Dave Wray: Myton Warriors are a hard working family club!
Family. You don’t have to be around the rugby league community for long to realise family underpins the core values which makes this game so great! Myton were one of the first ever teams I featured on GRM SPORT back in 2017, and family has always been in the very fabric which keeps the North Hull club going despite adversity.
You can watch Myton in action on the GRM SPORT YouTube Channel by following the link at the end of this article.
A lot has changed in the last 12 months for Myton, including relegation from NCL Premiere division, the loss of marquee players, a change in coaching personnel and financial battles. Despite these challenges the club have stuck together, spear headed by new head Coach Dave Wray who hopes to one day return the club to the highest echelons of amateur rugby.
I’ve known Dave since I set up GRM 3 years ago, he’s a club man through and through, and can often be seen on the sidelines watching the junior teams or running sessions with younger groups at training. I was keen to meet up and discuss Dave’s involvement in the rugby community and life as Myton Warrior’s new head coach.
Here’s what Dave had to say to GRM SPORT.
Where do your rugby league roots lie?
“I’m an East Hull lad, and Hull KR supporter! I started playing rugby at 12 years old, there wasn’t a set up for younger age groups as there is now. However, back then you had roughly 28 teams per age groups, 2 leagues of 14 teams. Most teams were formed from school youth clubs, but a lot has changed over the last 35 years.
“I was a full-back and played at Hull Dockers from age 12 right up to 19. I later became a Youth Coach at Holderness Vikings and took a group of lads right through to Under 18’s. We were a very successful team winning the Yorkshire Premiere Division.
You recently became Head Coach at Myton Warriors following Tony Spence’s departure from the club, how long were you Tony’s assistant coach?
“ I coached with Tony for 4 years, we have some good memories, gaining promotion back to the NCL Premiere Division and reaching the National Cup Final. Tony is a very experienced coach, he’s been in the game for well over 20 years! I think Tony decided to leave the club due to changing attitudes and perhaps for a new challenge, I wish him all the best in his new role at Beverley.
How have things changed since you took the reins as Head Coach?
“ It’s been tough, there was a period where we struggled with a lack of players and quality on the pitch. We lost some experience where it really mattered. There were some close calls too, last season we went away to Cumbria with 14 men but only lost 20-13 to a strong Kells side, which isn’t a terrible result, with a few more regulars we may have won. We also lost 50-48 to Thatto Heath, Richard Owen their head coach said after the game they worked hard on their defence for 3 weeks straight prior to that match!
What have you been keen to put in place since taking over as head coach?
“ I’m a strong believer in getting the one percenters right, get your defence sorted and worst thing that could happen is a draw! I also like to work on core skills, I start every training session with a game as I see huge importance in developing core skills at every age and every level.
Nathan Slater played a key role at the club for a number of years, but recently joined rival club Skirlaugh. What is your reaction to Nathan leaving and have you lost other key players?
“ I’ve got nothing against Nathan, and I still speak to him, it was an out of the blue transfer but I think it was mostly due to the lack of players coming to training at the time here at Myton. We wished he stuck through the dark days, but he took an opportunity over at Skirlaugh. Prior to Nathan leaving we also lost Nathan Hill to West Hull, another rival club.
“In terms of other personnel losses, last season we lost 5 players to long term injuries following the 82-6 Challenge Cup defeat to Doncaster. We’ve been in the NCL for 8 or 9 years now, we’re an established club and I know we’ll bounce back from the tough times.
How are things looking ahead of the 2019 campaign?
“ We’ve managed to get some strength back in the squad and things are looking very positive, we have some young talent coming through in Ben Bradshaw who recently toured Serbia and Dan Precious who represented Yorkshire, Ellis Wray is also stepping into a key role this season. I think as a squad we are lucky to have retained so many experienced players who have played at the highest level, the likes of Chris Walker, Lee Fewlass, Aaron Pearce, James Jennison, Lee James and Ash James.
“Ash for me is the most gifted player I have ever coached, and above all he just loves rugby you can see that at training and when he’s playing. We’ve also had a few young lads picked up for scholarships at under 15s which looks great for the club as a whole going forward.
In today’s game where rugby league is transitioning on a regular basis, what would you change about the NCL if given the chance?
“ If I had to make a change, I would make this level more regional so it is more cost effective. The club spent almost £12,000 on coach travel last year and have done over the past few seasons. Yorkshire as a region is very strong, with your big Hull teams and clubs in West Yorkshire such as Siddal and Hunslet Club Parkside, so I think the Yorkshire region has a strong competition. Outside of Yorkshire you also have brilliant clubs such as Thatto Heath, and Wigan St Pats. Cumbria is another rugby league hotbed. I would play a regional competition for your regular season games and set up a 4 v 4 play-off consisting of the top 4 teams from various regions.
Finally, what is your goal for the season?
“ We have players meeting coming up, so I am yet to announce our season plans to the lads, but our overall goal this season is to make the play-off. I won't say promotion at this stage, because it is a really tough league. Myton are a hard working family club with many families working together as well as volunteers. I’m looking forward to another season side by side with the people who push to keep this club going!