12/01/24 | Matchday Programme
A belated Happy New Year to you all. Once again, it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you to Beechwood for our 15th league fixture of the season. I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to our visitors today, Rotherham Titans.
Prior to our meeting earlier this season, Lymm and Titans had only previously played one league fixture, in 1989. Titans subsequently achieved multiple promotions and their meteoric rise ultimately culminated in two spells in the English Premiership in 2000/01 and 2003/04. In the last two seasons Titans have plied their trade in National League 2 North finishing 3rd in 2021/22 and 4th in 2022/23.
Notwithstanding the lack of game time between Lymm and Titans, there are links between the two clubs, with Lymm’s David Strettle, James Mitchell and current Head Coach, Andy Davies all having played for the South Yorkshire outfit. It is interesting that Titans have claimed Stret as ‘one of our own’. In March 2011, he was included by their fans in Titans’ greatest ever team, but we all know that he is a Lymm lad!
When we played Titans in September, we lost 33 -10. It speaks volumes for this Lymm team that 3 consecutive defeats at the start of the season did not diminish their belief that they could complete at this level and, with an ’80-minute game’ and better game management, could win. So it was that we started to ‘join the Level 4 rugby dots’ and defeated Tynedale and Fylde in our next two fixtures. Lymm ended the year in fine form, beating Preston Grasshoppers and Huddersfield and drawing against Billingham, which (in truth) is a game we should have won. So where does that leave us? Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher probably hit the nail in the head when over the Christmas break he said “There is still a big job to be done – but so far, it’s been a very encouraging start at this level. This is a community-based, family-oriented club and the encouragement we receive from the supporters, volunteers and officials at the club has been outstanding”.
There is a serious issue that I want to raise that needs to be addressed by all clubs at all levels – match official abuse (MOA). Regrettably, 49% of officials interviewed by the RFU recently said they had been subject to MOA in the last season. Indeed, it will not have escaped your attention that both Wayne Barnes and Tom Foley, have decided to call it a day after receiving death threats following their parts in officiating at the 2023 Rugby World Cup final. The issue is of such concern that both Cheshire RFU and the RFU have recently increased the MOA sanctions to deter those who feel it is acceptable to disrespect or abuse a match official. It is incumbent upon all of us involved in the game (at whatever level) to do everything we can to prevent MOA. Please remember that match officials are, like us, volunteers who give up their free time to ensure others can play the game and they should be accorded the appropriate respect at all times.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the passing of JPR Williams, who left us on 8 January 2024. There are no more famous set of initials in global rugby than ‘JPR’. As you will have seen, many tributes have been paid to JPR since his passing but my favourite to date is from legendary Welsh rugby coach Carwyn James, who said he was “A forest animal … blessed with a sixth sense for the presence of danger, an element which he often sought and loved. Fearless. Uncompromising. The competitor of competitors”. RIP JPR Williams – legend.
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
James Kimber reaches 100
Saturday’s match against Rotherham at Crouchley Lane (KO 3:00) will mark Lymm centre James Kimber’s 100th First XV appearance for the club. in doing so, he will become the 21st Lymm player to have achieved this milestone playing at Level 5 and above.
James, first came to Lymm as a 6-year old (the first image below shows him as an 8-year old, proudly sporting Lymm colours) and as an 18 year-old he was a key member of the all conquering, undefeated Lymm Senior Colts team (the second image shows James in action in the Cock o’ the North Cup Final against Doncaster).
Having made his first appearance for Lymm First XV as an 18 year old, it was from the 2016-17 season that James cemented his position in the senior squad and is now a clear leader within the playing group.