There is a new man at the helm of Stamford Rugby Club and with him comes a new-found ambition.
Former Peterborough Lions player and coach Stef Arlow is the new head coach of Stamford, taking over from Richard Mardling and Stamford Endowed School’s head of rugby David Laventure who helped them win promotion into Midlands Two East North.
Arlow was in talks about taking over at the club last season and officially took control of playing affairs at the start of pre-season.
After a month of hard work, the new coach and his players are convinced they can have a real tilt at winning the league title and gaining promotion.
Arlow said: “I am not the most qualified coach in the world but I know what it takes to win. I have played in teams with internationals and top players, in teams that didn’t know how to lose and I want to bring that mentality here.
“I just want what is best for the players and for the club.
“I am trying to bring a level of professionalism to the club because the small things can make a massive difference in the game.”
To be fair to Stamford, last season was a highly successful first year in Midlands Two East North, a season perhaps defined by being on the wrong side of fine margins – losing a handful of games by less than a try’s worth of points. However, after Christmas they won eight out of 11 league games played and finished the season by beating Oakham at their President’s Day.
During the off-season Arlow has brought in a couple of new players in key positions, adding Spalding centre Gareth Ramsden to the ranks as well as number eight Rob Shingles.
Last season’s skipper Matt Albinson has moved on but game winner Robbie Smith remains. In recent years the scrum-half has been the spark to ignite Stamford’s attack, scoring and creating some scintillating tries and he will be a vital cog once again.
One of the big aims of the new coach is to improve the standing of the club both on the field and off it.
Stamford will continue to run a second team but Arlow insists there will be an easier pathway between the two teams, with players not selected for the first XV getting game time in the reserves.
Arlow and the team are also looking to rally the support of the town and get bigger audiences down to Hambleton Road.
Last season, Stamford’s young guns played some of the most attractive rugby in the league, bringing entertainment to the modest but ever-growing support.
Arlow said: “We need support from the town. We want people to come down here and support the club, bring their kids and whole family, have a drink and make a day of it.”