Wharfedale coach Tom McGee admits that the memory of his side’s dismal defeat by Tynedale is still bugging him.
He demonstrated his displeasure by publicly apologising to his club’s fans last week before putting his squad through a punishing training session.
It proved so severe that one player confessed to McGee it was the toughest thing he had ever done in his life.
McGee had hoped that Saturday’s match at Fylde would have provided his men with the chance to get the Tynedale game out of their systems, but torrential rain washed away such hopes.
However McGee did see a positive sign from his squad that suggests they want to put the record straight.
When the game was called off with standing water on the pitch, the players decided that they wanted to train on the artificial surface at Fylde.
“It would have been easy to go in the clubhouse, have a few drinks and enjoy the Christmas spirit, but instead they wanted to have a work out.” said McGee.
“Even Phil Woodhead who was there as a spectator joined in despite not having his kit. It was great to see the players wanting to put things right.
“We pride ourselves on being tough to beat but we weren’t against Tynedale. We let ourselves down.”
The postponement at Fylde – the game will now be played on Saturday, February 9 – meant that Adam Whaites’ long-awaited return to first-team action after a serious knee injury was put on ice.
McGee said: “Adam is an inspiration to us all with the way he has fought back from two huge setbacks in recent years.
“When Simon Horsfall was ruled out on Thursday night he put his hand up to play. His resolve and determination have ben first class.On the return of Tom been first class and having him in the group is an example to everyone.”
With injuries to Dan Hart, Woodhead, Scott Jordan, Aaron Myers and Chris Steel depleting his resources, McGee has agreed to bring stand-off Tom Barrett back to the club on loan.
“I had a call from Doncaster coach Clive Griffiths at the start of last week,” said McGee.
“Clive told me he was sending Tom out on loan and that he wanted to come back to Wharfedale.”
Barrett knows he will have to fight for his place, but he made a good start by scoring two tries and kicking five conversions for the Foresters in their 50-7 win over Bradford & Bingley Bar- barians.
Luke Gray, normally a full back, has worn the number ten shirt for much of the season and has been partnered at half back by James Gough.
“It isn’t an easy switch to make but Luke has worked hard to come to grips with having to make key decisions under pressure.
“We have tried to help him by using Gough as an extra kicking option to clear our lines,” said McGee.
The coach was hoping that scrum half Woodhead would come through Boxing Day’s game with North Ribblesdale unscathed after having to take eight weeks complete rest with tendonitis.
“We have a big period coming up in January with three home matches against Blackheath, Loughborough and Old Albanians and we need to be at our best. I will be reiterating to the players of the need to be tough to beat.
“We want sides coming to The Avenue knowing they are going to have a hard time. We don’t have the resources that other clubs have, but we do possess a very special club spirit.
“We have shown when beating the likes of Esher, Ealing, Fylde and Rosslyn Park, all top sides, what we are capable of. It is important that we instill a winning mentality and a ruthlessness in our play. We have to believe in ourselves and our ability to win games.
“We have got to hit the ground running when the season resumes. If we don’t turn up, like the Tynedale game, we will get beat.”
McGee added: “I enjoy being tested, I like being put under pressure and I want the players to be up for the fight too.
“We finished tenth last year and like any other coach I would love to finish in the top six, but the most important thing is to remember our ethos of being tough to beat in every match.
“The arrival of backs coack John Feeley has made a big difference.
“He spends hours looking at videos of games and spotting areas we can exploit. His experience and desire is rubbing off on others.”
McGee is also proud of the way Wharfedale continues to develop many of its own players.
“In the last few years the turnover of players has been phenomenal. Many like our former skipper Rob Baldwin have moved up to take professional contracts and all the time we have had younger players moving through the ranks like Lloyd Davies and Adam Mason who have come in to the side this season.
“It is important to bring in players and develop them so that the club continues to thrive in National Leage One.”