WEST Hartlepool are back in pre-season training – but it is a bunch of old campaigners who are dominating talk at Brinkburn.
West kicked off training for their National Three (North) campaign last night, still on a high from their North One East triumph.
But it is champions from two decades ago who are going to be in the spotlight on Friday.
West are to stage a 3-2-1 celebration dinner at a marquee at Brinkburn to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a special squad who won promotion from the Third Division to the First Division in three memorable seasons.
The event is the brainchild of Kevan Oliphant, who is the current director of rugby but two decades back was the team’s quicksilver full-back.
“They were great times and the vast majority from the squads of that era are coming to the dinner,” said the 44-year-old.
“It will be fantastic for the lads to talk over old times again.
“But when we set out to do this, our aim was to get a lot of people there, whether they were first XV or fourth XV.
“We weren’t just after players, we wanted supporters, management, sponsors and people from the current era to come along to celebrate what was a special time for the club.”
Only a handful of tickets remain for the dinner and Oliphant urged anyone who wants to go to act fast.
“We’re almost sold out,” he said.
“The response to this has been unbelievable.
“We’ve found some archive material from the promotion years, whether it’s been photographs, programmes, newspaper cuttings – we’ve even got hold of a couple of editions of a Tyne Tees TV show called the Back Page which showed the football goals and rugby highlights on a Sunday afternoon. “We’re looking to see if we can show some of them before the dinner.
“We’ve got a raffle and auction and our star item is Dan Carter’s signed All Blacks jersey.” The 3-2-1 dinner is just part of a weekend of activities at Brinkburn.
The club are holding a beer festival in the marquee on Saturday from 2pm to 11pm. “I think there are something like 25 real ales on offer and for those who are not beer drinkers there is a big choice of wines.
“Tickets are only £10 and for that you get four chits and there are are also a couple of bands on in the marquee on the night.
“There is also a funfair on tomorrow night, all day Saturday and Sunday. It promises to be a great weekend.”
l FOR ticket info for the 3-2-1 dinner or West Beerfest, visit the club website at www.sportnetwork.net