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Reds' supporters are their best hope

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

Redruth and the Cornish All Blacks benefit from their co-existence in National League Two South  Simon Bryant

Redruth and the Cornish All Blacks benefit from their co-existence in National League Two South Simon Bryant

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The supporters can be a demanding bunch at Redruth, but during the club's darkest days they always come through.

They expect high standards on the pitch. Minor mistakes are met with audible groans at the Recreation Ground, but the reason becomes clear at times such as these.

They react so strongly because they care so deeply for their club. And for the second time in as many years, it is now down to them to find the means to help their players financially.

Redruth are once again unable to pay their players this season and a local business is trying to lead a consortium who might be able to pay the squad's expenses.

Last year, supporters contributed to a fund that paid the players £28,000 towards their wages.

A lot of good people were hurt by the suspected racial abuse that happened at the Rec earlier this season. The club was praised by the RFU for their swift condemnation and action in response to the incident.

Their openness and honesty with this latest setback has also impressed. Club secretary Roger Watson said: "We have chosen to put this in the public domain. We felt that we owed to the players, our supporters and the public.

"Hopefully, people will see the problems that we are facing and come in to help us – a lot of people have already pledged to do that."

The strength of Redruth's support is evident in their attendance figures. They are the best supported club in National League Two South, averaging over 900 spectators every game.

"Even if you take National League One as well, there are only one or two clubs that are better attended than ours," added Watson. "We are confident we are going to get there but it could take us another 18 months or two years to get in a position where we don't have creditors."

The Reds' rivals at Launceston, the Cornish All Blacks, have also endured difficult financial times. They went into voluntary liquidation in 2010.

Redruth's plight has been a huge concern for those at Polson Bridge. The games between the two sides generate crucial income for both clubs and they motivate one another over the course of a season.

"It is the first time in 20 years that I tuned into Radio Cornwall," said All Blacks head coach Spike Rainford this week.

"They are pretty much in the situation we were in two seasons ago. They have inherited a massive debt from years gone by and it is a vicious circle and it becomes a downward spiral. I hope the best for them and I feel for them as a club.

"It is two seasons since we went into liquidation and it still has a major impact on the club. You've got to keep working at it."

It could take Redruth even longer if they continue to repay all of their creditors, something Launceston were unable to achieve.

The players' loyalty will now best tested beyond reasonable means. They will be rightly frustrated at being put in second place to creditors, despite the club's excellent attendance figures and reported profits of £40,000 last year.

Director of rugby Adrian Edwards, who has led the club superbly since taking over in the summer, has called for understanding, if some of his senior men decide to leave.

He said: "The players do understand but, at the same time, they probably think it should all be sorted by now when we've got the best gates in our league, National Two North and almost National One as well – they find it difficult to comprehend.

"When you are paying off debt from previous years, it is very difficult. We don't have the amount of sponsorship we used to have, or the income.

"A lot of people say players should do it for the love of it, but if you go off on a Friday at three o'clock in the afternoon and get back at two o'clock in the morning after a Saturday game, it is a big commitment.

"Then, you also have to train on your other nights off – we expect them to do that at this level. The way they have gone about their business so far has been outstanding."

And how does it affect this season's push for the top of the league? Their challenge might fade if players leave, but could they even afford promotion, if their form improved further still?

They play league leaders Henley Hawks today. Watson said: "You are never going to say that you don't want to win a league. We are in it to win it and the boys will push as hard as they can.

"Promotion would bring other problems but only ones we would need to think about as and when they arose. The boys are doing tremendously but are still quite a few points behind Henley. It should make Saturday an interesting game."

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