Hoppers host Sedgley Park

Date: 16 December 2015

Preston Grasshoppers  vs. Sedgley Park – Kick Off 2.30pm

Hoppers are back at home this Saturday for the final league game of 2015 with local rivals Sedgley Park the visitors. Our opponents from the Whitefield area of Outer Manchester currently sit second place in the table and with a convincing victory over league leaders Macclesfield under their belt from a couple of weeks ago, they’ll be full of confidence for the short trip north to Lightfoot Green.

Games between the two sides last season would both have been won by Preston Grasshoppers had it not been for a last ditch converted try at Park Lane by the home side at this time last year, thus giving them a two point victory in sixty three.

Our visitors have stepped up their effort for promotion from last season and currently look favourites for one of the top two places, but I’m sure Garth Dew with the confidence of last week will be looking to carry forward his sides performances against his former Club and give all Hoppers supporters an early Christmas present.

Whilst our visitors game last week fell foul of the torrential rain, Hoppers took full advantage of the adverse conditions at Lockwood Park and all but shut the home team out of the game, coming away with a convincing five points victory before the referee called a halt to proceedings some twelve minutes short of the scheduled eighty. After Hoppers had been awarded a Penalty Try giving them the bonus point and the game way beyond recovery for the home side, conditions underfoot weren’t getting any better so the referee consulted both captains and the sensible decision was made to end the game there and then.

Every credit should be given to all concerned in the victory with a special vote of thanks to the hardy souls who made what looked for most of the day, a hopeless journey across the Pennines. Memories of the trip will go down in the annals of 1869 Club history alongside stories of similar weather conditions at Bracknell and just a couple of weeks ago at Harrogate’s new home, although without the ‘comfort’ of a grandstand for cover in those earlier instances.

The end is nigh! Hoppers pack head for the line and a Penalty try.

The end is nigh! Hoppers pack head for the line and a Penalty try.

Encounters with our hosts from Greater Manchester commenced just about ten years after our move from Lea to Fulwood with an away game and victory by twelve points to six. Sedgley had stepped into a vacant Easter Saturday fixture date on the 2nd of April 1983 after Blackburn had pulled out and the event started a short run of fixtures for just three years all of which were won by Hoppers.

The next time the two clubs met was in the first ever League fixture which was played at Park Lane back in 1997 when Hoppers continued their winning ways with a narrow twenty points to sixteen victory. Hoppers went on to complete the double that season and it wasn’t until we played a Lancashire Cup tie at Lightfoot Green during the 2000/2001 season that ‘Park achieved a victory over Preston Grasshoppers something that was repeated in league form at the double during the following season when Hoppers were relegated from National 1. Sedgley Park however remained at Level 3 and apart from a number of Lancashire Cup ties and a pre-season fixture during 2011, the two teams hadn’t met in league action until the 2013/14 season. The playing record between Hoppers and Sedgley Park shows the current standing to be in Preston Grasshoppers favour.

The three Club games back in the 1980’s were all won by Hoppers and league wins stand in favour of Preston by six to three whilst Lancashire Cup clashes are also in Hoppers favour by four to three. The pre-season game played at Lightfoot Green back in 2011 turned out to be a comprehensive victory for the visitors. So there have been nineteen games in all between the two clubs, Hoppers winning thirteen to Sedgley Park’s eight.

Photograph at top of page – And this was before the game started last week at Lockwood Park!

Photos courtesy of Mike Forshaw

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