An awful lot has happened to NEC Harlequins since I last wrote my piece two days prior to the Sale Sharks game at the end of April, most of which has been well reported here on the club official website, on the 'Comeallwithin' supporters website and also in the press.<br /> <br />One thing that I think has staggered everyone involved with the club has been the support we have received from sponsors and supporters alike. NEC, eteach, Kooga, Eden Park, CSF and many others have all renewed their agreements with us, while over 1,500 people have renewed their Season Tickets, many at the original Premiership level prices. <br /> <br />To use the Tony Copsey strap line (Commitment - Loyalty - Belief), all our partners have shown this in abundance since we lost against Sale and it has had a huge impact upon all of us.<br /> <br />In terms of the playing squad, we should be in a position to announce the names of all the players that have been retained in the next few days. As was stated at the Press Conference on Monday (9th May), there will be one or two casualties because of the reduced budget that we will have to operate with in National Division One, but we will still have a strong squad led by the likes of Andre Vos, Will Greenwood and Tony Diprose.
There will obviously be some new signings and these will be announced over the coming weeks. They will include players that we had agreed contracts with prior to our relegation from the Zurich Premiership.
This is also a time to thank those players that have been released by NEC Harlequins, such as Roy Winters, Andy Dunne, Jon Dawson, Dafydd James and Andy Reay. They have all in their own way contributed hugely to the playing side at the club over the last five years and I would like to take this opportunity to wish them all every success at their new clubs for next season.
Also leaving from the playing department are Paul Turner, Paul Pook and Richard Bamford. Again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their efforts and wish them every success in their future roles.
You will all also be aware that Dean Richards has been appointed as our new Director of Rugby on a three year contract, and there is a good chance that we will be in a position to announce a new coach to work alongside him and John Kingston in the very near future.
Over the last few weeks, Dean has been racking up the air miles flying between Lyon and London. I am sure that he is looking forward to the challenge ahead and getting stuck into his new role. Dean has a very impressive track record and I know that all the players and back room staff are looking forward to working with him when we return to pre-season training on 20th June at our new site in Roehampton.
The last two weeks have been very painful but the future of this great club is hugely positive. To quote Mr Richards, 'the sleeping giant' is about to be woken.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.