01/12/23 | General

Presidents Welcome – Saturday 2nd December 2023 – 1st XV v PGH is ON. KO 2pm

Author: Varun Maharaj

Once again, it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you to Beechwood for our 12th league fixture of the season. I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to our visitors (and old friends) today, Preston Grasshoppers.

As you will be aware, there has been some serious head scratching going on this season to work out when we last played some of the teams in this League e.g. Tynedale in 1985, Rotherham in 1989 and Sheffield in 2016 – once every Preston Guild* you might say. It is not without irony, therefore, that the team in National League 2 North that we are most familiar with is … Preston.

*Preston related fact of the day – The Preston Guild celebrations first came about in 1179 after King Henry II awarded Preston its first royal charter along with the right to have a Guild Merchant but it was only from 1542 that the Preston Guild took place every 20 years. Although “once every Preston Guild“ is a common Lancashire expression, one of the earliest published uses of the phrase was in The Clarion on 23 January 1892: “I think—that a little novelty in our pantomimes would not detrimentally affect the British Constitution … we might perhaps begin now (say at the rate of one every Preston Guild) to introduce two or three new ideas into our pantomimes” – but more of pantomimes later !

Back to rugby – I think that the first meeting between Lymm and Hoppers was in 1983.  Lymm won that game 20-15 but lost the ‘return’ fixture in 1997, 39-17.  However, the connection extends beyond the 1st team fixtures and we have played each other at all levels, from Mini & Juniors, through to our Colts, 2nd and 3rd teams and (when I still turned out!!) our Vets for many years.  Our 1st teams last met in the 2021-2022 season, when Hoppers won at Lymm 36-41 and away 66-14. Before that it was the 2017-18 season, when (again) Hoppers beat us at home 32-39 and away 19-13.

I think that it’s fair to say that neither Lymm nor Hoppers are where they would like to be in the League with Hoppers two places above us. Hoppers victories have all come away from home and although I am not superstitious, hopefully (fingers crossed) that is not ominous for Lymm.

Our last home fixture was against Leeds Tykes who left Beechwood with all five league points secured to maintain their unbeaten run this season, which continued last Saturday when they beat Rotherham 26-20 and remain top of the league going into this weekend’s fixtures.  While Leeds were entertaining Rotherham Titans, Lymm travelled to Sheffield Tigers. Although we lost 47-35, it was a thoroughly entertaining game (which is more than you can say for Sale Sharks’ last home fixture against Bath!) and another one which arguably we let slip through our fingers.  That view was echoed by Adam Fletcher’s post-match analysis: “Another frustrating result.  I thought that for 60 minutes we were outstanding. We have to quickly learn how to close games out, as we have found ourselves in this situation on a number of occasions but have ended up losing

Finally as mentioned (albeit obliquely) above, the Panto season is with us again – oh yes it is – which is now in its 36th year. At the time of writing, I believe that the only date on which tickets remain available for “Alice in WonderLymm” is Thursday 7th December 2023 so if you haven’t got your tickets yet, buy them online now! It goes without saying that the year on year commitment shown by the Panto cast and crew deserve our support and thanks.

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


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