DAN COLLIER felt the unsettling events in the final month of Plymouth Albion’s season brought the squad even closer together.
Albion went into administration and had 30 league points deducted and were sold to new owners, David Venables and Bruce Priday, who then asked coach Graham Dawe to stand down with two games to go, despite a successful first season back at the club.
The players, meanwhile, were told they would have to wait until the end of the season for contract talks.
But the squad dug deep and claimed victories over second-placed Hartpury College and champions Richmond in their final two matches to finish with an impressive 22 wins out of 30.
“We just had to group together as a team,” said lock Collier. “It made us a little bit closer.
“We all got behind Graham, as you could see from our last home game when we came out with our Graham Dawe tops on just to show our appreciation to the man.
“Graham is our coach and it was a shame he was let go with two games to go. I certainly wanted to finish the season with him.
“But overall it has just been a fantastic year. Everything has come together this year.
“That last game showed what this squad is about. It just showed the fans that we are willing to play and die for them. At the end of the day, they have been a pleasure this year.”
Collier and the team were outstanding against Richmond, coming back from 22-7 down to win 40-39 with six stunning tries.
“We had a rocky start at the beginning, a bit like the previous week (against Hartpury),” said Collier. “But I think we just like giving the fans a bit of a scare before turning it on.
“It was just a fabulous day of rugby. The weather was good, there was a good crowd and it was a great last game of the season.
“It was a very good performance.”
Collier was outstanding at Richmond and was unlucky not to score two tries.
“I’m getting there slowly,” laughed Collier, who was the only player in Albion’s 2015/16 squad over the age of 28. “Hopefully, next year I will be bigger, stronger and fitter than this.”
However, it remains to be seen whether the experienced Londoner will be back at Albion next season.
The giant lock has attracted interest from other clubs after an impressive campaign, which saw him feature in 25 or Albion’s 30 league matches.
None of the Albion players have yet been offered contracts for next season by the new owners of the club.
The owners’ interim licence to run the National One club ends on Friday when they will be hoping to be granted a permanent licence by the RFU.
Former Wigan Warriors player Martin Hall has been linked with a coaching role at Albion.
Hall, who was head coach of Halifax RLFC and briefly assistant coach at Brixham, is believed to have been recommended to Albion, along with Tony Yapp.
Yapp, however, is thought to have told Albion he wants to stay at National Two South side Taunton.
Plymouth, though, appear in no rush to appoint a coach, with Exeter Chiefs planning their pre-season programme.
Dawe and his backroom team had already pencilled in warm-up games against Jersey (away), Cornish Pirates (home and away) and Exmouth (home), but Albion have not confirmed yet whether they will continue with those pre-season matches.