Getting ready to come back strong

Date: 26 March 2021

What an interesting and challenging last 12 months it turned out be for us as a club and a business as I am sure it has been for you. 

All rugby activity stopped in the first lock down and the club house shut as a venue. Below is a quick summary of what we then did!

  • Through strategic sales of parcels of land not used for our activities we realised a capital fund. Much of this needs to be re-invested in the club house which, at nearly 50 years old, is in dire need of refurbishment. 
  • Works were carried out to create a new club office, an acoustic dividing screen and new flooring to the Dooley Suite, refurbishment and expansion of the Wiseman Room and replacement of the play area.
  • The cellar was completely re-equipped by our brewery supply partner, Carlsberg Marstons who have signed a new 5 year sponsorship deal with the club.
  • Further works have started in this lockdown to replace the roof and create a new toilet block, including a much needed ladies facility at the north end of the clubhouse. This involves re-locating the referees facility and re-modelling the the changing rooms.
  • As soon as we could we re-opened on July 4th with a pop-up pub the Social Distance Inn. The size of the club and pitch side area allowed us to create a Covid Secure area and proved and extremely popular and safe food and drink offering to members and local residents. We registered at least 1100 different visitors with many returning again and again to enjoy pitch side al fresco dining and eating
  • As soon as we could we re-started rugby training under the strict RFU return to play protocols providing some outdoor activity and physical fitness for our rugby members and resident inclusive rugby club the Typhoons.
  • A highlight of this included mini-junior rugby training. Over 400 children registered and with a dedicated set of volunteers provided a much-needed community service. Mini-Junior rugby continued as safely as possible apart from during national lock down periods.
  • The Artificial Grass Pitch was also open apart from periods of national lockdown and again served the Preston community well with a much increased level of booking for both adult and youth football training.
  • Pitch II is to have new drainage and the topsoil from the “mound” in the north-east corner of the playing fields will be used to improve the playing surface. This work is to commence in April with a view to having the pitch ready for next season.
  • We are hosting the Lancashire Vaccination Centre which on some days has “jabbed” 900 people and has been good in raising our profile in the Community.

So what does the future hold?  This season 2020-21 has been cancelled by the RFU. Our aim would be emerge from the current lock down with current building works complete ready to commence training.  We foresee a summer of rugby activity in terms of training and possible modified rugby matches with less contact.  This would then lead into the new season starting in September. 

On the hospitality front:

  • We are gearing up to relaunch the Social Distance Inn from a refurbished kitchen and bar area. This will be trading as The Terrace Bar @ Hoppers and as restrictions are eased over the summer will build on the success of the Social Distance Inn.
  • The old main entrance and Wainwright Bar are to be refurbished ready to be brought into use as and when loosened restrictions allow. The Wainwright Bar is likely to be re-named reflecting this.
  • As the main Dooley Suite is likely to be taken up the vaccination centre until late August a marquee will be erected to the south of the squash courts. This can accommodate 175+ for food and drink. There are already a number of weddings and other functions booked in but more can be accommodated. Contact for details of how you or your firm can celebrate coming out of lockdown.
  • Longer term there are plans to enhance the pitchside areas to increase capacity and make it less weather dependent. These plans depend on cash availability and feedback from this summer’s trading and we would look to implement them before spring 2022.

Our intention would be to look at sponsorship and advertising renewals from June onwards in anticipation of this new season. All being well hospitality will also be possible at home games from this point on.  We have maintained all advertising boards in position from last season. We hope the above has given you a flavour of the high levels of activity we have managed to maintain when allowed by Government restrictions.

So hop on down to the Hoppers and we look forward to enjoying the post pandemic future with friends old and new.

Martin Hothersall 
Preston Grasshoppers RFC

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