MEET THE BOARD – CHAIRMAN, DIRECTOR & PART OWNER ANDREW THORNE
First up on our new segment of “MEET THE BOARD” is club chairman & part owner Andrew Thorne.
Andrew originally created the club back in 2015 when they changed their name from Gwendraeth Valley Raiders to West Wales Raiders. Since then the club has progressed and become the brand that is the West Wales Raiders. Andrew has had a wealth of experience in running numerous successful businesses before and during the running of the Raiders.
We caught up with Andrew on his past life, times with the Raiders and what in his eyes makes a club a successful one.
“Hello all, for those who don’t know me I am the chairman of the West Wales Raiders and also one of the club’s owners. In my past life I was in the army, where I was lucky enough to travel the world and also get to chance to play various sports, however rugby as always been my passion. Coming from Wales I was broughT up on Rugby Union and had it drilled into me that the only people who play rugby league are people who can’t play rugby union. As I hadn’t experienced league that was the opinion I had until I was around 28. A friend of mine who played rugby union with me throughout my army carer was from Wigan and once told me that once you play league you will go back to union for a break and he certainly wasn’t wrong. We went on his stag do not long after the club had been accepted into league 1 where he happily gloated in seeing me take over a league club and not a union club and he still reminds me to this day of what he said.
I had exposure to league when I was posted to Catterick and never looked back I am big fan of both codes and enjoy what they both bring. After returning to Wales I returned to union as league wasn’t really a thing in West Wales. One day Mark Jones and Jon Ellis who both worked for Wales Rugby league came to the union club I was playing for called Mynydd y Garreg, how they found us I will never know as union teams who had played there before still couldn’t find the club, but after some persuasion to the committee of the club the Gwendraeth Valley raiders were formed. Although the club is growing I will never forget where it started and will always be thankfull to the players, committee and volunteers of Mynydd Y Garreg that helped get this club off the ground and I’m so happy to see, we have still got some great people involved who want to see the sport grow just as much as the club.
I have always been asked about measuring the success of the club, each person will have their own take on that. Most want on field wins, some want top players at the top of the game and other will want to see promotion, most would even think that the win over Coventry Bears last season was a success and quite rightly it was, however for me that was a success for the players and supporters who stuck in and did the hard work during the defeats and growth of the club. For me though I will class the Raiders as a success when they are stable and established and self-supportive. If I or any member of staff or players walk away from the club and it still operates, that for me is what I call a success. As long as I still see staff, supporters and players smiling I know what we are doing is a worthy cause.
Since running a club I am passionate about the players and have tried to put in place all the things I didn’t like or found hard when I was playing, a number of people have helped with this journey and I’m sure you will hear about them over the next couple of days.
I look forward to seeing you at Stebonheath when the opportunity arrives. Please come and have a chat, we are one big family there and we are all part of one big club.
Thank you all for helping me on this fantastic journey and I look forward to working with and for you all in the future.