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A very good evening to you,

There doesn’t need to be a reminder of how 2020 has affected our personal, professional and recreational lives.  As the year comes to an end, below I will inform you of what has been happening at your club despite the obvious lack of training, matches and uncertainty over the last few months.  

Operation – New Clubhouse

Having been successful at the Stage 1 application early in the year, we were provided with over 30 actions as part of the final Stage 2 process.  We have been supported throughout the process by the RLWC2021 legacy project lead, St Helens council and our project management team.  Some of the actions included producing a five year business plan, a programme of use, project development costs, risk registers, proposed layouts, community based assessments and a raft of other measures and submissions.  

We are in a fantastic position with one a handful of small actions left to complete and this is largely in part to David Hobin, an experienced project manager who has offered his services free of charge.  His eye for detail and professional submissions have impressed our partners and I am delighted to reveal that we are on schedule for our proposed project being supported for board approval within the RLWC2021 committee.  

We have been approached by several community groups including the emergency services who are interested in using any facility as a lay up point for their crews.

We have a pre-planning meeting set for January and final approval in February.  From there we will be in a position to finalise official consultation and officially submit planning permission.  

This, as you can imagine, is the largest project in the clubs history and with a potential to invest in our members for generations to come, we will be working all the way through the Christmas period to ensure all our actions are complete before the pre-planning meeting in January.  The timeframes we are working towards if all goes to plan will be to start the build in the second quarter of 2021.  Once we have received direction from the pre-planning meeting, I will provide members with a full update, likely a presentation via Zoom.  

VIY project

I trust you will have kept up to date with the regular updates on our website and Facebook page which has captured the complete transformation of the existing clubhouse.  Whilst regularly highlighting those volunteers who have made this happen, on Saturday 12th December, we were able to facilitate the accreditation of 10 young members from the U14s, U16s and U18s.  The children displayed their competence under theory and practical based assessments resulting in a City and Guilds Award that is externally recognised. A huge achievement and following the 6 week project, delivered in a Covid compliant environment, we have received the following from Volunteer It Yourself manager Ben Fisher - addressed to vice chairman and project lead, Billy Vaughan,

“Hi Billy,

As we draw to the end of the year and the final works on our project together, I wanted to take a moment to say a huge thank you to you, the committee and all of your volunteers on behalf of VIY. Your effort, enthusiasm and partnership helped us create a fantastic month (and more) of activity that is a real testament to the team spirit at Portico Vine.

Through difficult circumstances, not least the every changing guidance around covid, the entire VIY team has been impressed by the number of volunteers who consistently showed up and got stuck in. Equally impressive was the number of hours collectively put into the project - which must be one of the best efforts we've seen!

The welcome you gave our mentors was unrivalled, and made a particular impression on Paul Surridge for his very first VIY project (and thanks to you definitely not his last). The young people who volunteered their time are a real credit to their families and the club, and were an absolute pleasure to work with. And thank you to all the adult volunteers and family members who supported and made the whole thing possible.

Everyone at VIY wishes you the best start to the new year as you enjoy the fruits of your labour in the clubhouse and changing rooms, and we look forward to seeing what you have planned next!


Your lead coaches at each age group have been sent details of a planned open day which will be hosted in the New Year so you can see the transformation and upgrade for yourselves (subject to change in line with Covid regulations).

Annual Awards

In the absence of presentation nights this year, the club purchased each registered child a small trophy to recognise their contribution at the start of the season and their involvement in the staged return of training over the summer/autumn period. Lead coaches were provided with the relevant number of trophies so if you are yet to receive one, please make contact with the coaches.

Unfortunately we also had to cancel a planned community and volunteer night in November.  However, on Wednesday 23rd December, I will be announcing via our various platforms the winners of our lifetime award, volunteer of the year, members who have become club ambassadors and a couple of other surprises too.

Return to Play Strategy

We have been following the national direction provided by the RFL throughout and the most recent instruction is that a staged return to action will be permitted from week commencing January 4th 2021.  The first two weeks will be limited contact and full contact re-introduced from week commencing 18th January.  

The club are currently assessing all of the requirements required to enable us to meet the mitigation measures and insurances to ensure we are in a position to offer training sessions.  We will also await an update from the North West Counties committees.

As ever, we will continue to have the upmost respect for your individual decision and that of your child should you wish to/not be involved. Your safety is our priority.

As recently as yesterday, the virus and its variants show no signs of slowing down and despite a vaccination process being of obvious encouragement, I’ve little doubt the RFL will be keeping a close eye on developments over the next couple of weeks.  Committee decisions will be disseminated to the head/deputy head coach for wider circulation.

Registration and Subscription Fees

The registration for season 2021 opens on Monday 4th January, the link to register/re-register each child is above.

1. Each child that played in 2020 will need to be RE-REGISTERED using the link above by the parent/guardian that registered them onto the system last season and the same email address and password must be used to login.

2 Any new players that have not played before will need to be registered as a NEW PLAYER by a parent/guardian again using the link above. When registering as a new player a passport size photograph and copy of I D (birth certificate/passport) will also need to be uploaded.

3. Any players wishing to transfer will need to complete a transfer form signed by their previous coach/registration officer.

4. Any player who is a FREE AGENT (someone who has not played/registered for another club for 2 years or more) would need to fill in a Player Registration Form and forward with a passport size photograph and copy of I D (birth certificate/passport) to the coach of the team they wish to join or email Karen Smith  -

Subscription fees remain voluntary and are not mandated by the club at this time. We will assess the situation again in the new year and communicate any changes at the earliest opportunity. Once again, a huge thanks to those who have been able and willing to continue to support us during the last few months with voluntary payments.

Head Coach

One of our main principles that we regularly remind our volunteers is that family comes first, then work commitments and then the club.  It is imperative we look out for the wellbeing of our volunteers and must support their own decisions made on a personable level in relation to priorities one and two.

You may recall previous Head Coach, Kieran Lacey stood down at the AGM earlier this year but was voted in as new Head Coach Anthony Rotherham’s deputy.

Over recent weeks, citing personal reasons Kieran has stood down from his positon within the committee and Gaz Friar was temporarily posted into the deputy head coach role, pending ratification at the next AGM as per the clubs constitution.

In December, Anthony and Gaz have agreed to swap roles again due to work commitments and personal reasons.  This was ratified by the Snr Committee, again temporary until the next AGM (Friday 5th February).  In summary, new head coach: Gaz Friar, new deputy head coach: Anthony Rotherham.

Gaz, Anthony and Kieran continue to commit as much time as they can to their age groups and wider responsibilities.  We have a very good team in place for what will be some of the most exciting times ahead in the clubs history.

Contactless System

I would like to thank Secretary Sean Furlong for his creativity and innovation by organising the purchase of a new contactless payment system which we will adapt from next season onwards.

The system will help all our volunteers, players and families reduce the contact between each other. By the touch of a few buttons, orders can be inputted and card payment taken. Following successful trials, we are aiming to accept subscription fees, food and drink purchases and as it’s fully mobile, we can use as part of future fundraising events.

Sponsorship and Fundraising

The club are exploring the option of having a new standardised kit for all teams. This is an ongoing piece of work and we are aware some age groups were sponsored to purchase new kits that ultimately weren’t worn very often. The transition to a new club kit will take a couple of seasons but we are very keen to ensure the identity of the club is obvious across all age groups and reduce the number of variants.

The bingo lotto was an overwhelming success this year so thank you to all who have taken part. We aim to continue with this into 2021.

However, we are always on the look out for new and quirky ideas. So if you have any ideas, please let us know.

New Volunteers, Coaches and Players

We are actively recruiting new volunteers, coaches and players at the club. If you are interested or know of anyone who will be, please let us know.

Postponed Events

Having been forced to cancel our club sticker album photo shoot, mental health workshops, comedy evening, festival, family fun day and tag tournament, unfortunately we are still unable to rearrange. They are still part of our expansion plans and as soon as we can resurrect them, we will do.

Ahead of the Game

Ahead of the Game is a ground-breaking series of health workshops, delivered by an elite team of former professional Rugby League icons, to build young players’ mental fitness, resilience and confidence on – and off - the field.

Funded and developed by Movember, Ahead of the Game is being delivered by the independent charity Rugby League Cares, supported by Saints Foundation,  as part of RLWC2021.  All community clubs within RLWC2021 host city areas qualify for these workshops for free.

Saints have approached our club and asked if we could trial the workshops of which we are hugely grateful for the offer and will be delighted to support them.

Ahead of the Game will be delivered to all players aged between 12 and 18 years. They will also work with us to arrange an evening session for all parents and guardians: hosted in partnership with our team of former professional players.

All your young players who take part will get a free bobble hat and water bottle at their workshop: additionally, all parents/guardians and coaches will receive helpful information to take home on how to support their young players’ mental fitness at home.  

Finally, thank you for your continued support. I wish you and your loved ones the very safest of times on what is an obviously different Christmas this time.

All the best,

Hobes 💚💛


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