Newsome Panthers ARLFC are about to embark on their next chapter in what has been an overwhelmingly positive story in the last two years since head coach Richie Hawkyard took over.
The club has not lost one league fixture yet under Hawkyard going both seasons undefeated and winning all five trophies the club played in last season.
The former Swinton Lions legend has changed the Panthers’ fortunes around as they now look to blast their way through the Yorkshire Men’s Rugby League Premier Division.
The club has been promoted two divisions from Division Two which they won easily. Despite the rise up the league, Hawkyard’s ambitions have not dimmed – and he wants to see another five trophies in the cabinet this year!
He said: “To be promoted to the Premier Division is what we thought we deserved. We dominated Division Two and wanted to really push on up the leagues. We played a number of Premier sides last year in the cups and beat them so we are very confident we can hold our own.
“Our aim is to get into the National Conference League (NCL) so being promoted up to the Premier is a baby step for us.
“I’m very ambitious as a coach. I always was as a player and I’m no different now. Just because we are jumping up two leagues doesn’t mean I just want us to turn up and just get by.
“I want us challenging. My target is another five trophies this season. That’s what I’ve told the players. If you don’t aim high why are you doing it? We are a club that wants to be ambitious and play at the highest level we can which is the NCL.”
Hawkyard has strengthened his team this year with new signings and said pre-season has so far gone pretty well.
He said: “We have signed seven new players for this season, they are all good lads and good players who will add quality and competition for places to our squad.
“So far pre-season has gone well. I would have liked for us to get more ball in hand work training done but we’ve found it hard to get pitch time with the weather and not being able to book a 3G or 4G pitch.
“However what we have done is got the players super fit. They are fit players anyway but this extra fitness work we have done could make all the difference.
“I’m delighted with the dedication I’ve seen so far. The lowest numbers we’ve had at a training session so far is 25 lads and we have 40 at the open age signed on. So the numbers turning up to training have been impressive.”
Hawkyard has wanted to turn Newsome into as near to a professional club as it’s possible for an amateur club to be. He has high standards and his lofty ambitions have certainly paid off.
“We started off training twice a week and now we are doing three sessions a week,” said Hawkyard. “These are lads who have regular jobs.
“We are running it like we are a semi-pro club and, in the long run, that is going to help us. I’m proud of the lads and I just can’t wait until we get going now.”