GRAHAM DAWE has revealed he had already planned pre-season ready to give Plymouth Albion the best possible chance of pushing for a return to the Championship.
The former England hooker, who was surprisingly asked by the new owners of the club to stand down at the start of this week, already had warm-up games pencilled in with Jersey (away), Cornish Pirates (home and away) and Exmouth (home) and a training schedule set out.
Dawe had also been talking to his players for the last few months about whether they would be willing to stay at the club so that as soon as a budget was confirmed he would be ready to get his key players signed up.
In addition, the club had also met with kit suppliers so that as soon as they got the go-ahead they could place their order to prevent the problems they have had in recent years with shirts not arriving in time for the new season. The coaching staff were also planning a school holiday programme for youngsters.
However, the new owners of Albion, Dave Venables and Bruce Priday, opted not to ask Dawe for any information about his players, about pre-season plans or another arrangements put in place before telling him he was not wanted.
It remains to be see if the new owners will continue with the pre-season games set up or whether the other clubs will still want to play Albion.
“The current board had a two-year programme in place to try and get back to the Championship and we were only halfway through that,” said Dawe, on why he had started planning.
“We started talking to players in February about next season. At that time the club were talking to potential investors and it was all about going down a solvent route.
“Players wanted to know about their futures, so I explained to certain players where I would see them sitting in a future squad.
“Obviously when we were talking to players we could only do it hypothetically but we wanted them to know that if things worked out that there was a future for them at Plymouth.
“But unfortunately all that effort has now gone to waste.”
That is not the only effort that appears to have gone to waste.
Dawe and his coaching staff’s work in putting a new squad together and developing them also looks like a waste now with many likely to leave Brickfields.
Albion’s former director of rugby admitted he felt he had a special squad on his hands.
“Because of the age, ambition and talent of the squad it was one that could serve the club for years.
“It’ll be very hard to get a squad like that again. The balance of it was spot on. You always expect a small turnover of players every season for various reason but we would have been adding to it from a position of strength.”
Dawe is considering paying to watch his team play Hartpury College at Brickfields today. His players want him to attend.
Team manager Simon Hicklin will be looking after the team against Hartpury, alongside injured club captain Jake Murphy.
Hicklin has himself decided to leave Brickfields in May when his contract ends. He was the only members of Albion’s backroom staff who did have a contract.
“If circumstances had been different, I would have stayed,” said Hicklin, who is set to move to Dorset.
“I’ve been involved with Albion all my life. My dad played for the club and I was a ball-boy and played for the club. I’ve been involved as team manager since 2010.”