BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Pertemps Bees

by PETER WOODROOFE -

MOSELEY v PERTEMPS BEES, National League Division 1, at Billesley, Saturday, September 30, 2006 , KO 3pm (but come for lunch )

Moseley Rugby Club faces its second local derby in successive weeks when Pertemps Bees visit Billesley for the first time, for a National Division 1 match.

Sad sequence
After six attempts, Moseley has yet to defeat Bees in a League match – the nearest result being the 20-20 draw at Sharman’s Cross Road on December 16, 2000.

Name changes
Pertemps Bees is the branded name of Birmingham and Solihull who amalgamated two seasons after the commencement of League rugby, the Courage Clubs Championship, in 1987-88.

Birmingham - early days
Birmingham RUFC was founded in 1911 at a time when a group of villages came together to form the City of Birmingham .

The club was one of the founder members of the North Midlands Football Union when it was formed in 1920 and an official, S. LAWRENCE, was Birmingham ’s delegate at a meeting at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on January 134, 1920, where the Union was set up.

Moseley’s representative was the legendary FRED BYRNE who was elected a Vice-President and who was to become President of the NFU, 1921-1929.

J.W. BIRTLES of the Birmingham club, who also played for Moseley, was a Vice-President of the Union during Byrne’s Presidency.

First Union game
The first match under the auspices of the new Union was between the combined Old Edwardians team and the Rest of the Union team in which Birmingham players, full-back R.F. BROMBERG, winger H BURROWS, fly-half A.R. TAYLOR and props A.C. MITCHELL and L.M. ABBOTT played.

The Old Edwardian clubs won 16-13 and 16 of the players taking part in the Trial subsequently appeared for the North Midlands in the County championship, including Birmingham’s Taylor and Mitchell, and Abbott, who went on to join Moseley – as several players did, including BARRIE and TREVOR CORLESS in the 1970s.

Solihull – a plea…
The writer is not conversant with the early history of Solihull RUFC. Is there anyone out there who can fill in the gap?

The club was founded in 1933 and several players found their way from there to Moseley, including the England international wing MARTIN HALE, who played in England ’s first-ever win against South Africa in 1969 and scored 155 tries in five-and-a-half seasons of senior rugby.

Another Moseley connection is ANDY SMALLWOOD, who is the grandson of one of Moseley’s most accomplished Honorary Secretaries, Charles Smallwood, who held that office from season 1967-8, before becoming President in 1978-80. ANDY, a fine winger of B&S and Coventry is currently Treasurer of Solihull RUFC.

Tough League start
At the commencement of the Courage Clubs championship in 1987-88, Birmingham RFC was placed in National Division 3 and Solihull in Area League North.

Both clubs found the going hard, Birmingham finishing bottom, drawing just one game, one point with 11 points for turning up.

Solihull also finished bottom of their League, losing all their 10 games, no points in that League for playing the fixture!

In the following season, Birmingham again failed to win, or even draw, a game in Area League North and Solihull finished 9th out of 11 in Midlands One.

Togetherness…
So with both clubs in Midlands One, they amalgamated in 1989, playing at their present ground at Sharman’s Cross Road rather than at Portway, where Birmingham played. Birmingham and Solihull finished second, winning promotion to National Division 4 North.

However, in their first season in the National League, B&S were relegated to Midlands One, but after two difficult seasons, they returned to Division 5 North and finished 2nd in the following season in the re-organised Div 4 North, where they again finished 2nd. Yet another League re-organisation promoted them to Jewson One in 1997-8 and in 1999-2000, they finished 2nd to win promotion to National One.

Player exchange
During their rise to National One, they signed players from local clubs, including JONATHAN SMART and MATT BIRCH from Moseley.

Smart was their leading points scorer in 1996-7 with 271 and in 1999-2000 in their promotion year from Jewson One with 166. Fly-half MATT BIRCH was their leading points scorer in 1997-8 with 296, a promotion season, still a club League record total in a season. JONATHAN SMART still holds the club career record, 529 points, 1996-2000.

Still going strong
B&S have been in National One for six seasons, their highest position being 4th in 2003-4. Former Moseley players GEOFF GREGORY, TERRY SIGLEY, JIM THORP, who came through Moseley’s youth development system, ALAN HUBBLEDAY, MATT LONG, NEIL FLETCHER and ED ORGEE (Capt) played a significant part in that successful season.

It was then that B&S took the branded name Pertemps Bees, to acknowledge the sponsorship of Pertemps Employment Alliance and its Chairman TIM WATTS, a former Solihull player and – another Moseley link – one of the business men who took over Moseley in 1996 to compete in the first season of legitimate professionalism.

League encounters
The two clubs first met each other in League rugby on November 25, 2000 at Bou7rnbrook, B&S winning 14-13. The return game at Sharman’s Cross Road was drawn 20-20. In both games, it was the Moseley backs versus the B&S forwards. In 2001-2, B&S did the double, 15-6 and 14-10, typically hard fought local derbies.

But, in 2002-3, Moseley’s relegation season, the B&S wins were, to put it mildly, more emphatic, 68-14 and 55-0 at Bournbrook, in which game B&S fielded six ex-Moseley players in their squad.

Shrewd acquisitions
Pertemps Bees’ have proved themselves masters at picking up influential players and some shrewd acquisitions during the close season and the release of some former stalwarts have completely transformed the club’s playing squad and its fortunes. After last season’s disappointment of finishing bottom of National One, because of many injuries in a small squad that necessitated the fielding of unregistered players (with the permission of the RFU, but with the docking of points) Saturday’s squad is likely to include only centre ADAM BILLIG, signed from Bristol, former Moseley prop MATT LONG, WILL MATTHEWS, England Sevens flanker on loan from Gloucester, and full-back DAVID KNIGHT, over 100 appearances, left from last season.

The link-up with Premiership Gloucester has quickly borne fruit with Matthews being joined by the former Moseley and B&S prop TERRY SIGLEY, returning on loan, full-back JON GOODRIDGE, fly-half BRAD DAVIES and flanker DAN TOUHY, also on loan.

The captain if the former Gloucester lock MARK CORNWELL. Other newcomers this season include Fijian Sevens flanker AKAPUSI OERA, scorer of five tries to date, Canadian prop CASEY DUNNING from Pacific Pride, HOTILA ASI from North Otago, lock MARK GABEY from Worcester and Exeter, and hooker STEWARD PEARKL, from Plymouth Albion.

In the backs, newcomers include centre TRISTAN DAVIES and winger MATTHEW NUTHALL from Cardiff Blues, scrum-halves REECE SPEE, from Ulster, MIKE BAXTER from Bath and fly-half JOHN HIGGINS from Coventry.

Robust start
The new squad with a new Head Coach, the former Wales and Neath lock STEVE WILLIAMS working with MAYNARD, have won two, drawn one and lost one game to date, scoring 118 points, with 102 against. To add to OERA’S five tries, winger MATT NUTTALL has scored two tries and nine players have scored one try apiece. JOHN HIGGINS has kicked 27 points and NUTHALL nine.

Harsh on Mose…
Moseley’s one-point defeat at Coventry was unfortunate, as they could have made the game safe in the first half, such was their superiority, but in National One chances cannot be spurned. Their defence was much tighter, however.

Bees’ close call…
Conversely, Bees has a one-point victory at Sedgley Park , who have yet to win a game.

Brotherly Love?
Brothers could play against each other on Saturday. DAVID KNIGHT could be at full-back or on the wing for Pertemps Bees, while scrum-half PAUL has moved to Moseley this season after making over 100 League appearances for the Bees. Unfortunately, TERRY SIGLEY has received an injury, so he may not be fit to pack down for the Bees against his brother ROB.

Tough call
The signs are it’s going to be a hard-fought local derby at Billesley on Saturday, with plenty of excitement. If any incentive were needed, Moseley have the opportunity to register their first National League One win against the Bees, which would please their supporters no end.

Let’s hope for good weather conditions with the usual camaraderie associated with our sport in the clubhouse and hospitality boxes before and after the game.


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