Birmingham Solihull vs. Preston Grasshoppers– Kick Off 2.00pm
There are one or two changes to the Hoppers squad travelling to Birmingham this weekend from last week against Dudley Kingswinford.
Rotation in the front row sees both Phil Mills and Dan Madden get a start whilst the occupiers of those particular shirts last week, take a turn on the bench.
Man of the Match on his last outing Alex Austin returns to the second row and will no doubt recall an impressive performance last season at Portway.
The backs have a number of changes in that Karl Fitzpatrick starts in the number ten shirt with the usual incumbent moving to full back. In the centres, Sam Bedlow makes his First XV debut and Phil Baines retains his two try wing position he moved to after Matt Hughes’ injury last week.
The only other changes from last Saturday’s outing see the return of Andy Napier and Sam Wallbank on the bench.
1 James Mawdsley, 2 Phil Mills, 3 Danny Madden, 4 Ally Murray, 5 Andy Irving, 6 Will Lees, 7 Eddie Webster , 8 Dominic Moon (Captain), 9 Sam Kindred, 10 Karl Fitzpatrick. 11 Phil Baines, 12 Jack Ward, 13 Sam Bedlow, 14 Adam Birchall, 15 Lewis Allen.
16 Alan Holmes, 17 Mo Mustafa, 18, Sam Wallbank, 19 Andy Napier, 20 Craig Aikman.
After lowering Macclesfield’s unbeaten colours a couple of weeks ago at Priory Park our hosts this coming Saturday appeared to be the form team in the league, however they suffered a surprising reverse at Caldy last week and although not the easiest place to gain a victory perhaps the margin of defeat was something of a shock.
They may well have been suffering the effects of their victory the week before, similar to Hoppers experience after the hard earned win over Sedgley Park at the beginning of the season.
It’s interesting to see Birmingham Solihull have had a run of very similar results against teams Hoppers have played this season. A close defeat at Harrogate and narrow victories over Hull, Otley and Leicester Lions whilst losing at home to Darlington Mowden Park, away to Chester and Stourbridge before comprehensively beating both Dudley Kingswinford and Bromsgrove. Although we haven’t played Caldy or Macclesfield as yet and they have yet to encounter Sedgley Park and Sheffield Tigers, the only differences are that the Midlanders lost at Luctonians whilst we gained a first ever victory at Mortimer Park.
Hoppers will be pleased that they managed to run in five tries in a victory over the winless bottom club in the league last Saturday, but I’m sure Michael Lough won’t be too pleased with what turned out to be a very disjointed and lacklustre performance against a team who may well have run Hoppers a lot closer had they chosen to go for tries instead of kicking for goal from some of the penalties they were awarded.
Games against Birmingham RFC began back on the 9th of September 1967 when Hoppers travelled south defeating the home side by seventeen points to three and upsetting Birmingham’s celebrations after the opening of their new ground. A total of twelve contests took place before the amalgamation with Solihull, Hoppers winning five including the one and only league match at Portway to the Midlanders seven successes.
Games against the now defunct Solihull rugby club began on the 7th of October 1978 at Lightfoot Green with the home team beginning an undefeated run of five games against this particular opposition. These games included one drawn game and the only league meeting between the two sides a couple of seasons before the merger.
Once Birmingham Solihull was formed things went well for the Hoppers winning the first three meetings before a drawn game during the 1995/6 season turned things round, our opponents going on to win all but one of the seven games to follow until Hoppers victory at Lightfoot Green earlier this season.
So if you gather all the various teams that can be associated with next weeks opponents under one collective results couldn’t be much closer with Hoppers shading it, winning fourteen games to thirteen plus a couple of drawn encounters.
The picture featured above is from our Archive Collection which is currently in the process of being copied and edited before handing over to the Lancashire Archives for safe keeping. This particular photo was taken at Lightfoot Green on the 8th of January 1994 when this Saturday’s opponents were the visitors. There are five or possibly six Hoppers in the frame, can you name them all?
I need our members help with the editing of many photographs in the collection before it’s handed over. The plan is to have an afternoon/evening where the photographs can be viewed and hopefully many of the missing names and years they were taken can be added. Watch out on the website and in the Matchday programme for more details.
We would be very grateful if anyone who has any old Preston Grasshoppers related photographs would be kind enough to loan them to us for copying. They could make contact with the club’s office in the first instance.
Other Fixture this weekend
Preston Grasshoppers 2 vs Birkenhead Park 2
Caldy 3 vs Preston Grasshoppers 3
Burnley 2 vs Preston Grasshoppers 4
Preston Grasshoppers 5 vs Wigan 3
Home games kick off at 2.15pm.
Pictures courtesy of Mike Craig & Preston Grasshoppers Archive.