Preston Grasshoppers vs. Hull Ionians – Kick Off 2.30pm
15. Sean Taylor 14. Matt Hughes, 13. Sean Long, 12. Russ Flynn, 11. Phil Baines, 10. Graham Holroyd, 9. Tom Smith, 1. Andy Irving, 2. Richie Sands, 3. Richard Morton, 4. Ali Atkinson 5. Alex Austin, 6. Matt Charters; Capt, 7. Killian Wallace, 8. Dominic Moon,
Replacements: 16. Chris Lowden, 17. Alan Holmes 18. Will Bordill, 19. Karl Fitzpatrick 20. Owen McKenna.
Coach Dave Baldwin has a wealth of riches to pick from this week, and must have had an enviable job selecting both a starting line-up and bench from a growing squad of players all vying for selection. Recently, Wayne Steel, Mark Rigbye and Richie Sands have come back into contention for a place, which gives more options in the front five.
However, the starting line up shows just one change from last week with Ali Atkinson returning for Wayne Steel.
Alan Holmes makes an appearance on the bench, a few weeks since his move from local rivals Fylde. He’s a brilliant signing for Hoppers, and it’s a pity the event has been overshadowed slightly by the news of this week’s high profile home depute Sean Long. The name Holmes on the selection sheet will be giving the coaches another headache, as they now have three experienced contenders for the number two shirt to choose from.
It’s also great to see ‘Fitz’ back after recovering from a niggling injury picked up earlier this season.
With the influx of a number of new recruits to Hoppers ranks during the summer and recent weeks, there are just four players who have played in all games so far. Dominic Moon, who is featured in this week’s photo, plus Matt Hughes, Phil Baines and Vice captain Sean Taylor.
Just a mention here about the 2nd’s, and looking at the team being sent to Chester to represent the club makes one wish such talent in depth had been available in the past!
A glance at our visitors website shows there are a number of new recruits from Rotherham and Doncaster jumping straight into their starting fifteen this Saturday. This will certainly make Hoppers job in securing a victory more difficult that it would have been a few weeks ago. The Hull Ionians Committee certainly haven’t been slow in utilising their new found assets, with everything pointing to an interesting afternoon!
Hoppers visitors this week are our old rivals from Humberside Hull Ionians, who will know all about their host’s famous home debutant Sean Long, who had a couple of seasons playing for the other code at Hull FC. The Yorkshire club have had their worst start to a season for some time, but a recent cash injection from Hull AFC owner Assem Allam, showing his commitment to sport in the area, will no doubt go some way in steadying the ship.
Hoppers will be hoping to build on what was arguably their best performance of the season last week at Stockport in front of what is expected to be the home club’s biggest crowd since the visit of Fylde earlier this year which attracted 670 spectators. The host club moved up to their highest position in the table this season after last week’s away victory, whilst their visitors are struggling to escape the clutches of bottom spot.
Rugby matches between Hoppers and various clubs in Hull have been taking place for fifty years, going back to when Hull & East Riding visited our old ground at Lea on the 22nd of April 1961 where the home team ran out winners by fourteen points to three. A match programme from that inaugural fixture survives amongst our archive collection, plus one from the return match the following year played at ‘Ridings Goddard Avenue ground. Interestingly, the programme notes that day record the home sides last game, which was against Ionians at Elloughton which is where Hull Ionians were born in 1989 when Hull & East Riding and Ionians amalgamated.
Fixtures against Hull Ionians started in their inaugural season on the 7th of October 1989 here at Lightfoot Green, when this time the visiting team were victorious by thirteen points to nine. The home side that day included Joe Hindle, Dave Percy, Brent Horton, Roy Dransfield, “Bill” Bailey no wonder we lost and sometime Hoppers cricketer, John Kilner.
The record so far between today’s rivals stands in Hoppers favour by thirteen victories to ten and who will be seeking to avenge their heaviest defeat against the Ionians in last season’s game at Brantingham Park when the home team served out a thrashing by sixty points to twenty one.
Next week Hoppers venture once again this season into Yorkshire, renewing acquaintances with old rivals Otley. The 1869 Club are hoping to run a coach but can only do so with your support. Please add your name to the list on the noticeboard.
Other games being played at Lightfoot Green this weekend include:
Hoppers 3rds vs. Sandbach 2nds
Hoppers 4ths vs. Rochdale 2nds
Sunday sees a strange coincidence when our Women’s team also have a home fixture against a side from Hull, while the Senior Colts host Burnage and their Junior partners play Altrincham Kersal at home, both with a 2pm Kick Off.