Fylde vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Lancashire Cup Semi Final
Kick Off 3.00pm
Hoppers 1st XV will take a break from League rugby on Easter Monday, but that doesn’t signify an easy fixture. The Lancashire Cup draw has thrown up a tasty clash between the current cup holders and our long time rivals Fylde.
The tie is actually a semi final as both Hoppers and Fylde received walk overs from Manchester and Burnage respectively at the beginning of the season. The victors will play Sedgley Park or Widnes in the final on a date yet to be agreed at the end of the season.
The game takes place at The Woodlands the scene of last seasons victory over Sedgley Park who had dumped Fylde out of the competition at the semi final stage at the same venue.
Lancashire cup ties traditionally give the coaching staff an opportunity to rest a few of their first team regulars and give fringe squad players an outing. But with both Hoppers and Fylde having games on Saturday we will have to see what Michael Lough’s options are after the games at Chester and Caldy, whilst on the other hand, Fylde coach Mark Nelson will have the luxury of a fully rested second string to pick from as this is their free weekend.
Team selection isn’t made easier with the North U20’s tournament taking Hoppers regulars Phil Mills, Eddie Webster and Ali Murray, whilst Fylde will be without Ben Rath.
Historically fixtures between Hoppers and Fylde go back to our opponents second season in 1921 when the two teams met at Ansdell on Boxing Day with the home side coming out on top by eight points to nil. Hoppers gained revenge later in the season with a home win at the Riverside Ground, thirteen points to three. This was Hoppers first full season back in action since games ceased due to the war. Apparently a game was scheduled for April 1921 on the Fylde coast, but this was subsequently cancelled.
Hoppers had quite an involvement with the forming of the Fylde club, some of their members taking an active roll in setting the club up along with Blackburn and in an earlier era, the Vale of Lune Club. Hoppers were asked to hold off playing after the war period for a season, to help the two new clubs establish themselves.
There have been just less than one hundred and fifty meetings between Fylde and Preston Grasshoppers, but as this is a Lancashire Cup Tie we’ll stick to the results of these games. Our records can tell us the first meeting was at Lightfoot Green in the 1989/90 season when Hoppers ran out winners by nineteen points to twelve. All told there have been eight meetings in the competition, Hoppers winning three to Fylde’s five.
Photo’s by kind permission of Mike Craig & Catherine Forshaw.