26/01/24 | Matchday Programme
As ever, it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you to Beechwood for our 17th league fixture of the season – it seems like only yesterday that I was writing the 1st ‘Welcome’ of the season before setting off on my annual pilgrimage to Notting Hill Carnival! As they say, “time flies; the older you get, the faster it goes…”. I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to our visitors today, Fylde RFC.
Fylde Rugby Club was founded on 25 July 1919, when a group of Huddersfield businessmen met at Ansdell Institute to discuss the formation of either a rugby union or a football club. A coin was tossed and it fell in favour of rugby union. Fylde grew steadily following its formation and has been in the National Leagues since their inception in 1987. Recent seasons have seen Fylde move between National Division One, National Division Two and more recently National Division Three North (from which the club gained promotion during the 2010–11 season). The club ran up significant debts in trying to compete in National One from 1997 to 1999 and had to sell a small portion of their Woodlands’ grounds in order to re-establish financial health. Fylde finished 2nd behind Sedgley Park in National League 2 North last year, having played in that league since the 2018-19 season.
Fylde’s two most famous players are home grown, Malcolm Phillips and Bill Beaumont. Malcolm won 25 England caps at centre between 1958 and 1964 and was President of the RFU from 2004 to 2005. Bill Beaumont joined Fylde as a 17-year-old in 1969 (his first game was in the sixth team as fullback!) and stayed with the club until injury forced him to retire in 1982. Other famous Fylde old boys include Roger Uttley, Brian Ashton and, of course, our very own Mark Hesketh!
When Lymm played Fylde in September, in truth, I don’t think anyone saw us coming away with much from our first ever National league trip to The Woodlands although the week before we had recorded our 1st victory of the season against Tynedale and Fylde had lost to Wharfedale (27-26). But strange things happen in sport. We were winning 7 – 12 with 78 minutes played but it looked like Lymm hearts had been broken, when Fylde were awarded a 7-point penalty try and took the lead, 14 – 12. With just the last play to negotiate, Fylde thought they had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat but from the resultant kick-off, we were awarded a lineout on their 22, from which Tom Shard dropped into the pocket and kicked a magnificent drop goal (à la Johnny Wilkinson) to steal the win for Lymm, 14-15. I will remember that moment for a long time.
Anyway, that was then and this is now – Fylde currently lie in 4th place in the league and until they lost at home to Wharfedale last weekend (7-24) were on a 5-match unbeaten run. Lymm sit in 9th place having lost 36– 18 at Tynedale last Saturday, and 22–36 at home to Rotherham the week before. I don’t think that we should be too downhearted about either of those results – we were playing 2 very good (if in Rotherham’s case, if one dimensional) teams, In fact, Tynedale’s President said after the game that he didn’t think many teams they have played at home this season could have dealt with Tynedale as well as Lymm did when Tynedale ‘clicked’ after the half time break.
As some of you may know, today’s pre-match meal is a Ladies Lunch and I would like to express huge thanks to Colette, John and Aimee Cartwright for arranging what should be a splendid event. Thanks also go to E Smith & Son (The Nursery, 54 Booth’s Lane, Lymm) who have very kindly sponsored the table decorations and Bird & Bay gift shop (5 The Cross, Lymm) who have sponsored gift bags for table favours.
Finally, as many of you will be aware, we lost a much-loved member on 14 January 2024, Liam O’Callaghan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jaye, Tom, Beth and the rest of Liam’s family. There will be a minutes applause in memory of Liam prior to kick off.
All that leaves me to say is that I wish both teams today the best of luck and look forward to meeting you pitch-side and afterwards in the bar for some warm Lymm hospitality.
Varun Maharaj, President
A Lymm and Fylde perspective by Mark ‘Hesky’ Hesketh
Today we are welcoming Fylde RUFC to Lymm for the first time at 1st team level. I played for Fylde from 1976 to about 1993, a total of 17 years. By then the sport was becoming professional and I was transferred to Lymm for the hefty sum of a ‘part in the Lymm Panto’. I have now been a member at Lymm for 30 years (only 7 of which were playing years) but still feel uniquely placed to compare my experiences at both clubs.
So how shall I compare thee (certainly not to a summers day if recent weather is anything to go by).
So how to compare two clubs, one in sandy Lytham St Annes (actually Ansdell) desperately trying to convince people they are not in Blackpool and the other in a leafy village desperately trying to convince people they are not in Warrington.
Both clubs in my experience exhibited, and hopefully continue to exhibit the basic prerequisites for a genuine rugby union experience. These being, not necessarily in this order,:
- Playing rugby to as high a standard as you can whether that is Vets through to 1st team (and of course both clubs have helped players to achieve international caps)
- Pre/post-match changing room banter which as retired players we spend a lot of time trying to recreate.
- Post match drinking; in fact just drinking. One wouldn’t want to say that it is impossible to enjoy the total rugby experience without drink, but I personally think it just makes it harder (counter intuitive or what?).
- Acceptance of anyone and everyone who wants to play our game.
In my opinion both clubs scored highly in these areas and continue to do so, and I am not saying either is better than the other (to avoid fighting).
As an aside there is also pre-match drinking, which both clubs missed out on. Orrell and Lancashire players often had a glass of sherry pre-match, and Thornton Cleveleys 2nd team a pint of Guinness in the Gardeners Arms was favoured; Mr Borthwick could learn things methinks.
Differences from my playing days
As an official Old Git I am of course certainly completely out of touch with the modern player but watching the games and the drinking (sorry to mention drinking again) in the bar afterwards the current crop seem to be enjoying the game at least as much as we did back in the day.
There are certainly fewer of them playing which means less teams. This is a problem nationally of course but in 1976 Fylde could turn out 5 teams and a Wednesday team (I am honoured to say I played in all of them). Lymm have turned out 7 teams in the past. Who can say that now?
Leagues were introduced in the late 80’s and early 90’s just as I was at the end of my playing career at Fylde. Previously you could play who you liked when you liked (subject to the persuasiveness of your Fixtures Secretary) and there were Merit Tables. But even before Merit Tables everyone seemed to know who the current best teams were and fixtures were tweaked each season to be against similar standard opposition. However, I am not sure that leagues are a massive issue, particularly as having done a limited survey of current players they seem in general to like them and they do provide a level of excitement and intrigue as the season progresses especially for these at the top and the bottom.
In my view the number of fixtures is the main difference between now and then (whenever then was). In my first season at Fylde we had 43 fixtures. There was only one home and away fixture (Liverpool) so 42 different clubs were played. Of course, the game was less physical then and we were certainly not as fit as the players playing today.
There are advantages of such long fixture lists, lots of different beers to sample and towns to visit, and as they say “variety is the spice of life”. In addition, at least 20 home games meaning ££££££££ over the bar.
I have none. I cannot put a cigarette paper between the two clubs in terms of the players and the fun they have playing our game. I don’t know the answer to declining senior playing numbers, when both clubs have massive mini/junior sections. You can debate that in the bar and may the best team win.
Mark Hesketh (Hesky)