BIG MATCH PREVIEW -
by Joe Heaton
Rather confusingly Manchester Rugby Club’s ground and headquarters, Grove Park in Cheadle Hulme, is neither in Manchester nor in the Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester. Rather, it is in Cheshire, along with its relatively near 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 isolation.
Manchester started the present decade in National League One, having been promoted to the then Premiership 2 for the 1999-2000 season. The club was relegated to National League Two at the end of season 2003-04 but regained its 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, a legend in his playing days at Grove Park. Last season he also recruited a Fitness & Conditioning Coach, Scott Pearson, and negotiated the use of Sale Shark’s all weather and floodlit training facility at Carrington.
Results in Manchester’s last three games are:
28th November Nottingham 57 v Manchester 8 L
22nd November Manchester 14 v Otley 15 L
15th November Manchester 14 v London Welsh 19 L
The present relative positions of the two teams in National League One are:
P. W….D….L….BP P….Pos
Manchester 14 0 0 14 6 6 16th (of 16)
Moseley 14 5 0 11 8 28 11th
Manchester elected to re-enter National League One with essentially the same squad which delivered promotion last season and it is clear that the club is now struggling to make an impact in National League One. This could appear to have been a miscalculation however it is more likely to be reflective of financial constraints as Manchester is reputed to have the lowest playing budget in National League One.
Moseley will start this game after finishing the most demanding stretch of fixtures of the season, i.e. Doncaster (L), Leeds Carnegie (L) and Bedford (L), from which, sequence, however, two bonus points were earned.
The home match against Manchester could provide the Moseley players with the best opportunity of the whole season for earning five points and consolidating a hold on the vital eleventh place in National League One.
The enemies are complacency and the understandable relaxation of playing in a game potentially less pressurised than usual. That would be folly and it is up to Ian Smith and his coaches to dissuade the players from any such notions.
Congratulations to our mascots for
the day, 8 year old Joseph Humphries is a member of the Moseley Junior and
Mini section, and three year old Alfie Sly attends the breakfast club at his
school, that is supervised by Moseley lock Paul Arnold.
A warm welcome to The Lord Bishop of
Birmingham, the Rt. Revd David Urquhart, who is an ex-officio
Vice-President of Moseley Rugby Club, will be paying his first visit to
Billesley on 6th December to watch the match against Manchester as the guest
of Joe Heaton and Joe Jordan.
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