Russell Bolton has hailed Maidenhead RFC as a ‘special place to be’ after taking charge of his final home game as head coach.
The final whistle on Saturday signalled a last-gasp 20-19 win for rivals Bracknell and also brought the curtain down on Bolton’s last game prowling the touchline at Braywick Park.
The disappointing result also ended Maids’ chances of leapfrogging back above second-placed Barnstaple to take the South West Premier Division’s play-off spot.
After taking a few minutes to collect his thoughts following the final whistle, and the team’s now customary on-pitch huddle debrief, Bolton held back tears as he told the Advertiser he would ‘greatly miss’ leading Maids into battle.
For a coach who has been at the helm for the last four seasons, this defeat, which Bracknell secured with a converted try from the very last play of the game, clearly meant an awful lot to him.
A clipboard in one hand and a tackle bag in the other, he walked across the field back into the changing rooms before saying: “It wasn’t the picturesque, finishing in a blaze of glory sort of thing that I had in my mind this morning. Unfortunately that loss to them will hurt more than losing to anyone else.
“So I’ve got to live with that, for the rest of the summer at least, and that will grate on me.”
Bolton led Maids to the South West 1 East League title in 2016/17 and he’ll step down with a heavy heart after next weekend’s closing fixture away to Brixham.
Work commitments at the school where he teaches and coaches means he’ll no longer have the time to lead the club on Saturdays.
He will be replaced in the summer by experienced coach David Mobbs-Smith.
“In terms of being here, it’s a pretty special place to be – I will miss it greatly,” added Bolton.
“The supporters, the fans, the players, the coaches and the management. It’s not somewhere that I really want to leave – hopefully I’ll come back one day.”
It was an emotional day for Maids, following the passing of club legend Rene Dance, and even a composed Bolton showed just how much the club meant to him, praising the ‘family’ that is Maidenhead Rugby Club.
“This club is filled with great players and a few who have achieved legendary status,” added Bolton. “I always think this club is amazing when it pull together in those situations. The family that comes together, it’s incredible.
“Everyone will have a beer
together upstairs and celebrate the wonderful person that Rene was.
“I think this is what is magical about the club – the way which
it celebrates its people is outstanding and it’s been a pleasure
to be a part of.”
Bolton’s final game comes against Brixham on Saturday and the coach is already thinking about bouncing back from Saturday’s result.
“I’m going to need a few hours to let what has happened digest – but we have to get back to work,” added Bolton
“I’d love to maintain that third spot – Brixham away is going to be a gruesome fixture – they play some good rugby, it’s a long journey and we need to finish with a win.
“We got a bounce back – one more game, one more week of effort.
“They need to put that effort in like they have for the rest of the season. They’ve been outstanding all season and it would be a shame to go out on a whimper.”