Published: 05:00, 14 January 2022
| Updated: 07:43, 14 January 2022
There is no place quite like home - just ask Dover.
The Sharks returned to action at Crabble Athletic Ground for the first time in around 18 months on Saturday after a water-pipe burst had left their facilities out of use.
It was a winning return, too, despite terrible conditions, as they beat Vigo 27-12 in London 3 South East.
“It’s been a tough season so far because we have been away,” revealed Martyn Beaumont, the club’s head of rugby.
“But first home game back, we were excellent. It was probably our best performance of the year in the worst conditions of the year.
"It was a bit of a mud bath - and there was horizontal rain at times!”
Beaumont said one player had suggested it had been 646 days since their last competitive home fixture.
He reflected: “It’s been months and months, to be honest.
"But everyone at the club has been fantastic, we have had a really strong group of volunteers, as well as the insurers who have been involved.
“We have been working since probably February last year to get it to the point where it is now.
“It’s still not quite complete but we are looking to finish the refurb in the next month or so.”
Among the facilities given a facelift is the function hall, while they now also boast a physio room and a meeting room.
“By all accounts, yes,” replied Beaumount when asked if it had been an expensive renovation.
“It was a lot (of damage), so it was an insurance job. But we have spent the best part of £50,000 ourselves.
“We just want to get everyone back in.
"We have got some youngsters that we are looking to bring through. We are just waiting for final permission to play the 17-year-olds.
“But we are hoping, in the next week or so, we will have a real influx of young talent (in the first-team).”
With Dover sixth, but with plenty of home fixtures still to play this term, Beaumont added: “We are always looking to finish as high as we possibly can.
“Top-three was always the aim from the start of the season, and we are in a good position.”
The club have juniors from under-6s to under-16s, while their 2nds returned to action at the weekend against Deal & Betteshanger - but that was abandoned due to the weather.
Beaumont enthused: “It’s the strongest position we have been in as a club for about 10 years.
"It’s really, really good.”
Dover will host Crawley this Saturday.