Hoppers Host Hull In Top Of The Table Battle

Date: 04 January 2018

The first game of 2018 may well turn out to be a defining one for both Preston Grasshoppers and second placed Hull when they meet at Lightfoot Green in this Saturday’s return fixture.

Words by Mike Forshaw, Photo by Mike Craig

Currently twelve points behind Hoppers with a game in hand, Hull will travel to Preston realising that defeat will make a big dent in their hopes of automatic promotion and with this in mind a cracker of a game is in prospect.

A look back to earlier in the season when the same fixture was played over in Yorkshire and things didn’t go well for Hoppers even before they arrived at Chanterlands Avenue. Held up by heavy traffic on the motorway the visitors arrived just forty minutes before kick off time and the home side took full advantage scoring a couple of early tries with Hoppers ‘still on the bus’. Eventually recovering from the poor start, Hoppers began to put pressure on the home side. Starting the second period ten points to nil behind they dominated play until injury time when with the scores level Hull at last ventured into Hoppers territory only to be denied any success but wondering why they didn’t attempt a drop at goal!

Since that game back in mid September Hull have lost on just two occasions, at home to Lymm and Billingham and remain undefeated on their travels so far this season. So once again this season, Lightfoot Green will probably see one side or the other lose a proud record. Hoppers boast a six match winning home record whilst their visitors have won all five games away from home since losing at Rossendale back in March last season.

The visitors winger Stephen Hihetah has, with the season only half way through already smashed the Hull RUFC try scoring record. He and his speedy partner Mike Adlard on the other wing have scored forty one tries between them in just fourteen games. Danny Smith’s twelve year old record of twenty six went out of the window during Hull’s last game of 2017 when Stephen scored his sixth tally of three or more tries in a match this season..

Preston Grasshoppers and Hull have on more than one occasion met with plenty to play for over the years. Hoppers supporters who travelled to Hull’s previous home at Howarth Road for the first meeting between the two sides back in the 2004/5 season will recall a very similar state of affairs. The situation of that game was very much the same as this weeks encounter, both sides were striving for promotion from North 1. Hoppers ended the season as Champions whilst it took Hull until 2009 to escape. Previous to this season’s meetings, the last encounter was in Hull where a Hoppers victory secured survival for the visitors but dealt the home side’s fate and relegation was sealed.

The statistics tell us there to have been sixteen meetings between the two clubs with Hoppers holding the upper hand, winning nine including one in a National Cup tie to Hull’s five successes plus a couple of drawn affairs.

The 1869 Club are running a supporters coach to The Wirral once again for Hoppers next excursion, this time to Birkenhead Park. Departing at 10:45 the coach fare will be the usual £15 and £5 for accompanied children with the return journey to Preston departing about one hour after the final whistle.

Also planned is a third ‘Two Coach Quiz’ on the outward journey between the supporters and team coaches. The ‘1869’ers’ inflicted another defeat on the ‘1st XV’ travelling to Wirral and will be looking to maintain their 100% record, although the ‘Danger Man’ will be back with pen in hand.

Here’s the Line Up


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