The dawn of a new era for the Vandals

Fylde Vandals 19 Garstang 2nds 12

All good things must come to an end and during the summer of 2019 the tenure of the EPD did just that. In the many, many years that Sean Townsend has held the Vandals’ reins promotions have been gained, cups have been won and relegations have befallen this proud team but he was the one thing that held everything together. Managing a team is a pretty thankless task but Sean did a fantastic job for so long and I think I can speak for all the players who have pulled on Vandals’ shirts over the years and say thanks for everything you’ve done for the team and the club in general.

So with the EPD no more, enter the EPC. The Elite Performance Council, Ben James, Tony Rawlinson and Mark Worsley that is. Their first task was to appoint this season’s skipper and with Ali Atkinson having a garden big enough to cope with the end season Captain’s BBQ the task was complete. Congratulations Ali and all the best for the new season.

A new era had definitely dawned as a previously unheard of pre-season friendly had been arranged for the Vandals against Garstang 2nds. Now the last time we played the Blues was a couple of seasons ago in the Plate final at Aspull RFC and this turned out to be one the highlights of recent Vandals history as they won the game lifting said plate. This would be a good test for the Fylde boys and an excellent way to dust of the cobwebs of the summer.

Alongside all the usual suspects Nathan Clegg and Gavin Butterworth made their Vandals debuts and Stefan Kuhn and Max Barrett were welcome returnees.

The game/season started pretty well for the new skipper as he bagged the team’s first try in usual Vandals fashion and this was complemented by a brilliant Paul Green conversion from way out wide. The Vandals continued to make good progress through the first half and soon doubled the score as Paul Green made a searing break through the midfield outpacing the fullback to go under the sticks. He added the easy extras. Nathan Clegg took one in the chops and had to retire from the game, Gavin Butterworth came on as his replacement.

Last season’s Achilles heel of giving away too many penalties was something the team were keen to work on and there were definitely fewer in the first period. This enabled the Vandals to keep the pressure on the visitors and they were unlucky not to get another score towards the end of the half. Great work from the big boys up front put Tony Rolo Rawlinson in prime position to grab a five pointer but he somehow managed to drop the ball as he was about to dot down. He’ll try and tell you the ball was reifed but……

Garstang came back strongly in the second half and quickly grabbed a try but the famed Vandals defence was also there to be seen. The line was secure and the scramble defence was terrier like and because of this they were able to dispel most of Gartstang’s threat. The EPC rang a few changes and on came the EFW, Elite Flag Waver, Sean Townsend and he soon got involved making a good break down the right wing.

The forwards were doing well and this soon translated into more points as Ben James became the beneficiary of some excellent grunt up front. Unfortunately the extras couldn’t be added this time. Garstang were still in the game and with Vandals defence for once not quite at the races they grabbed a try under the posts and added the 2 points on top. The game was pretty much done after that and it finished 19-12 to the Vandals. The team played well right across the board but Adam Todd stood out and had a tremendous afternoon at fullback.

Both teams will have gained a lot from this runout. The Vandals can certainly build on it and look forward to a hopefully successful season. Thanks to Garstang for making the trip over to The Woodlands and good luck for the rest of your season. The Vandals start their league campaign with a home game against Littleborough so let’s start as we mean to go on and get that first big W.

Fylde Vandals – Damian King, Chris Cardwell, Rob King, Ali Atkinson (c), Dave Porter, Richard Todd, Jack King, Ben James, Phil Swindells, Paul Green, Stefan Kuhn, Tony Rawlinson, Cecil Holland, Nathan Clegg, Adam Todd, Gavin Butterworth, Max Barrett, Sean Townsend