Otley vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 2.15pm
The starting line up for Saturday’s game at Otley shows just one change from last week with Dan Madden replacing Richard Morton. Alan Holmes returns on the bench along with Chris Gale and Alex Austin.
1. Andy Irving, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Dan Madden, 4. Ali Murray, 5. Gareth Gore, 6. Conor Murphy,7. Will Keenan,8. Dominic Moon, Captain.9. Sam Kindred. 10. Karl Fitzpatrick, 11. Adam Birchall, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Alan Holmes, 18. Alex Austin, 19. Eddie Webster, 20. Josh Purnell.
Hoppers head for Yorkshire next Saturday for the second time this season hoping to build on their nine match unbeaten run. Otley are the host opponents and will no doubt still be smarting from the double defeat Hoppers handed out to them last season, but more importantly the drubbing they received at Lightfoot Green back in April. They must have returned to Yorkshire that evening feeling relegation was a certainty with just two games remaining. Every credit to them as they escaped the drop by the narrowest of margins in the final seconds of the last Saturday of the season away from home at Ionians, thus condemning fellow Yorkshire club Harrogate to the drop.
After relegation at the end of the 20010/11 season, Otley struggled their way through their first season back in National 2 going a particularly long period without a win but started this season like a train winning their first four games. Since then they’ve been a bit hit and miss but claimed the scalp of Sheffield Tigers in their last home game and currently sit three places and thirteen points behind Hoppers.
Before the drop from National 1, they had lived in the upper levels of league rugby since gaining promotion at the end of the 1990/91 season from Courage Division 4 North, Hoppers inflicting a rare defeat at Lightfoot Green in the only meeting between the two sides that season.
Hoppers and Otley next met in league action during our first season at Level 3 rugby in 1999/2000. This was to be for just one year as Otley gained promotion once again and was the last time the two clubs met until last season’s games.
Otley’s famous last minute escape at Hull Ionians back in April broke an unusual pattern between the two clubs. Until then there had been a definite trend to Hoppers versus Otley league meetings, they only lasted for one season before each club went its separate way.
The playing record between this week’s opponents goes way back to April 1929 when Otley played Hoppers whilst they were on an Easter tour in Lancashire. The home team ran out winners that day but suffered a comprehensive defeat the following season at Otley’s Cross Green ground against what was thought to be one of the strongest sides in Yorkshire.
There was then a considerable gap in time before the two clubs met again, but once that happened in 1961, games were played each season into the “Leagues” period.
The records show our opponents marginally have the upper hand in results over the years, winning 19 to Hoppers 18 with one draw and five cancellations, so Saturday’s the ideal opportunity for Hoppers to even things up.
Games being played at Lightfoot Green this Saturday include the Third XV versus Blackburn Seconds and our Fourths entertaining Oldham Thirds, whilst our Women’s side entertain Vagabonds from the Isle of Man in a game which kicks off at 12 noon finishing in time for a viewing of the England vs. South Africa International from Twickenham in the Clubhouse.
Sunday sees both our Senior and Junior Colts teams playing Lancashire County Colts Cup matches at Lightfoot Green. The Seniors host Eccles and the Juniors Littleborough.
Please see noticeboards for kick off times.
Photo by kind permission of Mike Craig.