NOW firmly in the new year, Bridport Rugby Club can look back on the ups and downs and conclude that the club has made gradual steps forward come the conclusion of 2016, writes Andrew Livingston.

As the club stepped into last year, they mirrored a position not far from where they look today. After winning seven out of a total 11 games, the first team were in the hunt for a possible promotion spot.

Unfortunately the club’s second team were in less of a favourable position. Throughout the start of the season the club had worked hard to field a reserve 15 for junior players to use as a gateway to the firsts, however, the determination from a minor few became too much and the Blues quickly became a single entity in the new year.

Then came the post-Christmas Blues as January and the following months took their toll on results. Slowly they lost ground on their rivals in the Dorset & Wilts Two South table, despite competing well against them, as they dropped points facing teams scrapping at the bottom of the league.

However, the season resulted with a top-half finish in the league, and the new start brought a new optimistic beginning. Captain Tom Gamwell continued to steer the ship for another year and the club parted ways with their previous coach and invited Wes Lewis to take up the role.

Optimism opted to count for nothing as they lost two of their first three games, which was followed by a serious elbow injury to the leader of the backs, Ricky Stubbs, in October.

However, the Lewis and Gamwell combination began to work its magic for the last game in October; with only 15 players to face up against Ellingham & Ringwood, the team still made the 100-mile round trip and managed to come home with two losing bonus points.

Now, two months later, the Blues have won five matches on the bounce and the squad are in the hunt to be promoted to face sterner opposition next season. Most notably of the previous victories, the dominating performance at Brewery Field against their rivals in Dorchester Seconds.

With Stubbs’ large personality missing on the field, many of the team have stepped up to fill his boots. Honourable mentions must go to Bridport debutant Mitch Waters, Nathan Herbert and the returning Harry Richardson in being influential for the team on numerous occasions this season.

Looking forward their can only be one goal for the year… promotion. As Bridport have now entered it’s penultimate year before it’s 50th anniversary, the fans need something to cheer about before the celebrations begin.