BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Waterloo

 

by PETER WOODROOFE


MOSELEY v Waterloo  - National League Division 1,

Saturday, January 6, 2007, k.o. 3.00 pm (but come for lunch!)

After the game at Billesley between these two famous old clubs last January the Birmingham Post was moved to report: “This was an occasion to evoke memories of a bygone age. Two famous old clubs playing for high stakes, with frenzied disregard for personal safety and in the process watched by a large and partisan crowd”. This Saturday sees a welcome return of this traditional fixture and the prospect of a similarly entertaining encounter.

Similar Histories
The history of both clubs, Moseley founded in 1873, Waterloo in 1882, is similar.
Both are clubs with great traditions that obliged them to compete in the mad world of professionalism with disastrous results. But it was those traditions that have provided the basis and the will to survive.

Grooming stars
Both clubs started the Courage Clubs Championship in the top Division in 1987-88. Waterloo lasted two seasons before relegation to Division Two and Moseley lasted four. Waterloo then spent twelve seasons at the second level before relegation to National Two. During that period PAUL GRAYSON, AUSTIN HEALEY and BEN KAY represented the club before achieving international honours elsewhere.

Booster
Moseley gave the Club’s supporters a welcome Christmas present by defeating Coventry 15-13 in a typically closely contested local derby on 16th December and then produced a New Year gift of the highest order in the first away win of the season at Old Deer Park last Saturday defeating London Welsh 13-6 and moving out of the relegation places.

Waterloo had lost to London Welsh 24-19 (when the Welsh achieved a first home win of the season on 16th December), lost at Sedgley Park 37-18 and last Saturday lost 0-44 to high-flyers Doncaster. So at the end of the holiday period, Waterloo sits bottom of National One with 10 points, London Welsh is on 21 points, Moseley 22 and Otley 24. London Welsh plays Otley at home on Saturday.

Big scalps
Waterloo’s two wins have been at home against Cornish Pirates 19-16 and away against Exeter Chiefs 22-13, two notable successes. But they have yielded 726 points, the highest in the Division, and scored 281, four points above Otley and only nine points below Moseley’s total.

Coach change
Waterloo lost coach PHIL WINSTANLY who had seen them through last season’s promotion. He was replaced by Australian MICK MELROSE, who played 10 years in the Sydney competition and was Head Coach of Manley for two years.
He also coached the Gentlemen of Aspen in the USA Super League.

New arrivals
Melrose has signed new players, such as full-back / centre PETER MURCHIE from Bath, Australian full-back PETER LOADER, centre ANDER MONRO and lock SIMON CROSS from Edinburgh, scrum-half CHAD ERSKINE in the USA World Cup squad and centre ADAM SLICZNI, who is back at the club.

Also, loyal clubman DAVID BLYTHE is welcomed back to the club after being released. He has made 232 appearances for the club, the most appearances by a forward for Waterloo.

Stalwarts
Still with the club is TONY HANDLEY, 232 appearances, 910 points up to the end of last season (1993-2006). Other experienced players include the captain FREEMAN PAYNE, a fine player whose attacking instincts have been curbed as defence has been the priority of necessity, winger NEIL KERFOOT, utility back JOHN BROXSON, prop MARTIN O’KEEFE, who is at Liverpool John Moores University, and lock NIJKE TCHAKOUTE. With such players in their ranks you wonder why they are where they are, but they have been handicapped by many injuries and it is difficult to escape from a losing spiral.

Family ties
Last, but not least, it should be mentioned that Moseley club President Derek Nutt will have divided loyalties on Saturday as his son will be playing for Waterloo! STEPHEN played through all Moseley’s mini and junior sides and has represented North Midlands Colts. He was Moseley’s leading points scorer in National One in 2002-3 and was Waterloo’s leading points scorer in National Two in 2004-5.

Battle royal
And so it will be another enthralling game at Billesley on Saturday. Moseley’s confidence will be on the up, though CHRIS HALL’S broken leg sustained at Old Deer Park was a real downer. However, in difficult conditions, the Moseley players did not let it affect them, as Chris would have wanted, such is the togetherness of the squad, and it was fellow hooker DEAN BICK who scored the only try of the match. And no yellow card fever!

One to savour
We warmly welcome all our friends, members and supporters from Waterloo and our own faithful at Saturday and hope everyone enjoys the game, the first of 2007 and the start of a nail-biting set of challenges.
 

 

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