Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club ready to welcome back supporters for friendly clash with higher-league Bishop's Stortford
Come 3pm tomorrow a wait of 455 days across 15 months will end as Bury St Edmunds supporters get to see their team in 15-a-side action at the GK IPA Haberden once again.
National League One side Bishop’s Stortford will provide the opposition again as a three-game adapted contact series to get the Wolfpack playing again following the Covid-19 break closes in front of fans.
Director of rugby Nick Wakley admits he cannot even recall the scorelines of the first two games – the first behind closed doors at Bury before last weekend’s trip to Bishop’s Stortford. But both were said to see lower-league Bury within a score.
While the scoreline will also not be important to him tomorrow, it will certainly be a chance for supporters to get a glimpse of what a new era on the pitch will look like.
Although having been said to not officially start his new Bury role as head coach until June, Jacob Ford – brother of England player George – has not been able to resist being involved in the games.
Meanwhile, a host of new players signed across the last 12 months have been able to get their first action in a green-and-yellow hooped shirt.
Due to other commitments, being a busy professional player agent nowadays, former England man Tom Varndell, who is also the club’s attacking coach, has not been one of those. But the Premiership’s all-time record try scorer was training with the club this week and the winger was due to be assessed last night to see whether he is ready to take to the pitch tomorrow.
“There is a good chance he is going to be involved but we will see how he trains before making that call as he has had a long time off,” said Wakley, who is concentrating on his director of rugby role now, having combined it with being head coach before Ipswich School’s Ford was recruited.
“He will be at the game to introduce himself to the Bury faithful though.”
Wakley, who has been delighted with how they have shown they can go ‘toe to toe’ with a National 1 side across both games so far, is relishing the prospect of seeing a home crowd back tomorrow.
He said: “It will be an absolute joy. I have felt ever since I got here that we are a fantastically supported club.
“There is nothing better than seeing the stand full and the corner where the clubhouse is and hearing the crowd cheering us.
“We have been starved of that support for a long time and it is going to be a joy to hear a bit of noise coming from there.
“The focus really isn’t still win at all costs, it is actually returning to normality and putting some things in place.
“It has just been great to see the players enjoying themselves again.”
* The club is offering free entry tomorrow (3pm) but asking people wishing to take advantage of food and drink on sale to pre-book their socially-distanced stand seats or picnic benches to order from, or bring their own chairs. Pre booking seats can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org