Ferguson targets "another good year" with Somerset Vikings

Somerset Viking's John Ferguson

John Ferguson in action for Somerset Vikings. - Credit: Sarah Caddick

Somerset Vikings leading appearance maker has targeted “another good year” but says anything less than the 2019 season will be a “huge blow”, after they won the West of England Rugby League title by beating Reading Raiders 26-18 in the final.

John Ferguson, who has played in 93 matches, has been with the club ever since it was founded in 2003 and after last year’s campaign was affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Vikings returned to training on Wednesday March 31 at The Nest, home of Hornets RFC.

All smiles for Somerset Vikings

All smiles for Somerset Vikings as they pose for the camera. - Credit: Duane West

“It’s an amazing club to be a part of,” Ferguson said.

“Over the years I’ve had the privilege of not only playing a very under-funded and underrated game but also I have met some brilliant passionate people along the way. It’s been fantastic.

“We hope the win over Reading in the last grand final of the West of England will lead to new player recruitment.

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“We have been lucky enough to retain our main sponsor of Paul Waite from Aspen Waite for the fourth season in a row now and we are trying to develop the club to become a more professional outfit and promote rugby league in the South of England.

“Anything below 2019 would be a huge blow, there are some exceptional young players who will continue to take the club forward. Also with the Brookers at the helm pointing them in the right direction it should be another good year.”

Somerset Vikings' John Ferguson

John Ferguson has been with Somerset Vikings since day one, when the club was founded in 2003. - Credit: Sarah Caddick

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Chris Richards and Darren Horne helped form the club together, while Richards used his connections in the Royal Marines to help with player recruitment.

There were a number of players based in the 40 Commando camp at Norton Fitzwarren and Ferguson says the club have a come long way since then.

“The first game we played we were wearing borrowed shirts with many of the local players having never really watched a game of Rugby League, let alone played it,” he recalled.

“Today the game awareness and standards are much more evolved with players taking a keen interest in the game as a whole.”

But they trained for the first time in over a year on Wednesday, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement that grassroots team sports were allowed to return from March 29.

Johnson has agreed clubs can hold contact training sessions, excluding scrums and mauls, and host Ready4Rugby, O2 Touch and Tag rugby matches between clubs.

And Ferguson admitted he was “extremely keen” to get going again after 12 testing months and will use “momentum” from the league win two years ago as a “stepping stone” to go out and enjoy the 2021 season with Covid guidance in place.

John Ferguson has made the most appearances for Somerset Vikings with 93

John Ferguson leads the way in most appearances for Somerset Vikings with 93 games since playing his first match in 2003. - Credit: Sarah Caddick

“It was great to hear of the return at grassroots level. Sport is important in so many ways, none more so than from a health and well-being point of view,” he added.

“I know the club have had meetings with the Rugby Football League (RFL) about Covid regulations, and I know the Vikings will be sticking to those rules set out by the RFL and the government under the strict guidance from head coach Dan Brooker and the club Covid officer, Bob Blainey, with help from the committee.

“But as it's rugby, it's a team effort so we will all be responsible for making sure the rules are adhered to.”

Somerset Vikings' John Ferguson

John Ferguson has been playing for Somerset Vikings for the last 18 years. - Credit: Claire Loader

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