DARLINGTON Mowden Park are expecting a bumper home crowd as they begin life at the town’s arena against Bromsgrove tomorrow, writes MARK SMITH.
All 30 corporate boxes have been sold, pre-match lunches are fully booked and co-coach Danny Brown insists the town is “buzzing” ahead of the National Two North clash.
Brown said: “There is a huge amount of excitement around the club.
“The signs have gone up this week and that really does start to make it feel like our new home.
“We are all working hard to sort the finishing touches but the posts are up, the changing rooms are ready and we have laid the pitch out to the maximum possible dimensions given the way we want to play the game.” Summing up the mood around the town, Brown added: “We want to turn the arena into a hub for the community rather than being a white elephant.
“When we have been around town and people see us in our Mowden gear they are stopping us in the street, asking us when the games are and wishing us all the best.
“There is a real buzz around the place.
“The public are getting behind us, we have 350 people in the hospitality boxes, another 190 booked in for lunch and a lot of interest in match tickets.
“It will be our biggest crowd for years, and it is great for the players.”
Back to the business of putting a team on the field, Brown will be without lock Guy van den Dries due to university commitments, centre Chris Peace with a thumb injury and skipper Junior Fagalilo who is at a wedding.
Brown added: “Those losses will hurt us, but we have faith in the players and they realise what a privilege it is to be involved in a big occasion like this.
In National One, Blaydon aim to halt a two-game losing run as they welcome Wharfedale, director of rugby Micky Ward deprived of the services of back-rowers Rob Bell and Ben Morris but boosted by returns for Jason Smithson, Keith Laughlin and Gavin Jones.
Tynedale are at Coventry, while in National Two North Westoe’s relegation fight sees them at home to fellow strugglers Birmingham Solihull.
In women’s rugby, meanwhile, South Shields’ Katy McLean lines up for England in the first World Sevens Series in Houston, Texas.