by Joe Heaton

MOSELEY v  Nottingham - Saturday, October 11th, k. o. 3pm (but come for lunch!)

The City of Nottingham, in the East Midlands, traditionally has been renowned for the beauty of its girls and the notion that there are many more of them than boys! It originally grew as the lace making centre of the UK but now has a much more diversified economy. The city itself has a population of 285,000.

The city’s rugby club was founded in 1874 by a Rugby School boy, Alick Birkin, during his holidays and the Birkin family was then associated with the club from 1877 to 1956. Nottingham Rugby Club’s traditional ground at Ireland Avenue, Beeston, was donated to the club in 1904 by Leslie Birkin, brother of Alick and Ireland Avenue remained the club's home until its sale in 2006.

Over the last one hundred and thirty four years, Nottingham has earned itself the well deserved reputation of being a solid, dependable and hospitable club, which is a pleasure to visit but difficult to beat.

In the modern era there have been notable contribution’s to successive England XV’s; Dusty Hare, Gary Rees, Rob Andrew, Brian Moore and Chris Oti spring to mind. The club’s most notable player, however, was Simon Hodgkinson, who between 1981-98 made 318 appearances and scored 2,778 points.

For so long in the shadow of East Midlands rivals Leicester, Nottingham recently had a “financing restructuring” and converted from a members’ club into a limited liability company, raising funds in the process. 1st XV games are now played at Meadow Lane stadium, the home of Notts County Football Club, although the whole club operates out of a new more extensive rugby facility in Lady Bay, West Brigdeford. The ambition to move centre stage is also testified by the very recent recruitment of Robbie Harris, a 115kg prop from the South African club Natal Sharks, who should be playing against Moseley.

In the last three seasons Nottingham's consistent performances in National League One have been reflected in final league positions of seventh, ninth and a well deserved third. Last season, whilst Moseley beat Nottingham away 28-21 in the first match of the campaign, the tables were turned in the return match at Billesley Common in December when the visitors gained a 27-36 victory.

The club’s Director of Rugby is the highly regarded former Coventry lock Glenn Delaney, who has retained most of the squad which served him so well in 2007-08. So far this season Nottingham’s record shows five wins with only one loss in gaining four bonus points and a current equal second place in the nascent National League One. Last Saturday Doncaster Knights were beaten by 18 – 9 at Meadow Lane

On the other hand there have been worrying signs of inconsistency in Moseley’s performances, not least in losing 47 - 23 at Rotherham last Saturday. To have won three and lost three matches, and earned three bonus points, is a reasonable haul so far this season, but it could easily have been better. Few at Billesley doubt the team’s ability to play attractive attacking rugby, but all too often the players lose the plot and allow the opposition to dominate.

Injuries and niggles are beginning to take their toll, so we can expect some changes for Saturday’s match. Thankfully, Moseley’s squad is stronger than for many seasons and there are several players in the squad of considerable potential, who have yet to make their home debut.

It should be a good game. Nottingham will be viewing this game as an opportunity to keep pace with the league leaders while the Moseley players will be buoyed by the return of their talismanic captain Neil Mason and be motivated to show that last week’s performance at Rotherham was an aberration.

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