Hornets gear up for new season with family open day

This article was written for Rochdale Online on 14/1/2017. I attended the open day at the Rochdale Hornets and interviewed club staff and fans.

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Rochdale Hornets continued preparation for the new Kingstone Press Championship season with a ‘Home with the Hornets’ open day.

Around 50 supporters attended the event on Saturday (14 January) during which they had the opportunity to explore the Crown Oil Arena, quiz key members of staff, and take part in the club’s team photo. Youngsters were also able to enjoy a training session with club coaches.

Morale is high in the Hornets camp after last year’s promotion final win in Toulouse and on Sunday the club hosts Super League side Salford Red Devils.

New CEO Adam Bates said the open day was an important way to continue the momentum. He said: “Today was an opportunity for our fans to come down and have a look behind the scenes at the club. For a members-owned club like Hornets we rely heavily on our members and we want to be as open and transparent with them as possible so they really feel a part of the club.”

Head coach Alan Kilshaw echoed the CEO’s sentiments. He said: “Events like this are massive because I think we need to attract a younger audience. With the work we’re doing in schools and other projects hopefully it means the Hornets brand will be out there.”

Visitors were able to join in the club’s team photo, and were later given an all-access tour of the Crown Oil Arena by chairman Mark Wynn. The tour took supporters into the Hornets dressing room, the impressive heritage room, and pitchside.

The event came ahead of Sunday’s friendly with Salford, and Kilshaw believes his side are ready. He said: “Every team says their pre-season has gone well, but ours really has. We’ve got some good facilities at Hopwood Hall and at Warrington Wolves’ training ground so the preparation has been smooth. We’re in good physical shape and the lads have shown a lot of commitment and desire.

“We want to win every game even if it’s a friendly. We don’t fear anyone and the lads want to have a go against a Super League team that we all aspire to.

“There’s some really tough teams we’re playing this season like Oldham, Swinton, Batley Bulldogs and Bradford Bulls and we’re excited.

“We want fans to get behind us when it’s raining, when it’s sunny, when we win, when we lose. We’ve got to be united and have the town behind us. There’s no better time to come and watch us after our promotion and there’s a good buzz around the town for sport in general. Hopefully we can be at the top of that tree.”

Adam Bates added: “We’re expecting a bumper crowd tomorrow after our promotion, and Salford just won the million pound game last year so there’s a buzz around them too. We’ve had to look at a contingency plan in case we fill the main stand.

“I think we will do better than expected this season. The lads have been in training since November and they’ve gelled well. I don’t see why we can’t compete in this league.

“Fans should get down to Spotland and get behind the lads. It’s an exciting season and if you want to get involved in anyway drop down to the club and we’ll be happy to talk to anyone.”

Fans Tony and Cath Cox attended and said they had an excellent morning. Tony said: “It’s been a really interesting event and we’re looking forward to a good season. Our daughter Sophie Cox was the first girl to play rugby league at Wembley, and the open day gave us the opportunity to bring our grandson Jack to the club and see Sophie’s picture.”

Jack added: “I really enjoyed the training we got to do outside.”

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