Wharfedale coach Jon Feeley has praised his players for their ability to implement new ideas.
After using a essentially forward-oriented game under his predecessor Tom McGee, the Greens have looked to play a more expansive game under former backs coach Feeley.
He said at the club’s annual dinner last Friday: “The players have taken on board a slightly different style of rugby and have opened up their skills.
“To paraphrase Einstein, rugby is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.
“The highlights of the season are obvious – the wins over Doncaster and Esher, and (chairman of rugby) Michael Harrison’s celebration on the touchline when we won at Richmond.
“Halfway through the season, we had 60 points, which is almost unknown territory.”
Feeley added: “I want to pay tribute to John Spencer (president), David Baker (chairman), our physios, who I demand miracles of, and Len Tiffany as I am always the first person to arrive in the changing room and the last one to leave, and he always says ‘Give of your best Jon’.
“And then there is Michael Harrison, who one afternoon rang me twice, sent me seven text messages, six e-mails and left me five answerphone messages, and still hadn’t covered everything there was to cover.
“He is the eternal grafter. And then there is Hedley Verity and Alex Howarth, plus Andy Hodgson, who also joined the coaching staff this season. I really appreciate their help.”
Harrison described the season as a curate’s egg, with Wharfedale winning 13 of their first 19 fixtures in SSE National League One, but losing eight of their next ten, starting with the 45-3 defeat at Rosslyn Park on January 26.
He said: “We played unbelievably up until Christmas, and we played some really good rugby after that – but only for 25 per cent of the time.
“We had injuries – but every team has them, so we cannot use that as an excuse.”
Wharfedale Foresters won the Yorkshire Prem-iership for a sixth time in seven seasons, which Harrison called a “remarkable thing to do”. He promised tougher fixtures for the second string next season, including Blaydon and Tynedale home and away, Cinderford home and away, Fleetwood away and the traditional match against North Ribblesdale’s first team.
He also praised the 70 or so players who attended the dinner, and gave the Kath Harrison Trophy (named after his mother) to fourth-team manager and captain Mick Greenwood.
Harrison said: “People generally owe the club but the club owes this man – there is no doubt about it.”
A unanimous choice as most-improved player was first-team winger Josh Prell, who also featured for Yorkshire under-20s, while Clubman of the Year (Damian Foley Trophy) went jointly to third-team managers Ed Walker and Sam Mason.
Harrison also praised the club’s fantastic team of groundstaff and car park attendants and programme editor Gordon Brown, for making their reading matter “the best on the circuit”.
First-team skipper Chris Steel agreed that the season had been a roller-coaster, beginning by losing all of their pre-season matches, but that they had held on strongly to their third-tier status for a remarkable 18th straight season.
Chairman David Baker, who revealed that 158 players had represented the club last season, reminded those attending that the club’s mission statement was to make Wharfedale the leading community rugby club in the country, upholding the core values of rugby in the community.
Spencer thanked sponsors Brook Taverner, Healthcare House, In-Site and Oldfield Electrical, and presented retired club statistician Bill Mann with a Value The Volunteer plaque on behalf of the Rugby Football Union.