triumphs, and a run of eight straight losses from November to January meant the writing was firmly on the wall in terms of a potential fall to National League Three North and, among other things, a resumption of hostilities with neighbours Bradford & Bingley.
But with director of rugby Tom Rock’s firm self belief and chivvy-ing, Otley won five of their final eight matches, culminating in a 39-38 victory at Hull Ionians on April 28 that was sealed with the last play of the match.
Having completed the Great Escape II, which bettered the Great Escape I of 2009-10 when they sur-vived in National League One by triumphing in five of their final ten contests, Lawrence, Rock and com-pany could finally draw breath.
Words such as “unthinkable” and “horrendous” had been used by Lawrence in the closing weeks of the season as all at Cross Green contemplated another demotion.
Lawrence, who took over as in-terim rugby chairman in February following the resignation of Paul Carter, even went so far as to say this week: “There would have been massive implications if we had gone down. It does not bear thinking about.
“We would not have gone under but we may have had to revert to complete amateur status.
“But now we will get stability, and people at the club are working on getting funding in place.
“We may know more at the ann-ual meeting, a date for which has yet to be decided, but I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all those people who have supported the club financially over the past few months.
“The money we get from the RFU now only helps us when we go to away games involving over 150 miles of travel.
“On the playing front, I believe that 90 to 95 per cent of last sea-son’s squad will be staying.
“The players enjoy our style of play and can learn things while they are here but I have no problems with players wanting to leave us to better themselves at a higher-grade club. We would wish them all the best.”
Meanwhile, Lawrence has con-irmed that he does not want to continue in his dual role of club secretary and rugby chairman.
He said: “The job of rugby chairman will be taken by Donald Holdsworth at the agm “I like being club secretary but the rugby chairman’s job in this day and age is extremely chall-enging and you are competing, as I have said before, for people’s leisure pound.”.