Ilkley Preview

Date: 28 February 2018

After last weekend’s break in proceedings Preston Grasshoppers and their supporters now have two consecutive home games to look forward to. The first of these sees Ilkley rugby club make their maiden visit to Lightfoot Green, and first to Preston since the 24th of November 1962 when on the day, the home side ran out comfortable winners.

Words by Mike Forshaw, photo by Mike Craig

Our visitors took the result of the game over in Yorkshire right down to the wire only to sacrifice a comfortable nine points lead with just twelve minutes left on the clock allowing the visitors to come away with a five point winning margin and try bonus point victory to boot. It was an uncomfortable experience for Hoppers that day, having not only to reverse a late lead by the home side but also a twelve point deficit at the interval.

Ilkley handed out another warning to Hoppers in their last outing at the beginning of February when they demolished high flying Lymm at Stacks Field. Having no game since then will have given our visitors lively backs plenty of time to re-charge their batteries.

On their last outing, Preston Grasshoppers first visit to Feathers Field over in Pocklington once again gave their large band of travelling supporters a nervous afternoon. A brace of tries from Matt Lamprey and a couple of successful goal kicks by Jobe Roxby added to Scott Jordan and Sam Stott’s tries gave the visitors a narrow victory over the home side who were keen to show that their lowly position in the league masked a dedicated squad of players.

Whilst the Hoppers players had a rest last weekend all three of their closest rivals were hard at work trying to make up the points difference between themselves and us. Second placed Harrogate, whom are our next visitors after this weeks game against Ilkley, travelled to fellow Yorkshire club Sandal and found a side who had recently troubled Hull, stiff opposition. The home side finally succumbed to the visitors in a high scoring game with Harrogate securing all five points available.

The other two challengers Hull and Lymm faced each other down in Cheshire were the visitors ran out narrow winners picking up just four league points for the win with the home side gaining a single losing bonus point.

The result of all this means that Hull leapfrog Lymm and  are now seventeen points behind ourselves with a postponed game at Kirkby Lonsdale yet to fit in, probably on the 17th of March. Harrogate have two points more than Hull thus maintaining second place and have now played the same number of games as ourselves as have Lymm who are twenty points adrift with just six games left to play.   

As mentioned previously, it’s been some time since Preston Grasshoppers and Ilkley have crossed swords. Up to and including the game in 1963, there have been nineteen matches between the two going back to the first encounter back in Preston in 1927. That game was played at Faringdon Park on the 10th of September where the home side ran out comfortable winners, twenty one points to nil.

A full record of games between the two clubs shows that Ilkley have the upper hand over there Lancashire rivals, winning ten to Hoppers nine with three games falling foul of the weather plus a three all draw.

The 1869 Club have a poster on the noticeboard for the trip to Lymm in Cheshire with the usual lunch stop en-route. As usual, everyone’s welcome with the fare £15 and accompanied juniors travelling for £5 each. The coaches depart Lightfoot Green at 11:00am and will leave Beechwood around an hour after the final whistle. This will be a crucial game for Hoppers and the players would appreciate as much travelling support as possible.


Hoppers last outing saw the debuts of Louis McGowan who has been loaned to us by Caldy until the end of this season and Jobe Roxby who was given the opportunity after an impressive season so far with the 2nd XV. Jobe stamped his mark on the event, taking over the kicking duties and duly adding five points to the scoreline.

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