by Joe Heaton

Sedgley Park v Moseley, at Park Lane, Whitefield, Manchester, National League Division 1, Saturday, Nov 8th 2008, k.o. 2.30 pm

Few, other than those who have followed Moseley to Park Lane, are quite sure where Sedgley Park is located. In fact, the club is in a north Manchester suburb just off the A56 to Bury.

Sedgley Park, known as the Tigers, is the youngest National League One Club, if the amalgamated Cornish Pirates are excepted. It was founded in 1932 at a meeting of friends in a temperance bar in George Street, Sedgley Park, when a decision was made to form a club to play a different code of rugby to that prevalent in the North. Rugby Union games were initially played in a farmer’s field in Whitfield and were subsequently moved to several other locations in the area before settling in Park Lane, which now has a declared capacity of over 3000 spectators.

‘Park’ began League rugby in North West Two and steadily climbed up the league structure to reach National League Two in 2001-02. They finished 3rd and 6th in this league before winning promotion to National League One. Notwithstanding some alarms along the way, Park initially consolidated their place in the lower reaches of the league, coming 10th, 13th and successive seasons. Last season, however, they finished in 14th place, three points above the relegated Pertemps Bees.

The Tigers, however, could not celebrate their survival in April. Pertemps resurrected a claim against First Division Rugby to the RFU that they should be rewarded the match points in a home game they lost to Cornish Pirates on 5th January 2008. The issue rested on two uncontested scrums, but the Bees lost their appeal on the 23rd June and their relegation was confirmed, leaving Sedgley Park to ‘prop up’ National League One.

Sedgley Park’s Director of Rugby, Tim Fourie, survived the traumas of the spring and early summer to recruit five new contracted players and five more on loan from Leeds Carnegie and Sale. He remains heavily dependent, however, on Phil Jones (his stand off half) who, last season, was the fourth highest points scorer in National League One with 225 points. This was a remarkable achievement from a struggling club.
So far this season after 10 games Sedgley Park are in their ‘familiar’ 13th place in the League One table with 10 points - three places below Moseley with 21 points. Of more concern to them, not withstanding the eventual decision or otherwise on the format of next year’s second tier, is that they are only two points above the bottom clubs, Otley and Manchester. The results of the Tigers’ last three games were:

November 1st: Plymouth 31- 7 Sedgley Park
October 25th: Sedgley Park 3-41 Doncaster
October 18th: Bedford 53-7 Sedgley Park

Moseley will travel up the M6, flushed with their victory over Esher at Billesley last Saturday. It is hoped that they also will have thought long and hard about the bonus point they gave away by not scoring at least two more tries by spilling the ball close to the try line. If Moseley are to rise into the top half of the league, they have to learn to take their chances under pressure.

The re-appearance last Saturday of Ollie Thomas, if only as a late second half substitute, gave both the team and the excellent crowd a big boost. He looked very sharp and it will be interesting to see where Ian Smith deploys his considerable rugby talents in future.

There is a feeling abroad that Moseley are on the verge of becoming a very good and exciting semi professional side. All that is needed is more discipline, greater steadiness when faced with try scoring opportunities, and to guard against break-aways when well forward in attack.
Moseley will see this match as an opportunity to win away from home. No match, however is won until the final whistle and they must avoid complacency.

We wish them well.

Visiting Fans Meal - Calling Mose visiting supporters. “If you are following Moseley to Sedgley Park to cheer them on against the Tigers then why not arrive a little earlier and enjoy a mouth-watering pre-game luncheon in our popular conference suite overlooking the first team pitch. Sample our warm Lancashire hospitality while enjoying a wholesome meal, priced just £15.

For more information and to book contact Geoff Roberts on 07793 184 818.”

Admission prices:
Adult Matchday Admission: £12.00
OAP Matchday Admission: £5.00
Under 16 Matchday Admission: Free


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