London Skolars bid star player and Community Coach Neil Thorman a fond farewell

2nd November 2012

It seems like only yesterday that London Skolars doubled their Geordie quota when Neil Thorman joined the club, not only as a first team player, but also as part of brother Paul’s thriving community team. It was in fact April 2010 and now, two and a half successful years later, Neil is returning to his native North East.

Neil joined the team having been playing in France for SO Avignon Bisons. Before that Neil had made 125 appearances for Gateshead Thunder, scoring 269 points. He had also made a couple of appearances for York City Knights.

In 2010 Neil made 10 appearances for Skolars, scoring 12 points and his performances were rewarded at the end of the season when incoming first team coach Joe Mbu appointed Neil captain for the 2011 season. Alas Neil’s season was cruely cut short by injury when he sustained a torn bicep. Surgery and a long period of rehabilitation followed and frustratingly, for Neil and the team, he was only able to play 12 times for the club that season, scoring 56 points.

After an intense pre-season Neil returned to action fully fit for the 2012 season and he made an impressive 21 starts, scoring 24 points, including the opening try against Whitehaven in Skolars televised Friday Night Lights game against Whitehaven.

Neil’s partner Laura worked as Skolars physio during last season and, although they both loved and fully embraced life in the Capital, they had some difficult decisions to make regarding careers and location once the season was over.

Neil not only bids his playing career at the club farewell but it also signals the end of his work as a community Rugby League coach at the club. This is a position that Neil undertook with relish and his final season as coach of Skolars 18’s bears testimony to the hard work he put in and the discipline he installed in his squad. Against many predictions the 18’s not only made the play-offs but they made their Grand Final where they secured a memorable golden point victory over favourites South London Storm. This was an historic victory for the club and many of Neil’s squad will now look to progress to train with and ultimately play for the 1st team.

Neil’s hard work with the juniors will be sorely missed we’re sure he’ll be keeping an eye on their progress from afar.

Commenting on his brother’s departure from the club Skolars Community Manager Paul Thorman had this to say: “Neil came to the club when, off the field, it had undergone a transition somewhat and needed someone experienced and willing to graft to bring the tiers outside the first team up to the standard it is today. He went above and beyond that, as well as ensuring the schools and colleges he has played his part in being almost unrecognisable from when Neil began at the Skolars. The way Neil’s under 18s side culminated the season, winning their grand final in such fashion, is the very least he deserves in recognition of his time here. Them being nominated in his final week as London RL team of the year is the icing on the cake.

More than awards, I think Neil has made a huge impact personally on the individuals he has associated with through his work and has provided a very professional role model for them. Obviously, Neil is my brother and I thought he would provide me with a challenge to manage him when he was recruited by the club. It’s been nothing of the sort, if anything, he’s made it very easy as he has very high standards and has been a massive help. On the pitch his actions have spoken for themselves and him being picked up by a Championship club is testament to his ability and attitude.

I’m sure he’ll keep in touch, more out of duty as a brother than anything else!”

At 28 years of age Neil has accepted a new challenge, to play at a higher level, in the Championship with Whitehaven and everyone will be wishing Neil every success at his new club.

It’s been great having you here Neil and you will be sorely missed by the team and the office as well as the hundreds of kids you have coached to play Rugby League during your time here. Your enthusiasm and passion for the game is limitless. Good luck for the future.

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