Four key players leave Vale

Neale Foster sprints for the line against Wigton.
Neale Foster sprints for the line against Wigton.

VALE of Lune will be intensifying their pre-season programme by taking part in a triangular tournament at Powderhouse Lane on Saturday against Bowdon and Scottish club Haddington; games are scheduled to kick-off at 2pm.

This will be the Vale’s first competitive outing since winning the Brian Leigh Lancashire Trophy in dramatic style against Broughton Park at the beginning of May.

However, a number of familiar faces will be missing from the line-up.

In addition to the retirement of one of their pivotal figures, Ian Bird, a quartet of other players will not be pulling on the cherry and white jersey this season – threequarters Neale Foster, Fergus Owens, Alistair Richards and forward James Hesketh.

Neale Foster has left the Vale to join Liverpool St Helens, who finished in third place in North One West last season, two places and 17 points above the Vale.

Foster made his debut for the Vale at home against Sandbach in December 2007, the season the Vale were relegated from North Two West. He made 66 appearances and amassed a total 532 points.

Fergus Owens, who has moved to National League One club Sedgley Park, made a massive, spectacular impact last season scoring 28 tries; this total included a six try haul against Kirkby Lonsdale.

He was not only the Vale’s leading try scorer but also topped the North One West list.

Owens made his debut in a home warm-up game against Penrith in August 2009, and went on to make 52 appearances scoring a total of 34 tries.

Throughout last season he grew in confidence and gave full rein to his considerable skills, his silky smooth well balanced running with the ball held in both hands, they were allied to a deceptive side step, very much in the mould of a classic centre when he was in full fight.

A sublime, commanding performance in the Lancashire Trophy final, played coincidentally at Sedgley Park, might well have convinced the shakers and movers at Park Lane that he would be a useful addition to their squad.

See the Lancaster Guardian (04-08-11) for full story.