Karl Curtis writes
There has certainly been plenty to be positive about during the first half of the season and the club is in good health compared to this time 12 months ago.
On the pitch, we have strong squads for both the first team and reserves, we're fortunate to have good coaches taking our training sessions and we have a committed management team in place who are enjoying the challenge of trying to get Cookham Dean back towards the top of the league.
Off the pitch, as our Chairman has already pointed out, our finances are looking a lot healthier and, without repeating Rory's words, we are very grateful to everybody, both inside and outside of the club, that has provided us with financial support this season.
As I write, the first team sit in 9th place in the RFL Senior Division, which, when taken at face value, doesn't sound too good considering that there are only 14 teams in the division. However, we have played the least number of games in the division and, with the exception of Theale, we still have to play everyone above us at least once between now and the end of the season so there is still plenty for us to play for in the new year.
It was always to going to be a season of transition on the pitch and the first half of the season has certainly been a 'finding out' time for Nigel and I but we both believe we're getting closer to what we feel is our strongest squad. To simply outline a couple of areas where we need to improve, I'd like to see us conceding fewer goals whilst at the same time scoring more up the other end.
We had a lot of new players join us in the Summer and all of them have contributed greatly during the first half of the season and we've also had a few players join us since the season started and Tom South, Simon Eaton, Kenny Eaton, Steve Eaton and Dean Knight have all undoubtedly made our pool of players much stronger, which can only be good for the club overall.
Additionally, I'm pleased to announce the signing of John Walters, a young striker who joins us from Holyport and who I'm sure will make his mark once he's found his feet at the Alfred Major. I'm sure everyone at Cookham Dean will join me in welcoming John to the club.
Another big positive for us this season is the fact that no less than 5 of our first team squad were selected to play for the RFL representative side in the National League System Cup. So, take a bow Ollie Webb, who also skippers the rep side, Dave Eales, Richard Webb, Paul Sharpe and Xavi Etienne, they all performed well over the two games and did us proud.
Gary has done a fantastic job in his first season in charge of the reserve side and can be rightly proud of his boys as they sit in 3rd place in the RFL Division 1 at Christmas. We're all hoping they can stay in the top 3 until the end of the season and gain promotion to the Premier Division. One thing we do know is they're certainly good enough to do it so let's hope they apply themselves correctly during the second half of the season and finish the job. Good luck lads!
All that remains for me to say now is I'd like to wish all of our players, supporters, officials and visitors to our web site a happy, healthy and prosperous new year and rest assured we'll be doing our utmost to ensure we finish as high up the table as possible!