BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Sedgley
by PETER WOODROOFE
The Moseley squad and travelling faithful travel to Park Lane, Whitefield, a suburb of Manchester, actually a few miles along the Bury New Road from Sedgley Park itself.
Sedgley Park is the youngest club in National One, (if the amalgamated clubs, Pertemps Bees, Leeds Tykes, and Cornish Pirates are excepted), as it was founded in 1932 after a meeting of friends in a temperance bar in George Street, Sedgley Park. The club started playing in a farmer’s field at Whitefield then moved to several sites in the area before settling at Park Lane which now has a capacity of 2,500 of which 350 is seated.
Park Lane is an appropriate name as it is in one of the most expensive areas of Manchester. The suburb lies in what were the grounds of Sedgley House – hence the club taking the name of Sedgley Park, rather than Whitefield. However the club now promotes itself as Sedgley Tigers in line with a requisite image in the professional era.
Five Barred Gate and Three-bar clubhouse
“Tigers” ground is bounded at its southern end by a five-barred gate which leads on to a driveway to Phillips Park and Local Nature Reserve. One could say ‘unfortunately’ the M62 goes right through the Reserve! On the east side there is a grandstand and at the northern end is located a large clubhouse from which the club’s splendid hospitality exudes. It is a two-storey structure with an extension built some twelve years ago.
It has three upstairs bars, one in a function room and one in a room in the middle, which has sliding doors which open out on to a balcony, a vantage point for watching the game. Then there is a tea-bar between this bar and the club shop. The third bar is the FRANK HARDMAN Lounge, in memory of a late Lancashire RFU President. The memorabilia includes memories of BOB KIMMINS, a former ‘Park’ captain who also played for England, Lancashire and Orrell.
Boards on the walls of the stairs record the history of the club with a memorial board commemorating the lives of six players who died in the Second World War. In short, Sedgley Park is a true traditional rugby club which reveres the past, appreciating its supporters and ambitions within their means.
The club has gradually climbed the League ladder after commencing League rugby in North West Two. North One was won with BOB KIMMINS as captain in 1996-7 and promotion followed to National Two in 2001-2 when the former Welsh international COLIN STEPHENS scored 235 points, and was top scorer in the following season in National Two scoring 244 points.
In National Two, Park finished third and sixth before winning promotion to National One in 2003-4, with South African RYND UECKERMANN top scorer with 177 points.
In the first season in National One, BLAIR FEENEY, a New Zealander, I believe, scored a club record of 253 points in a season, but then moved to Newbury where he scored 225 points last season.
Last season another prolific scorer was signed, fly-half PHIL JONES, ex-Orrell, where he scored a club career record of 687 points in two seasons, and ex-Leigh Rugby League. Last season he scored 219 points, including six tries.
Rise and sign…
Further signings have been made as the club climbed the League structure which included, New Zealander ROB MOON, who scored a club career record of 590 points, including 54 tries, also a club career record, 1998-2003, Welsh international COLIN STEPHENS, 467 points 200-2002, South African ARNO DE JAGER, 403 points to date from 2002-3, the aforementioned UECKERMANN and FEENEY, all prolific points scorers, and now PHIL JONES to maintain National One status after avoiding relegation last season through a League re-organisation. Park’s leading try scorer for the last two seasons, with thirteen and fifteen, is winger JON FEELEY, who has moved to Earth Titans with lock ERIK LUND.
Newcomers who have become 1st XV squad regulars this season include centre CHRIS BRIERS from Orrell, former Scottish international ANDY CRAIG, ex Leeds Tykes, full-back MATT RILEY, on loan from Sale, and, also on loan from Sale, second row SEAN COX, scrum-half CHRIS LECK, lock BEN LLOYD and prop ANDY HALSALL. Others include flanker ADAM NEWTON, ex-Sale, locks ED NORRIS from Doncaster, and JACO SWART, ex-Rossendale, and hooker JOHNNY RODDAM from Doncaster who has replaced RICHARD OXLEY who has moved to Plymouth Albion.
They join centre IAN VOORTMAN, over seventy 1st XV appearances, scrum-half JAMIE ALBINSON, winger/full-back CHRIS HALL, EX-League, experienced props PAUL GAZZOLA and PETRUS DU PLESSIS, No 8 JOHN SKURR (Capt), eight tries this season to date, flanker JAMES PONTON, who has Premiership experience with Leeds Tykes, and Fijian No 8 LEDUA JOPE. The Tigers’ Director of Coaching is player/coach South African TIM FOURIE.
The scoring records of Moseley’s OLLIE THOMAS and Park’s PHIL JONES this season makes interesting reading:
O Thomas: 199 points, 53.5% of total points scored
P Jones: 188 points, 48.5% of total points scored
Park has scored eight more tries than Moseley.
The Moseley – Park connection is Moseley’s newcomer this season, LOCK PAUL ARNOLD, who played for Park against Moseley in both games in 2003-4 before moving to Nottingham.
Moseley and Sedgley Park first met each other in 2003-4 when Park won at Bournbrook 23-16, mainly thanks to the efforts of ARNO DE JAGER, who scored a try, kicked two penalties and the winning try in injury time. The return game at Whitefield produced a fantastic performance by Moseley, winning 39-7. Park finished top of National Two, while Moseley finished fifth from bottom!
Moseley’s tries on a memorable occasion, made all the more enjoyable by the generosity of the Sedgley Park supporters, were scored by JAMES ASTON (2), ANDY GRAY, KEVIN WIRACHOWSKI, OLLIE THOMAS and ANDY BINNS, with THOMAS converting three and kicking a penalty. Flanker KERN YATES scored Park’s try converted by RYND UCKERMANN. In their desperate need for points, Moseley will have to repeat this performance on Saturday.
On the other hand, the Tigers have only two more home games after the Moseley game, against Newbury and Plymouth Albion, through the quirks of the fixture list because of cricket commitments, etc. and there will be a keenness to get points from home games. There are away games against Cornish Pirates, Earth Titans, Exeter Chiefs, London Welsh, the replaying of the abandoned game at Newbury, Nottingham and Waterloo. Four games have been won at home and with two away.. The games won at home were against Bedford, London Welsh, Nottingham and Waterloo, with away wins at Otley and Pertemps Bees.
The break from games last weekend should have helped any niggling injuries in the Moseley squad to clear up. The players must be up for it from the start though and improve on the showing at Newbury as the Tigers will not be easy meat proving resilient, streetwise and difficult to beat.
An intriguing game for supporters therefore is in store. For the Moseley faithful, let’s hope the Tigers’ hospitality off the pitch will continue on the field of play. Go there and enjoy! Your support is much valued.
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