Engage; All change at Romford & Gidea Park, but director of rugby Steve Barfoot eyes more success
PUBLISHED: 11:00 02 September 2017
Crow Lane club have lost Paul Bradley, Bamidele Coker and Charlie Wilkinson during the off-season
Romford & Gidea Park have made great strides over the last two campaigns and despite a summer of change this time around, director of rugby Steve Barfoot wants another season to remember.
Although the Crow Lane legend is still in place, a new coach has joined the club while several experienced and key players have moved on.
Jordan Wiggins is linking up with Park to help with the senior coaching alongside Dave Gilmore, but talented trio Paul Bradley, Bamidele Coker and Charlie Wilkinson have moved on, so Romford know building on their fourth-place finish in London Two North East last season may be tricky.
“Considering the start we made last time, we made good progress come the end of it,” said Barfoot.
“It is going to be tough for us initially because we have lost a few players and we will definitely miss them.
“Paul Bradley, Bamidele Coker and Charlie Wikinson have gone to Brentwood and we have a new coach, so it is all change.
“We are obviously disappointed to lose those three guys, but you have to let them go if they want to go elsewhere.
“If it doesn’t work out then they can always come back, but for us I think it will take us some time for things to gel, although once it does we will be fine.”
Only a poor start last season resulted in Romford missing out on finishing higher than fourth and they could have clinched third had they won on the last day at home to Woodford.
It wasn’t to be, however, yet a top-four finish and a cup final appearance was another solid campaign for Park, as they look to rebuild after relegation from London One North in 2015.
Barfoot feels they can push for more success this time, but knows a slow start is a danger despite their best efforts to prevent it.
He added: “I think we could find things tricky to begin with and a lot of other teams have recruited well over the summer.
“Sudbury have come down, so they will be strong and if we stay where we are then I will be happy.
“I don’t think it is feasible to go up money-wise, so if we can come third it will be another good season.”
A common problem for most local clubs is numbers for training and players being available at the weekend.
With Park several weeks into pre-season, Barfoot has been impressed with what he has seen so far and expects more success for the Crow Lane outfit over the next eight months.
He added: “Our numbers to training have been good and we have regularly been getting 30 plus. We are trying to build something and it does take time, but once things settle down we will be fine.”
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