by Joe Heaton

Manchester v Moseley, at Grove Park , National League Division 1,
Saturday, April 25th 2009


‘After the Lord Mayor’s Banquet…’ There are few more difficult things to do than to adjust immediately to the harsh reality of life after celebrating a great achievement. This, however, is just what the Moseley players have to do on Saturday against Manchester, when the stakes are high.

The club is still threatened by a failure to qualify for the proposed new Championship, should it finish twelfth or below in the present National League One. While a five point win against Manchester coupled with a “no point” loss by Esher away at Bedford would guarantee qualification, to be absolutely safe three wins from the last four matches against Manchester away (25.04.), Plymouth home (29.04.), London Welsh away (02.05.) and finally Otley away (09.05.), could be needed. Bearing in mind that Moseley’s record reads only two matches won away from home this season so far, this is by no means a foregone conclusion.

The results of Manchester’s last three Division 1 matches are:

11th April Manchester 23 v Nottingham 49
8th April Manchester 0 v Leeds 104
4th April Otley 29 v Manchester 18

It may be interesting to note that when Manchester plays Moseley on 25th April, the Mancunians will not have played for a fortnight. On 18th April, the relative positions of Manchester & Moseley in League One were:

                 P. W. D. L. BP. P. Pos

Moseley      26 10 0 16 17 61 12th
Manchester 29 2 0 27 9 17 16th

While the Manchester players are staring relegation in the face, nevertheless, their will be sufficient to motivate them on Saturday, not the least of which will be the prospect of beating the new EdF Trophy holders.

Manchester’s ground and headquarters, Grove Park in Cheadle Hulme, is neither in Manchester itself, nor in the Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester. Rather, it is in Cheshire, along with its relatively near rugby neighbours, Sale Sharks. Grove Park is eight miles from the centre of Manchester.

Manchester Rugby Club was founded in 1860 as Manchester Football Club (in the same style as Moseley) but has always played rugby union. When the ‘Great Divide’ occurred in 1895, on formation of the Northern Rugby Union (later called the Rugby League), Manchester remained faithful to the RFU and did not follow clubs such as St Helens, Warrington, Widnes and nineteen other northern clubs into the other code.

Manchester started the present decade in National League One, after promotion from P2 in the 1999-2000 season. The club was relegated to N2 at the end of season 2003-04 but regained National League One status at the end of last season by finishing second, just ahead of Stourbridge.

The Club’s longstanding Director of Rugby is David Baldwin. In the close season he appointed an Assistant Coach, Steve Swindells, who was a legend in his playing days at Grove Park. Surprisingly Manchester elected to re-enter National League One with essentially the same squad that delivered promotion. With hindsight, this looks like an error of judgement, although it may have been due to the fact that Manchester is reputed to have the lowest playing budget in National League One.

Moseley should win this key match, after all, Leeds recently took no less than one hundred and four points out of Manchester and we beat Leeds last Saturday! But this is sport and unexpected upsets can occur especially with the aftermath of last week’s triumph. If the Moseley players go up the M6 in an all conquering, “we are the greatest” mood to show off the EdF Trophy, they will fall flat on their faces. Manchester will be desperate to save something from a wretched season and Moseley’s scalp would fit the bill nicely. Those supporters, who want the party to continue and can get up to Manchester, will be doing the club a great service to raise the players for this game.


Supporters coach is going to Manchester -

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