Hoppers Head To Third Place Harrogate

Date: 09 November 2017

Preston Grasshoppers head for Yorkshire once again this Saturday and for a change will be playing more familiar opponents than those of recent weeks. Harrogate, who were relegated with Hoppers last season will without doubt be the toughest test yet and it will take a very good performance if the visitors are to keep their season long unbeaten run intact.

Words by Mike Forshaw, photo by Mike Craig

Harrogate sit in third position just seven points behind Hoppers and will be anxious to close that margin whilst the visitors will look to open up a larger gap with next weeks opponents, second placed Lymm hoping for a Hoppers slip up.

It was the same old season long story for Preston Grasshoppers last Saturday at Ilkley with a deficit needing to be overhauled, usually during the last quarter of the game. This was the seventh time it’s occurred already from just nine outings! The players need to give some consideration to the shredded nerves of their loyal band of supporters. Thankfully the ‘Game Plan’ was successfully accomplished once again at Stacks Field and Ally Murray was able to celebrate his 150th appearance with a try to boot along with the large band of relieved travelling fans.

Our hosts this week are just a handful of points behind Hoppers as we go into Saturday’s game, mainly due to the heavy defeat they suffered at the hands of Wirral earlier in the season plus a narrow home reverse when they played Hull the following weekend. Since then though they’ve remained undefeated in five games with pride of place being the scalp of Kirkby Lonsdale who had remained undefeated in fifty one home games before the visit of Harrogate.

When demolished, Harrogate’s old ground off Claro Road took with it one of Hoppers records, albeit not a good one. Back in November 2013 the visitors found themselves forty points to five behind at half time. However the visitors mounted a spirited recovery attempt during the second period, but one more Harrogate try foiled the comeback of all time and Hoppers ended up losing by those five points. The record previously mentioned being the forty points scored in a defeat away from Preston. Ally Murray and Dan Madden are the only survivors at Lightfoot Green from the squad that day.

The Yorkshiremen are one of our more regular opponents since league fixtures began back in 1987. Out of the twenty seven matches played, Harrogate have won seventeen to our seven with another three being drawn, including both games in the 2000/1 season.

The Hoppers supporters who travelled over to Harrogate last season are no doubt still suffering nightmares from the last time we played at Rudding Park. To make matters worse salt was rubbed into the wound in the reverse fixture back in Preston. Everyone travelling from Lancashire will be hoping the new set up from Lightfoot Green can help to erase some of those bad memories.

With fixtures going back to the 1954/55 season the full record of games between the two clubs reads, Hoppers eleven wins against Harrogate’s thirty, with five ending all square and seven being cancelled for various reasons in a sequence which started back on the 23rd of October 1954 at Claro Road, Harrogate.

Here’s the line up:

Copy of 1st XV Team Sheet (1)

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