FANS and sponsors were joined by directors, players and coaching staff as Castleford Tigers held a pre-season dinner at the Wheatsheaf Banqueting Suite, in Castleford.
Master of Ceremonies Mick Morgan led the proceedings and after an introduction from new general manager Richard Turner and commercial manager Nick Fozzard, guests were treated to a three-course meal.
Head coach Ian Millward took to the stage to give an insight into the squad’s preparations for the new season and reflected on their tough pre-season which is placing hard work at its core.
While other Super League clubs have been taking their pre-season training to glamorous overseas locations, the head coach talked about the players’ intense experience at a military training camp at an army base in East Yorkshire.
Millward admitted his squad did not have the depth of most Super League clubs, but said the new additions had added quality and experience already proving beneficial through the impact they are having in training.
Guests were then introduced to the squad and Millward stayed on stage to present each player with their shirt.
Commercial manager Fozzard said: “It offered a fantastic opportunity for the whole club to thank our sponsors and fans for their continued support.
“It was also a celebration of the season ahead. There were really good vibes from Ian and the players, who spoke throughout the evening. It has filled us all with positivity for the year ahead. Let the games begin.”
Castleford are still hoping to get closer to their their target of 5,000 members before next month’s start of the Super League season with funding seen as vital to help the club improve on and off the field.
The early bird membership deadline has now expired with the Tigers just over 1,500 short of their initial target.
Chief executive Steve Ferres has been pleased with the fans’ response so far, but believes more is needed.
He said: “I would like to personally thank each and every fan who has signed up as a member in 2013.
“Your support means so much to us, but the 5,000 target was set for a reason and we really do need your help in asking friends and family members to get behind us too.
“If we don’t reach the target we will struggle along. But we have an ailing stadium, which needs work doing on it. This work is absolutely necessary and will require substantial funds to execute, but it will only serve to keep us at the same point. We are also severely under resourced, meaning it is a continued struggle to effectively deliver events and activity that will drive more revenue to the club.
“There is no doubt our momentum has slowed and it is important we reach out beyond our loyal fans to the people of Castleford who care about maintaining a community club that is central to the town’s heritage.”
Additional repair work is now needed at the Wish Communications Stadium following a substantial cable theft over the festive break, which left the club’s floodlights, scoreboard and turnstiles unable to function and put the hospitality boxes out of action.
Ferres said: “Without doubt, it will be a big job and at the worst possible time with the new season fast approaching and our friendly against Featherstone at home only a couple of weeks away.
“We already had a long list of essential repairs that need to be made to the stadium in the coming weeks and this is certainly not going to help our progress.
“To have this setback after a really promising build-up is a real kick in the teeth for us, but I am determined not to let it detract from the great work we have already done, as well as the hard work that still needs to be done before the season starts.”