Welcome to “Del’s Deliberations”…

Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Derek, a rugby enthusiast and reporter based in Ayrshire.  I don’t know if I’ll keep “Del’s Deliberations” as the title, but the only catchy title I could think of was “Derek’s Drivel” and that seems to be taken already!
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I’ve been a dual code rugby supporter since 2007 when I took my first tentative steps into rugby league after several years on an union-only diet.  And since you generally don’t last long as an ordinary supporter in grass roots rugby, they had to find me something to do.  Which is where the other tag comes in.
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I joined the committee of Irvine RFC in 2010 and in my first year spent my match days keeping score at home matches and occasionally, when they were really scraping the barrel, running touch.  At the end of that season I turned up at Ayrshire Storm RLFC’s first match of the 2011 rugby league season, looking forward to getting back to just relaxing and enjoying the game again for a while, only to find they wanted me to work behind the scenes for them too.
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My role with the Storm gradually evolved into that of the club’s official match reporter.  This career got off to a somewhat inauspicious start at the club’s second home game against the then seven-time champions Edinburgh Eagles (the Eagles are basically the “Real Madrid” of Scottish rugby league).  I thought I’d got my preparations spot on having armed myself with a clipboard and plenty of paper but I had reckoned without the pouring rain which made my writing increasingly difficult to read owing to running ink, and after persevering to half time I ended up watching the rest of proceedings from the bar.  (Fortunately the design of the Irvine clubhouse is quite advantageous to the fair weather supporter.)
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Anyway.  Apart from putting one Storm player’s nose out of joint after reporting him as throwing a “wastefully forward” pass, I managed to get through that summer without embarassing myself further, and my work got me appointed to do the reports for Irvine as well.  They even got me one of those fancy Weather Writer clipboards so I could write up the action in the aforementioned pouring rain, which was awfully good of them.  And that has been the cycle of my rugby life ever since.
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The seasons to come for both Ayrshire Storm and Irvine are set to be exciting ones, so there’s never been a better time to start this blog and showcase both clubs, and those they meet along the way, to the wider world.
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The teams in Scottish rugby league’s top flight are about as evenly matched as they’ve ever been, with each of the four harbouring ambitions of lifting the trophy in August.  Champions Aberdeen Warriors naturally start as favourites, and underlined this by trouncing Glasgow Panthers 52-18 in their opening match, which just happened to be a replay of last season’s Grand Final.  The Panthers, already hurting from that defeat, will now be more determined than ever to land that elusive first title, and a 34-26 victory over Edinburgh Eagles at the weekend tells you everything you need to know about what damage they can do.
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That just leaves the Storm – I’ve dealt with the Eagles already – who finally broke their trophy duck last season, three years after agonisingly squandering a 34-point lead in the Plate Final in their inaugural season back in 2010, and are looking to go one better this year by getting to the Grand Final and winning it.  These ambitions took a slight knock at the weekend with defeat in their opening game, but with only a brief pre-season and several new faces in the lineup it was always going to be a big ask to hit the ground running.
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So, with everyone having their own point to prove, needless to say it’s going to be an exciting summer of rugby league up here.
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Interesting times are also afoot for Irvine, with national league rugby returning to Marress for the first time in three years.  Most of the teams they will be up against are familiar faces from previous years, but there are first league meetings with Hawick YM – four years after they knocked us out of the Shield – and West of Scotland, who appear to have fallen on hard times of late.  After winning the league and the West Regional Shield, as well as heartbreakingly losing in the semis of the National Shield to Preston Lodge – another of next season’s opponents – Irvine will be hungry for more success and with a history of winning back-to-back promotions, I wouldn’t bet against them being there or thereabouts again this season.
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So that’s the scene set (I hope).  I intend to post my match reports on here, which I hope you’ll enjoy – there’s certainly never a dull moment from my point of view – as well as previews and other things that might be of interest.  All feedback in this direction is more than welcome, feel free to leave a comment.
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It now only remains for me to say, if you’re still reading this far down, watch this space, and thanks for your attention!
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