After a two week break to reflect on the disappointing performance at Dore Moor, Preston Grasshoppers host Midlands side and regular opponents Stourbridge this coming Saturday at Lightfoot Green.
By Mike Forshaw.
With the Stourbridge game being the first of three remaining home fixtures this season, Hoppers will be hoping to gain some respectability from these League Fixtures starting with a much needed victory over this weekend’s opponents.
After hovering around the top third of the table for most of the season without achieving the consistency to push them into contention for one of the promotion places, Stourbridge have fallen away dramatically over the last couple of months losing in all of there last six outings and will be travelling to the new look Lightfoot Green with the knowledge that they also lost here on there last visit.
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 the National 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 at the end of the season back in 2012, the Midlands outfit had maintained Level 3 status.
The all time playing record between next week’s opponents has Stourbridge having won seventeen matches to Hoppers thirteen and the League record tells a similar but rather closer story of twelve victories to Hoppers and fourteen 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.
Photo by Mike Craig.