Preston Grasshoppers vs. Sedgley Park– Kick Off 2.30pm
Hoppers selection for the Lancashire Derby with Sedgley Park shows one or two changes from last weeks starting XV. Mo Mustafa moves up from the bench and Alex Austin replaces Andy Irving in the second row. The backs line up as last week at Dore Moor.
On the bench Chris Taylor and James Mawdsley (on his return to the club from a stint at Stockport) join last weeks contingent.
1. Richard Morton, 2. Alan Holmes, 3. Mo Mustafa, 4. Alex Austin, 5. Ali Murray, 6. Andy Napier, 7. Kilian Wallace, 8. Dominic Moon. Captain, 9. Craig Aikman. 10. Lewis Allen, 11. Alex Zavallis-Roebuck, 12. Jack Ward, 13. Phil Baines, 14. Antony Elliott, 15. Sean Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Phil Mills, 17. Chris Taylor, 18. Sam Kindred, 19. James Mawdsley, 20. Jack Walker.
Sedgley Park will line up as follows:
15 Richard Wainwright, 14 Billy Fisher, 13 Matt Riley, 12 Chris Wilkinson, 11 Andy Riley, 10 Steve Collins, 9 Paul Urmston, 8 Juan Crous, 7 Billy Emerson, 6 Jonny Bishop, 5 Louis McGowan, 4 Jimmy Lloyd, 3 Ben Black, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Max Ashcroft.
16 George Hymes, 17 Paul Wilson, 18 Matt Lamprey, 19 Callum McShane, 20 Curtis Strong
Hoppers first home game of the season falls forty years and two weeks since the opening game at Lightfoot Green when Vale of Lune were our visitors and turned out to be ‘party poopers’ defeating the home side by twelve points to three. A penalty kick by Nigel Harrison started the ball rolling, scoring the first ever points for Preston Grasshoppers at Lightfoot Green.
On the corresponding weekend to this in 1973, Preston Grasshoppers were making the long trek to Lydney where they were handed out a severe beating for their troubles so forty years on it’s hoped a change of fortune comes our way and Sedgley Park offer due reverence.
Encounters with our visitors from Whitefield, 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 a League fixture 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 a couple of years ago, the two teams haven’t met when league points are at stake since.
The full record between Hoppers and Sedgley Park reads in Preston Grasshoppers favour by twelve to six. The three Club games back in the 1980’s were all won by Hoppers and league wins stand in favour of Hoppers by four to two whilst Lancashire Cup clashes are also in Hoppers favour by four to one. 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 fifteen games between the two clubs, Hoppers winning eleven to Park’s four.
Since our last league encounter, Sedgley Park have added ‘Tigers’ to their name so Hoppers will be facing an ambush of tigers for the second week in succession!
In last Saturday’s opening fixture Sedgley confirmed their pre-season tag of promotion contenders, starting the season with a comprehensive home victory over Cheshire side Caldy last Saturday and sit atop the National Two North table, whilst Hoppers returned from their trip to Yorkshire with a hard earned victory over Sheffield Tigers which turned out to be the only away victory of the week in N2N.
There’s been quite a considerable movement of players both to and from Park Lane over the summer, some of which include Nick Flynn moving to Sale FC, Richard Oxley & Garth Dew retiring with Garth returning to his roots and being involved with Hoppers coaching set up this season. Adam Lewis has returned to Fylde and on the incoming side Jonathan Matthews, hooker/blindside from Otley, Billy Emerson a back row forward who is on Sale Sharks books, prop George Hymes with similar pedigree, Max Ashcroft from Sale FC, Rob Holloway of Altrincham Kersal, Mike Simmonds & Curtis Strong from Fylde plus Jamie Holder who’s arrived from Vale of Lune.
The only other game being played at Lightfoot Green his coming Saturday is a Rogerson HomeServe+ Division 4 North fixture between Hoppers Fifths and Fleetwood Thirds.
The Under 11s will play a touring team from Galashiels in a curtain raiser before the 1st XV game.
Photograph courtesy of Sid Wallace