LIMBO for Dave Woods is pulling pints and managing bar staff. The ex-Thunder coach has been out of full-time rugby league since December 2008 – and he has had enough.
Enough of the whispers, the rumours and the stains on his character.
More than a year after his stunning Gateshead sacking, the straight-talking Aussie can finally prepare himself for progress.
Woods has been bidding to clear his name ever since Steve and Sarah Garside ended his successful stint at Thunder in cursory fashion.
Biding his time for his day in court on a constructive dismissal case he felt he would win, Woods needed work and secured himself a managerial role covering three North East pubs.
However, when the Garsides withdrew their Thunder backing, forcing the club into administration, Woods’ case went up in smoke. With no holding company to sue, there seemed no hope for him clearing his name. Now though, the RFL have stepped in and have told Woods they will review his case.
This might very well be water under the bridge for the Garsides – who have cut all ties and most contacts at Thunder – but for Woods the implications live on.
Hopeful of a clean slate, Woods told The Journal all he wants is a fresh start.
Much as he enjoys running The City Hotel in Durham, The Station Hotel in Whitley Bay and the Dun Cow in Sunderland, Woods is an experienced coach and is itching to get back to the sharp end.
He has done consultancy work at St Helens and is now the Great Britain under-18s coach, but Woods believes the fallout from his Thunder sacking has impugned his reputation.
He said: “All I want is to be able to clear my name so I can get my career and my life back together.
“It has been really tough, on the family as well as myself, and as much financially as anything else. I made a mistake and I admit that, but I never did anything intentionally, illegally or to damage the club either.
“I had the club’s best interests at heart.
“I made an error on a contract relating to a player’s wages, and I put my hand in my own pocket to make up a shortfall created by my error and that the club should not have been covering.
“I was willing to do that, take a cut from my own pocket to cover extra money a player was only owed because I had made an error, but that was what caused the problem and that was what led to my sacking. I acted naively because I just assumed there would be latitude with something like that, given I should never have been handling player contracts and things like that anyway.
“I was only ever employed as a coach, but I handled that administration because that is what you do, you muck in and do what has to be done.
“They always knew I was never qualified to handle things like that, and I thought they would understand. That was why I pushed for the club to bring in Rod Findlay (pictured left) in the first place, because I had met him a few times and was impressed by him and knew he could handle that side of things.
“That was designed to take the pressure off the coaching staff and allow us to do our job we were hired for in the first place.
“I even offered to take a pay cut of a third of my annual wage to facilitate Rod’s employment, and the club had pretty much accepted that.
“So I went from being about to sign a three-year deal to being out of job in one foul swoop. I was never given proper chance to explain and my dismissal was cursory.
“I went to that board meeting expecting to be talking about the new contract, and ended up being sacked on the spot.”
Woods was preparing to assault National One as it was then known when he was sacked, building on from the glory of winning National Two the previous campaign.
Revealing only loyalty kept him at Gateshead when he had a financially-superior offer from Featherstone, Woods said he could have been coaching Barrow now – but for the continued questions around quite why he was relieved of the Thunder job.
He added: “I turned down a fantastic offer to go and coach Featherstone Rovers to finish what I had started at Thunder.
“I did the honourable thing and stuck by my decision to come to the North East in the first place, and I expected that would be reciprocated.
“I was in the running for the job at Barrow and had spoken with their chairman a number of times, and we were discussing the exact issue of why I had been sacked at Gateshead.
“Credit to everyone at Barrow, they were very open and honest with me and I respect that – they told me they were worried about why I had been sacked and I offered to meet the board and explain the situation in detail.
“They were interested in that and I think they would have given me that chance, but then Gateshead went under and Steve McCormack became available.
“Clearly that was a much safer move for them, and I can not blame them for going after Steve in the circumstances.
“I know my name has been muddied by what has happened and I hope the RFL’s investigation will at least clear me of any wrongdoing.
“That is all I want. I don’t want recompense and it was never about that.
“ I don’t want to get anyone into trouble or cause bother either – but I do want the chance to continue my career which has stalled because of this.
“I am 45 now, have a lot of experience and a lot to offer, and also a long time to be in the game too.
“Until someone officially can turn around and say ‘Dave Woods did not do anything wrong’ then I am going to struggle.
“I hold no grudges and there is no ill-feeling to be honest.
“I would go back and coach at Gateshead tomorrow if they asked, but I need a resolution to this so I can move on.”