by Joe Heaton

Plymouth Albion v Moseley, at Brickfields , National League Division 1,
Saturday, 18th Oct 2008, k.o. 3.00 pm

For more than seven hundred years Plymouth’s fortunes have been linked to the sea.
Here began the voyages of the great Elizabethan sailors, Raleigh, Frobisher and Sir Francis Drake, who defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth in 1620, as did the explorer and map maker James Cook in 1772. In the Second World War the Naval Dockyard at Devonport was the largest dockyard in Great Britain.

Plymouth Albion Rugby Club was formed in 1876 by a group of apprentices from the dockyard. Rather than take the name ‘Devonport’, such was their enthusiasm and confidence that they called themselves ‘Plymouth’ and added ‘Albion’ to emphasise British patriotism in this predominantly naval area. Plymouth’s supporters rouse their teams to action with the ‘Plymouth Drum’.

The club’s current ambition was made clear by the move in 2003 into Brickfields Stadium (capacity 8,400) at Brickfields Recreation Ground, back to their Devonport roots after eighty-four years at Beacon Park.

The Albion gained promotion to National League One at the end of the 2001-02 season and in the first season there, a ninth position was obtained. Since then and up to 2006-07 the club has never finished less than sixth although last season fell back to eighth. Such an impressive string of results could only have been achieved by a full-time professional team backed by strong support. Home gates regularly exceed three thousand, with well over five thousand for games against the Cornish Pirates.

In the close season, however, Graham Dawe, Plymouth’s Director of Rugby, lost several key players, notably his free scoring French winger Nic Sestaret, to Exeter, and questions were asked about the potential for the present campaign. Last season, in November 2007, Moseley lost to the Albion 10-29 at home but in April this year had a notable away win at Brickfields, 16-13. Last Saturday Plymouth lost at home to Exeter 14-41 and consequently occupy tenth place in National League One on 15pts, two places below Moseley.

The middle positions of the league are very congested at present. Rotherham and Moseley are on sixteen points although it has been reported that the Titans have had four points deducted for fielding an unregistered player and, if so, will drop down to twelve, below Cornish Pirates and Plymouth Albion both on fifteen points. Any points against these sides will therefore have a major impact on all our relative league positions.

The result of the game will depend in many ways on how well Moseley can overcome the disappointment of losing to Nottingham at Billesley so late in the game, after a much improved performance. It is a long coach drive down to Plymouth, which unfortunately provides too much time to reflect on what might have been.

Plymouth Albion - Ground guide


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