ARMOY Rugby Club are gearing up for the new season and in one of the most amazing stories in local sport, one club stalwart hopes to run out onto the pitch at some stage just like he has done for the last 40 years, writes Nevin Farrell.
Step forward Club President (and scrum half) Tom Christie, who at the age of 57, is as enthusiastic for the game as he was as a fresh-faced 17-year-old.
Tom was one of the founding members of the club four decades ago and in fact played in the first match.
He said: “I love rugby and it has been a privilege and an honour to be associated with Armoy for such a long time and as we are in and around the 40 year mark of the club we are not standing still as we have big plans with a £1 million scheme to get get a new clubhouse at Lime Park which we hope to be operational within three years.”
And there is every likelihood that when a match is played to mark the official opening of the new premises that Christie, who played most of his career as an out-half, will probably be crossing the sideline in the colours of his home side.
This season is also set to be a big year for another member of the Christie family as Tom’s son Gareth is captain of the Firsts this year.
Armoy are operating in Qualifying League Four - a level they are still finding their feet in after they moved up from minor rugby.
Last season they finished in the lower echelons of Qualifying League Four but Tom Christie says the ambition is to finish in the top half of the league this year.
And Tom also has his eye on Armoy perhaps picking up some silverware in the cup.
For a number of years Armoy did not have a second team but they have been back in business in recent times and will be captained by Neil Porterfield this year.
Armoy 1st XV will again be in Qualifying League 4 and will again be up against Cavan, Civil Service, Londonderry Y.M, Ophir and Virginia, and also Belfast High School Former Pupils who were relegated last season from Qualifying 3.
Armoy will be relatively familiar with the league new boys as they met last season in the Gordon West Cup in a fixture that Armoy won.
Armoy 2nd XV have moved leagues from Minor East 1 to Minor North. They will be reacquainting themselves with a few old friends and adversaries from City of Derry 4, Donegal 2, Finn Valley, Inishowen, Letterkenny 2, Limavady 3 Londonderry Y.M 2, Strabane 2 and Tir Chonnail.
And as a sign of their intent this year, the Armoy club went back to training earlier than usual, in mid-June.
Armoy 2nd XV have the honour of being first to grace the Lime Park turf this season.
They face last season’s Minor League North Champions Strabane 2nd XV on Saturday September 7 (2.30pm) in the league and then take on Letterkenny 2nd XV at Lime Park the following Saturday.
The 1st XV begin their season with a cup tie against Belfast High School F.P at Lime Park on September 21.
The 1st XV start their league campaign the following Saturday, September 28, against Ophir 1st XV at Lime Park.