Season Review 2012/2013
At the end of another successful season it’s good to look back on various team and personal achievements and whilst the County Courier League Champions in the shape of Hoppers Thirds were voted Preston Grasshoppers Team of the Season, there were other notable team and individual efforts from within the club.
Starting at the top, our First XV couldn’t quite emulate last season’s effort in finishing third, but fourth place in what was generally considered a stronger league than in recent seasons and for the first time ever reaching one hundred league and one thousand game points certainly showed the team are heading in the right direction.
Sean Taylor’s haul of 336 league points pipped Steve Kerry’s long standing total of 317 and made him top points scorer in the league by some margin and just second in the goal kicking table, his 20 tries for the season placed him sixth in National 2 North. In his first season at Lightfoot Green Adam Birchall finished in ninth place on 19 from just 22 appearances which was boosted with 7 in the last two games of the season. Matt Hughes finished just behind with 18 touch downs from 25 starts.
Hoppers 2’s had another successful season, losing just two games, remaining undefeated on their travels and finishing in the runners up place. To compensate for this they won the Raging Bull Cup Final against Caldy.
At this point it’s fair to say both these teams (or should that be a 1st XV Squad) owe a great deal to the Rugby Management, coaching, physio, training, nutrition and conditioning team, for without their input none of this would be possible. We mustn’t forget ‘Willie’ Peel who like Michael Lough was in his first season and has made a valuable contribution also.
The Fourth and Sixth teams both finished in third place of their respective leagues whilst the Fifths finished mid table. A notable achievement that all Hoppers senior sides apart from the 5th’s ended the season in the top half of their tables.
Our Women’s team, now reinstated as ‘Preston Grasshoppers Ladies’ and free from the Fleetwood connection also had their successes losing just two of their fourteen fixtures and finishing in runners up spot behind Vagabonds from the Isle of Man.
The Senior Colts recently won the Lancashire Colts Cup and were runners up in the Raging Bull North West Colts Cup, Raging Bull North West Senior Colts A League and add to this the Junior Colts winning the Raging Bull North West Colts Junior Plate it’s fair to say our Mini Junior section are still delivering the goods producing talented youngsters for the senior game. A very well done to the organising and coaching staff who give up their time each week and have done for many seasons. Lower down the age groups our U15’s and U13’s won their respective Lancashire Cup Finals in the Blacksticks Blue Challenge.
As well as our Colts and Juniors achievements for the County this season, the fact that seven of our senior players featured in the Bill Beaumont County Championship and at the age of just nineteen Phil Mills is probably the youngest ‘Hopper’ to wear the famous red and white hooped shirt all adds up to a remarkable feat and compensates in some way for our inability to retain the Lancashire Cup in a close final contest against Sedgley Park on their own turf. What a finish to the season for our County players to have the opportunity of playing at Twickenham and didn’t they do themselves justice in helping defeat Cornwall to lift the title!
Mention must also be made of Eddie Webster’s selection to tour with the England Counties U20 squad this Summer and Sean Taylor’s for the senior England Counties tour to Belguim plus ‘Dad’ Brierley finally hanging up his boots which was much reported on local TV and social media networks.
One final group of awards were bestowed upon the club this year when at the Lancashire County RFU Awards Dinner & Presentation Evening, the prestigious title of Senior Club of the Year was presented to Preston Grasshoppers for the second consecutive year together with Sean Taylor collecting the Young Player of the Season award and last but by no means least Eddie Webster was given the title of Lancashire Under 20’s player of the year which nicely rounded off a most successful season.