Preston Grasshoppers vs. Harrogate – Kick Off 2.30pm
Hoppers Team News:
1. Andrew Irving, 2. Alan Martindale, 3. Chris Lowden, 4. Ali Atkinson, 5. Mark Phillips, 6. Matt Charters (C), 7. Will Bordill, 8. Dominic Moon, 9. Nathan Fowles, 10. Graham Holroyd, 11. Phil Baines, 12. Russ Flynn, 13. Owen McKenna, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor
Subs: 16. Mark Irving, 17. Richie Sands, 18.Ally Murray, 19. Mark Edwards, 20. Josh Purnell
The list of replacements this weekend shows the return of hooker Richie Sands, who has been unavailable for selection so far this season.
Last weekend saw Chris Lowden and Matt Hughes play their 50th games for Hoppers Firsts. Matt Hughes plays his 50th League game tomorrow having scored 29 tries in the previous 49 + 1 non league game.
Next Saturday sees a visit once again from our old rivals from Yorkshire. Harrogate are one of our more regular opponents since league fixtures began back in 1987.Out of the seventeen matches played, Harrogate have won 11 to our three with another three being drawn including both games in the 2000/1 season. We have to go back as far as the 9th of October 1999 to find a victory for Hoppers against the Yorkshire side at Lightfoot Green, one of only two home league wins against this weeks opponents. A home victory over our old adversaries is therefore long overdue and Hoppers will be looking to extend their recent unbeaten run of games.
With fixtures going back to the 1954/55 season, the full record reads; Hoppers 7 wins against Harrogate 24 with five ending all square and seven being cancelled for various reasons. The sequence started back on the 23rd of October 1954 at Claro Road, almost exactly fifty-seven years ago to the day. Hoppers thought they were due to play Kendal, but due to a misunderstanding between Fixture’s Secretaries a game against Harrogate was arranged at the last minute. The change in fixtures worked out quite well as it happened as the scheduled first meeting between Hoppers and Harrogate due to be played the following month was cancelled due to heavy rain. As for the misunderstanding back in 1954, I have to record that one Leslie Anson played for Hoppers Extra “A” at Thornton Cleveleys that day!
Forward to more modern times and this Saturday will see the 37th meeting between the two teams. With Hoppers having the better record so far this season they will be hoping to keep their 100% home record intact.
Harrogate have had a poor start to the season by their standards, languishing at the wrong end of the table, which is quite unusual for them. After a stunning opening day victory at Leicester Lions, they have lost the next three of their fixtures away from home. Their only other success’ this season being against Sheffield Tigers, who Hoppers defeated last Saturday and last week’s drawn game against Nuneaton, both at home.
Coach Dave Baldwin will be hoping the steady improvement seen in the team’s performances throughout the early part of this season can continue against Harrogate, and a few players who have been missing, will be back in the reckoning for selection.
Photo courtesy of Mick Craig
Other games taking place this weekend at Lightfoot Green and kicking off at 3pm:
Hoppers 5ths vs. Tarleton 2nds
Hoppers 6ths vs. Bolton 4ths
The following day sees our Senior Colts take on Glossop & Marple and their Junior partners playing Lymm at Lightfoot Green with a 3pm Kick Off time. Come along and support the boys!
Next week sees the First XV make the long journey to Luctonians who somewhat surprisingly lost at lowly Hull last Saturday. They will no doubt have a stern welcome waiting for the visitors on the field with a warm one in the clubhouse if last season is anything to go by.
Saturday’s game is also the occasion of ‘Ladies Day’. Please see this link for more details.