Huddersfield vs. Preston Grasshoppers – Kick Off 3.00pm
Skipper Dominic Moon makes a welcome return to Hoppers colours after helping out his ‘Old Boss’ Dave Baldwin at Leeds Carnegie for a couple of weeks and sampling life as a full time rugby player. This means Conor Murphy takes a seat on the bench whilst Andy Napier keeps his place in the back row after his impressive Man of the Match performance on his starting début last week against Sheffield Tigers.
In the backs Karl Fitzpatrick isn’t available therefore Lewis Allen takes the number ten shirt while on the bench, Josh Purnell returns to make his claim for a starting place in the absence of injured Sam Kindred.
1. Mo Mustafa, 2. Phil Mills, 3. Andy Irving, 4. Gareth Gore, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Andy Napier, 7. Will Keenan,8. Dominic Moon. Captain, 9. Craig Aikman. 10. Lewis Allen,11. Adam Birchall, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Matt Hughes, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Chris Gale, 17. Richard Morton,18. Eddie Webster, 19. Conor Murphy, 20. Josh Purnell.
After a third consecutive victory last Saturday Hoppers appear to be back on track since their mid season blip and this weekend make the relatively short trip to play a struggling Huddersfield outfit who have recorded just a couple of victories and a draw from nineteen league outings so far this season.
The visitors will be looking to gain a first ever victory at Lockwood Park in a competitive match, similar to breaking their duck at Dudley Kingswinford and Hull earlier this season.
Our hosts position became even worse last weekend when Stockport recorded just their second victory of the season over Caldy landing our opponents in bottom spot, but more importantly are nearly twenty points from the safety of thirteenth place. Huddersfield won’t have given up however forlorn their position might seem, and as has been witnessed in recent seasons, some clubs have made a miraculous recovery and avoided the drop come the end of the season.
Although the Yorkshire club lost their main points machine Chris Johnson during the summer when he joined Fylde’s ranks, this can’t be the only reason they’re struggling this campaign. After all, Huddersfield were in the top third of the league for the first half of last season and at one time looked like at least making the play-offs.
After being promoted into National N2 five seasons ago games against Huddersfield, had resulted in home victories until the Lightfoot Green fixture back in December 2011 when the visitors broke the sequence with a seven point (and their first ever) League win at Lightfoot Green. The old trend continued though in the return fixture when Huddersfield ran out three point winners in a sixty seven points fest at Lockwood Park near the end of the season. Interestingly, that’s one of only three victories in twenty eight league games for Huddersfield thus highlighting their sudden demise.
Hoppers gained revenge for the two defeats suffered last season with a comprehensive win at Lightfoot Green back in October when Sean Taylor scored a hat trick of tries amongst his twenty eight point haul. An Adam Birchall double together with tries from Jack Ward, Eddie Webster and Conor Murphy completed the fifty six points to thirteen victory.
Meetings between the two clubs go back to the late 1950’s when Hoppers made the first journey over the Pennines to play Huddersfield on the 29th of March 1958 at The Waterloo Ground. Amongst our collection of old programmes, we have a subsequent visit there some twenty years later during the 1977-78 season on a day when Huddersfield ran out comfortable winners twenty two points to six. Many of the names listed to play that day are still associated with Hoppers and I’m sure those from the Huddersfield line up are still involved at Lockwood Park.
15. J. Slater, 14. A. Roberts, 13. I.Valentine, 12. C.T. Hinchcliffe, 11. M. Szostak, 10. C. Evans, 9. C. Liversidge, 1. R. Aucland, 2. J. Billington (Captain), 3. A. Booth, 4. M. S. Walker, 5. H. Nicholson, 6. A. Earnshaw, 7. E. Whitwam, 8. D. J. Walker.
15. J. Martin, 14. T. Hollick, 13. A. Blake, 12. S. Liptrot (Captain) 11. C. S. Graham 10. T. Worth, 9. P. H. Wright, 1. G. Cox, 2. P. Lever, 3. W. Clark, 4. A. Mole, 5. D. Parker, 6. R. Dransfield, 7. I. Dyer, 8. J. Powell
The playing record between this week’s opponents sits in favour of Huddersfield by thirty victories against twenty three to Hoppers with two matches ending all square and one being cancelled. Meetings in Preston however are in favour of the home team with 17 victories against 9 and both drawn games being played at Lea. There was one other meeting between the two teams, this was a pre-season practice game at Lockwood Park before the start of the 2003/04 season when Hoppers ran riot, winning 79-19. This was however small consolation at the end of the season when we were relegated to North 1.
There are a couple of games being played at Lightfoot Green this Saturday where the Second XV will be entertaining Caldy 2nd’s and the Fifths host Burnley 2nd’s and as the Sixths have a rest week some might like to join the travelling band of supporters on the 1869 Club coach to Huddersfield and renew old acquaintances from that part of the world?
Coach to Huddersfield
Anyone interested in travelling to Huddersfield with the 1869 Club will find a poster on the Noticeboard where they can add their names. The fare is £15 or £10 if sufficient numbers travel and as usual, accompanied juniors go for free. The trip is due to leave the clubhouse at 10.45 with a stop for lunch on the way. Departure from Lockwood Park will be the usual one hour after the final whistle with arrival back at Lightfoot Green around 7pm. Players parents and relatives are most welcome and can be picked up en-route if sufficient notice is given.