26/04/24 | 1st Team

Saturday 27th April – 1st XV Away to Wharfedale

Author: John Case


On Saturday Lymm travel to Wharfedale for the final match of the league season.  Since the clubs’ first meeting in the 1974/5 season, visits to the Wharfedale ground, situated in the Yorkshire Dales AONB and recently voted amongst the most picturesque in the country, have always been looked forward to by Lymm players and supporters alike.  The combination of location, warm Yorkshire hospitality, great supporters and outstanding beer has certainly proved to be an enduring and winning combination!

That first match, when the club was known as Upper Wharfedale, resulted in a 22-12 win for the Yorkshireman, and was the start of a regular series of matches between the two clubs over many seasons.  These games were generally closely fought, albeit Wharfedale certainly had the upper hand in respect of results.  Lymm and Wharfedale played a winner takes all game in 1990/91 with Wharfedale prevailing to earn promotion narrowly ahead of their Cheshire rivals. Lymm then gained promotion the following season and the last match in this sequence was played at Lymm in 1992/3, with the home side winning 13-6.  However, this victory wasn’t enough for Lymm to stave off relegation and so a 31-year barren period of fixtures between the clubs began, a period during which Wharfedale reached the National 1 league.

Over those years, the matches had produced more than the odd amusing incident such as when Don Brow (in the days before SatNav) forgot to exit the M62 and ended up in Hull; or when Lymm’s No8 Steve Ashall, emerging bloodied from the bottom of a ruck, was asked by the amusingly named Yorkshire referee, I Cheetham, if he was alright.  After observations about his marital, financial and employment problems Steve did, in fact, confirm that he was physically alright.

With Lymm’s promotion to National 2, the rivalry resumed at Beechwood in early September with another closely fought encounter, decided by the odd point in 43 in Wharfedale’s favour.  I think it’s far to say that both teams on the day showed some “ring rustiness” with a higher than usual error count, not untypical of the opening match of the season.  It was still a thriller, described by some as a match Lymm could have won but Wharfedale should have won – which they indeed did with a last minute converted try.

The last visit by a Lymm team to Wharfedale was in 2016, when the clubs’ Senior Colts teams met in the Cock o’ the North Cup Final.  On this occasion, Lymm ran out comfortable winners in a match that would mark Alex Mitchell’s final appearance in a Lymm shirt, before commencing his professional rugby career with Northampton Saints.  Rob Makin, from Lymm’s current squad also featured in that fixture.  Wharfedale too have had many notable players over the years, none more than their current President, John Spencer, who represented both England and the British Lions, and more recently enjoyed a stint as RFU President.

Saturday’s fixture marks the last matches for experienced Lymm players Gav Woods, Jordan Widdrington and James Kimber.  We wish them all well and the best of luck on what is sure to be an emotional occasion.

All that remains to be said is that we all hope that the match provides a fitting end to a great season and that the rugby and weather gods smile down on us.

Andy Leach & Mal Pritchard



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