Preston Grasshoppers vs. Kendal – Kick Off 2.30pm
Hoppers Team News:
15. Sean Taylor 14. Matt Hughes, 13. Sean Long, 12. Jack Ward, 11. Phil Baines, 10. Graham Holroyd, 9. Mark Edwards 1. Chris Gayle, 2. Alan Holmes 3. Richard Morton, 4. Ali Atkinson 5. Wayne Steel, 6. Matt Charters; Capt, 7. Killian Wallace, 8. Connor Murphy.
Replacements: 16. Alan Martindale 17. Andy Irving, 18. Dominic Moon 19. Karl Fitzpatrick, 20. Matt Gargett.
Coach Dave Baldwin has the luxury of selecting the same line up that started last week’s game at Caldy, the only change to the squad being Dominic Moon’s return after his forced absence through suspension. He takes the place of the unlucky Alex Austin on the bench.
Kendal announce their Squad:
Kendal’s team for this Saturday’s derby shows a number of changes from their winning line up last week. Ex. Hopper Steffan Thomas drops to the bench along with Matty Houghton while Duncan Green and Dave Barton move in the other direction.
There’s no sign of Ian Voortman or the prolific Mark Ireland so long a thorn in Hoppers side, or Kendal’s captain from earlier in the season Liam Hayton, but old warhorse Richard Harryman returns to Skipper the side, and that must be good news to our visitors.
Venter, Green, Harryman(C), Gore, Redhead, Holmes, Mallinson, Bowman, Davidson
Park, Postlethwaite, Barton, Mercer, Bratton, Boardley.
Replacements; Chesher, Houghton, Ellis, Craghill, Thomas
With Kendal being next Saturday’s visitors, the last league game of 2011 sees our long-standing rivals from Cumbria make the pre-Christmas encounter have something of a “local rivals” feel to it.
Hoppers will be keen to avenge the unexpected defeat at Mint Bridge earlier in the season, the visitors never recovering from two very early tries by the home team catching them ‘still in the dressing room’. So the home club will be hoping to end the year on a high note with a win in front of what looks like being a big crowd, all the places for Christmas Lunch being sold for some time. Chef Allan and his helpers look to have a busy day in front of them with 300 diners to feed.
The home club will be looking to put an end to a long sequence of ‘win one lose one’ which stretches back to mid October, a total of nine games.
Last weeks win on the road was the third in succession, a feat not equalled for a number of years and although opponents Caldy were handicapped with injuries both before and during the game, Hoppers managed to grind out a notable away win against high flying opposition. It was good to see Ali Atkinson register his first try for the club.
Kendal’s season hasn’t got much better since Hoppers visit in September, although they had a good win against Nuneaton last Saturday. The Cumbrian’s results show just three home wins out of the thirteen games played since Hoppers played them at Mint Bridge. Hoppers will note that Kendal arrive at Lightfoot Green with an identical away record to recent visitors Hull Ionians, and we all know what happened that day!
Fixtures against today’s opponents began in their inaugural season back in 1906 with a three-all-draw at our Riverside Ground before the return fixture at Maude’s Meadow resulted in a victory to the home team. This weekend’s game at Lightfoot Green will be the 105th between the two old clubs, the 51st in Preston. Hoppers have found victories over the Cumbrians a little easier at home than on their travels, and if successful it would be their twenty fifth.
Back in Time:
The Hoppers team from one of our old programmes against Kendal makes interesting reading. Wearing the number 9 shirt was one L. Anson. Knowing the young Les was a hooker had me baffled for a second until I noticed that the forwards were numbered 8-15. It seems that back when this game was played, shirt numbering was the reverse to what you see today, with the full back wearing number 1. This leads me to ask what the modern day number eight would have been known as back in those days when he wore the 15 shirt?
Coincidentally this game was played almost to the day, fifty five years ago on the 15th of December 1956 when Hoppers lost by nine points to nil at the Mint Bridge Ground. The programme states that it was the fifty fifth meeting, just over half way to this week’s total.
Games were generally low scoring affairs until relatively recently and a glance at the games Kendal had played so far that season shows that they had conceded less than ten points in fifteen out of seventeen games at the half way stage of the season. There was a nil all draw amongst that lot against Penrith early in the season that must have been an exciting game!
Mentioned in dispatches after appearing that day were Bert Shepherd and Cliff Young, who were both noted as having good games, but Hoppers full-back Rutherford was the outstanding player even though he missed a penalty from in front of the posts in the dying minutes of the game. Playing conditions were noted as being ankle deep in mud, much as you might expect today at Mint Bridge, so nothing there has changed over the last fifty odd years!
Hoppers 2nds have a free week this Saturday, but here are the other games being played at Lightfoot Green weather permitting:
Hoppers 3rds vs. Birkenhead Park 2
Hoppers 4ths vs. Littleborough 2
Next Sunday sees our Senior Colts take on Aldwinians and their Junior partners host Broughton Park, both at Lightfoot Green with a 2pm Kick Off time. Come along and support our up and coming 1st teamers!
Our First XV’s next home game is on the 14th of January when Bromsgrove make their first ever visit to Lightfoot Green.
If this seems a long way off, don’t forget there’s a game here on Boxing Day when club stalwart Graham Cox is having a game played as a mark of his long service to Preston Grasshoppers. Keep an eye on the club’s website for updates and news possibly of Rugby Star Players making a rare re-appearance back in Preston!
Before that, there is the ex. Colts match with Vale of Lune on Wednesday the 21st of December with a 6.30 kick off time. Again keep your eye on the website for updates and team news.
May I take this opportunity to wish all readers a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year.
Mulled wine will be available from the bar. Get into the Christmas spirit!