Hoppers Play Bottom Placed Morley

Date: 30 November 2017

After successfully negotiating their last three very difficult fixtures and in so doing keeping an unbeaten record intact, Preston Grasshoppers head to Yorkshire for the third consecutive time for an away game to play bottom side Morley hoping to avoid the proverbial ‘Banana Skin’.

Words by Mike Forshaw, photo by Mike Craig

The host’s confidence will be boosted from success at Pocklington last Saturday where they recorded their first victory for this season in a close encounter. Morley have a reputation of recruiting when in difficulties in the bottom echelons of the league table, so they may have already done this and Hoppers will need to be wary.

Morley survived relegation last April thanks to a couple of wins from the last two games of the season and have had something of a Yo-Yo record over recent years. Having reached the dizzy heights of what is now the Championship (Level 2) during the early 1990’s they have fluctuated between Levels 4 and 6 in recent seasons.

Hoppers produced a measured performance over a lively Lymm side not daunted by the home sides reputation and tackled themselves to a standstill denying the men from Lightfoot Green a bonus point for just the second time this season. The visitors however couldn’t prevent Preston Grasshoppers preserving their season long unbeaten record and in turn recording a new milestone for the 1st XV in League Games with the defeat of Lymm being their eleventh game since a loss.

Ironically the new record superseded the previous run of a ten League game undefeated run which started immediately after losing at this Saturday’s opponents Scatcherd Road ground on the 11th of September 2004.

Ken Moore’s notes from that game reveal that a crucial decision by the referee to yellow card Josh Williams who had recently come onto the field from the bench, gave the home side the opportunity to take control of the game by scoring ten points during Josh’s absence. Ex-Wales fly-half Colin Stephens was a thorn in Hoppers side all afternoon, converting seven successful kicks out of eight attempts at goal. A number of notable ‘Hoppers’ appeared on the team sheet that day including Russell Flynn, the other ‘JP’, John Young, Wayne Steel with Rich Morton as Skipper. Michael Lough made a late appearance from the bench, but couldn’t prevent a thirty eight points to twenty four defeat.

Preston Grasshoppers and Morley have met on fourteen occasions over the years, the first of these occurring back in 1954 on the 18th of September long before league rugby became the norm when the home side ran out comfortable winners twenty points to three. They next met in Preston at Hoppers Lea ground a couple of years later when the Yorkshire side were once again successful. They weren’t to play each other again for nearly twenty years when two games were played in consecutive seasons, still without any success for the Hoppers.

Almost ten more years were to elapse before regular fixtures were arranged which moved things into the ‘Leagues’ era. Hoppers first success came, not surprisingly during their most successful modern day period when Brent Horton captained a formidable set of players. A Northern Merit Table Qualifying game played at Lightfoot Green during early 1985 saw the home side defeat the Yorkshiremen by thirty eight points to sixteen.

Thanks mainly to their early successes, the full record shows Morley having the overall advantage with thirteen victories to Hoppers seven plus two further fixtures in Yorkshire being cancelled, presumably due to adverse weather conditions. However within these statistics Preston Grasshoppers have the edge in League Games, winning six of the ten meetings.

The 1869 Club have a poster on the noticeboard for a trip with the usual lunch stop en-route to Morley on Saturday. As usual, everyone’s welcome with the fare £15 and accompanied juniors travelling for just £5. The coach departs Lightfoot Green at 10:30am and will leave for the return journey around an hour after the final whistle.

Here’s the side:

Back to Club News