Bury leaving nothing to chance in promotion quest
AS I sit across from Gavin Hogg it soon becomes apparent that the 31-year-old is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to emulate Diss and Sudbury, and catapult Bury St. Edmunds into National League rugby.
“I have just finished watching a DVD of Saturday’s game (A 63-3 victory over Ruislip) and there are certain aspects of our game that I want the players to work on, which I will point out tonight (at training),” said Hogg, prior to his team’s latest victory, a 25-19 win at Old Haberdashers at the weekend.
Hogg’s meticulous approach to the game and his team’s next opponents is a reflection of the club’s overall philosophy which stresses the importance on building from the bottom upwards and establishing a youth set-up which will benefit the smallest seven-year-old to the biggest Colt, itching for a piece of senior action. The Irish-born former teacher is ambitious and wants to be the figure that leads Bury into the ‘unknown’ and into the mix with the big boys.
In terms of their status, Bury have never reached the ‘unknown’ that is the National League, but Hogg is confident that should promotion be achieved, they should be able to hit the ground running.
“Our ambition is to reach the National League but if you don’t have a strong foundation, and if you don’t build, then it is very hard to sustain season after season,” said Hogg.
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“There are plenty of bad examples where teams have achieved a series of promotions but have only really invested in their first 15, leaving nothing underneath.
“We have a switched-on committee at the club and we want every section to be strong.
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“We have a full-time strength and conditioning coach and we are a very fit and strong team that works hard from minute one to minute 80.
“If we are leading after an hour in a game I would back us to shine in the last 20 minutes, because of the preparation we do.
“The higher you go, the more the season takes its toll in terms of injuries and it is always in the back of my mind that we have to develop players. If we do win promotion this season, we don’t want to get there and be shocked by what we find.”
Hogg’s position as a full-time coach at an amateur club, one would assume is fairly rare, but his remit involves far more than his current crop of first-teamers and his background as a former teacher at Copleston High School helps.
“We have invested locally in the Colts’ under-17 team and last season was the first in which they fell under the umbrella of the senior side,” he said.
“We also have senior players acting as mentors to the juniors. Coaching development is also very important to us and we ensure our coaches receive the right qualifications and look at ways they can pass on our ideas to the players, young and old.”
The planning and attention to detail is currently bearing fruit with the team being able to boast a 100 per cent record in London 1 North this season – a campaign that has already yielded 99-0 and 83-0 victories against Rochford Hundred and Romford & Gidea Park.
But Hogg knows there will be tougher tests ahead and hesitates to endorse the suggestion they could go through the whole season unbeaten.
“It’s a cliche but we are just taking one game at a time,” said Hogg.
“You put yourself top of the table and you leave yourself on a pedestal to be shot at, but the players enjoy that.
“We have carried on where we left off last season, where we had a good run from January onwards and we have entered this campaign with a similar focus to try and win promotion.
“Bury have had a tradition of making slow starts over the last two or three seasons and we were determined to put ourselves in and around the leading pack, early on, this time around.”