Wirral Preview

Date: 13 December 2017

Preston Grasshoppers break new ground once again this Saturday when they make the short journey across the river Mersey to play Cheshire side Wirral who started Hoppers season on the AGP for the second game of the season.

Words by Mike Forshaw, photo by Mike Craig

Much fancied for one of the top places before the season started, Wirral haven’t yet found the consistency required to join the front runners but with only half the season completed a return to the form they showed last term could propel them from their current mid table position to join the leading pack.

The Cheshire side currently sit in sixth place, twenty one points behind ourselves with a game in hand and ten points clear of seventh placed Rossendale who have played a game less than Wirral.

After suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Hull at the Ferens Ground, our hosts have won their last  three games which included a comfortable win over Kendal at Mint Bridge. Wirral will be defending a ten match unbeaten home record this Saturday which includes a Cheshire Cup victory over Lymm who just happen to be the last team to beat Wirral at the Memorial Ground, back in March last season.

In the game at Lightfoot Green back in early September Hoppers finished comfortable winners after the visitors had opened the scoring with an early converted try and a couple more mid-way through the second period.

Looking back to last week’s game against an in-form Billingham, Hoppers produced a very competent performance pulling away after the first half an hour when the visitors defence began to creak finishing the game strongly as they have done for the vast majority this season.

This week’s opponents Wirral were founded in 1936 with Old Boy’s from Wirral Grammar School and once the RFU league structure was formed they gradually elevated themselves to Level  5 of the pyramid which is the peak of their League achievements to date. As mentioned previously, the two clubs had never met at 1st XV level until this season.

The 1869 Club are running a supporters coach to Wirral and are taking the home Club’s offer of a £20 Special Festive 3-Course Lunch with all the trimmings including pigs in blankets and Chef Rob’s famous Stilton mash and roasties. Also included is a top class Comedian, admission to the game and a programme. Departing at 10:45 the coach fare will be the usual £15 and £5 for accompanied children with the return journey to Preston departing about one hour after the final whistle.

Also planned is another ‘Two Coach Quiz’ on the outward journey between the supporters and team coaches. The ‘1869’ers’ inflicted the first defeat of the season for the ‘1st XV’ on the way to Morley in the inaugural match, so make sure you have a clear head and sharpened memory to maintain our winning run!



After making his debut off the bench at Morley a couple of weeks ago, Ryan Purcell trumped that last week in scoring his maiden try for Hoppers against Billingham, once again coming on as a replacement. Ally Murray’s try in the same game was his twentieth for the First Fifteen giving him a century of points and there was more to celebrate later for the versatile back five player when he was awarded the Club Senior Player of the Month Award in the Dooley Suite. Congratulations to the pair.

The victory last week over Billingham clocked up another Club League Record. A ten match winning sequence in league games hasn’t been matched since our last visit to this league back in the 2004/5 season, which in itself duplicated the first ever feat back in the promotion season from National 2 North in 1998/9.

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