As we approach 2012, the second team can take heart following an impressive first half of the season. In fifteen league and cup matches Mike Lough’s men scored 707 points at an average of 47 per match. Equally impressive was their miserly defence which saw them concede a mere 97 points, including a run which saw them go over six hours without conceding a single point. After opening their campaign with a tremendous victory at champions Macclesfield, Hoppers remained unbeated until mid-November when rivals Sedgley Park secured a fortunate victory at Lightfoot Green. As a result Hoppers finished second when the league split on December 3rd before winning their first match of Conference A in a fiercely contested battle against Caldy. In addition to the men from the Wirral the second team will face Sedgley Park, Stockport, Macclesfield, Chester and neighbours Fylde both home and away.
The first fixture of the new year sees Fylde travel down the M55 to Lightfoot Green on January 7th. After being humbled 55-5 back in October the men from the Woodlands will be anxious to redeem themselves. The following weekend sees Sedgley Park return to Preston thus giving Hoppers an early chance to settle a few old scores. The visitors will be anxious to get their title campaign back on track after suffering a surprising reverse against Caldy on December 17th. So Hoppers will resume with two big fixtures whilst their third game of 2012 sees them travel down to Broughton Park in the next round of the Raging Bull Cup. Lough’s men progressed with a comfortable 65-5 win at Altrincham Kersal in late November.
When asked to reflect upon the season so far Lough was keen to highlight the great team spirit and exceptional commitment which existed within the second team. It was also extremely encouraging to see so many young players earn first team selection as the season wore on. Chris Gale, Alex Austin, Kilian Wallace, Connor Murphy, Mark Edwards, Jack Ward and Matt Gargett all finished the year with the senior side having made valuable contributions to the second team. Additionally the likes of Phil Mills, Oga Mabaya, Tom Smith, Andy Napier and Josh Purnell have all tasted first team action. Lough went on to comment that these factors have meant coaching the team has been relatively easy whilst he has enjoyed seeing how much the players enjoy playing positive and attacking rugby.
Whilst finding it difficult to highlight a stand out moment Lough did offer an amusing anecdote. During one match lock Jack Banks was seen writhing on the floor reporting a serious injury. As a result the team phsyio asked him to grade the pain so that a proper assessment could be made. Jack’s expert self-diagnosis confirmed that the injury was “9 on the pain scale, with 10 being death”. As it turns out a number of team mates spotted Banks dancing later that evening and seemingly oblivious to the trauma of that afternoon.
Here’s to a winning 2012 for all the Hoppers sides.