GATESHEAD Thunder fans have two choices – support their team or lose it forever.
That is the bullish view of CEO Steven Garside, who is fighting to keep the club alive off the pitch and is desperate for the fans to show similar levels of loyalty.
Garside is content with his first year at the helm, having righted more than a few wrongs in administration terms, but now he wants the club to kick on, especially in terms of results.
He reckons the club cannot climb to the reaches of National One and beyond without more consistent support from a fair-weather fan base.
Garside said: “It is up to the fans, if they do not want a rugby league club in Gateshead then there will not be one, because it cannot continue to be two or three people who balance the books by writing off bad debts.
“We do that for the love of the club, but for that love we desperately want to see it spring off the ground again and effectively run itself on some level.
“When we took over this was run like an amateur club, and now we have the basic practices in place to ensure we are moving in the right direction.
“We will keep striving for that, as hard as we possibly can, but the rest is down to the fans.
“We rescued this club from the brink of extinction, now the fans need to help us build up the next level of the base.
“The three year plan is still in place, and we are fully-focused about making Thunder a real force.”
Sticking to his original three-year plan to turn the tables on a club battling for fans in a crowded sporting environment, Garside said Thunder are building a project for the whole community.
He said: “The access the fans get to the coaches and the players, they could not want for more and this is building into a real community club.
“They have to realise that and maintain their end of the bargain, which is consistent and unequivocal support.
“Dave Woods has done well in the time he has had when effectively his hands were tied by the timing of his appointment.
“He is desperately disappointed we will not make the play-offs this time around.
“However, we are already building for next year and will start with a firmer grounding.”