Stourbridge trip for 1st XV

Date: 29 September 2015

Stourbridge Preston vs. Grasshoppers – Kick Off 3.00pm

Hoppers travel to old rivals Stourbridge this coming Saturday, for the first of two consecutive away fixtures in the Midlands after playing their first four games against Cheshire opponents. They will be desperate to both overturn a recent bad run of results against the Stourton Park outfit and put the injury time bad memories from last Saturday behind them to kick start their season with a much-needed victory.

The point gained last week actually moved Hoppers up a couple of places in the League Table, but with the season only in its infancy everything is still very tight with probably many ups and downs still to come for everyone.

Our opponents have also had a mixed start to their season, losing in their last home fixture to Hoppers last gasp winners Caldy before recovering with a good win at Harrogate’s new abode last week. The home side won their opening fixture of the season in a tight tussle with Macclesfield before losing at newcomers Sandal, something all their opponents have suffered so far this season. Stourbridge have had a massive recruitment drive and re-organisation over the summer both on and off the field, so it may well be that it’s taking time for the side to gel together and deliver consistency.

Meetings between Hoppers and Stourbridge go back to the 24th of November 1973 in our very first season at Lightfoot Green. Hoppers ran out narrow winners that day by six points to three, before the return fixture at Stourton two seasons later when the home side recorded a comfortable victory.

The next meeting was the day after the annual Fylde Boxing Day match in 1986, the season before leagues were formed and both Hoppers and Stourbridge started their respective journey into league rugby together at level 4 in what was then titled the Courage Area League (North).

The two clubs had stayed partners at this level until Hoppers promotion, a season when Stourbridge together with New Brighton and Kendal (who were promoted the following season) were Hoppers main challengers throughout, with a January twenty-five points to ten victory at Stourton Park probably being the deciding factor.

Stourbridge finally gained promotion to what was then National 2 a couple of seasons later in what was to prove Hoppers final season at that level and until relegation four seasons ago, the Midlands outfit had maintained Level 3 status.

The all time playing record between next week’s opponents has Stourbridge having won sixteen matches to Hoppers eleven and the league record tells a similar story with ten victories to Hoppers and thirteen to Stourbridge. The overall record includes a forty four points to nineteen Powergen Cup victory to Stourbridge during the 1995/6 season at Lightfoot Green, which until a couple of seasons ago was their biggest winning margin over Hoppers whilst a thirty two points to three victory in their promotion season was the Hoppers best effort.

Photograph by kind permission of Mike Craig – Jack Walker is congratulated after scoring his first try for Hoppers last week against Caldy.

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