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News 2011-12

Preview to Fylde (h) 28.04.12 (1)

26/04/2012

Come Fylde with me, let's Fylde let's Fylde away
If you can use some exotic booze
There's some bars in far Jersey
Come on and Fylde with me, let's Fylde, let's Fylde
away

The long-awaited final chapter of the National One season is
upon us, and Ol' Blue Eyes hit the nail on the head, except perhaps
for the subsequent line that 'Weather-wise it's such a lovely day'.
There's even some 'exotic booze' for the occasion - see 'And
Finally.'

Some of those who are attending were hoping this might be a
promotion play-off with both teams vying for the title, but
Jersey's ability to piece together lengthy winning streaks (22 of
their last 23 outings) has seen them pull clear, winning the title
and promotion (woo-hoo!) while Fylde's inconsistency has seen the
Lancastrians rack up 10 defeats thus far.

Perhaps it's a War of the Roses thing, but Fylde seem to be
having a tilt at Wharfedale's crown of bringing the most supporters
to Jersey, helped by having had 11 months' notice since the draft
fixtures for this season were distributed at about 5.30pm on May
28th last year, while Jersey's players were still in the shower
after their play-off success over Loughborough.

The travelling hordes - just over 200 is the record to beat -
will be meeting in one of St Helier's finest ale houses on Friday,
although it is also one of the smallest, so could be almost as
crowded as the JRFC ground at St Peter on Saturday, where the
highest crowd of the season, 3,648 against Rosslyn Park, should be
beaten unless the weather intervenes.

Fylde will have some luminaries in their party, including club
stalwart, former England and Lions' captain and IRB grand
fromage
Bill Beaumont, who will present the National One
trophy to Jersey after the game. This alone should act as
motivation for both teams - Jersey determined to collect the spoils
on a winning note in front of their home fans, but the visitors
striving to show their credentials and register a unique double
over Jersey in the Islanders' brief National League journey thus
far.

Also in the touring masses will be another former England man,
the classy, gliding centre with 25 caps in the 1960s, Malcolm
Phillips, who was President of the RFU in 2004/05. Chairman Michael
Brennand, is marking his last game in the hot-seat after a sterling
stint in spearheading the rising fortunes of one of the North's
leading clubs. Coaching consultant Brian Ashton isn't normally seen
on away trips, so may be missing - if so he must have a very
tempting alternative engagement.

Jersey's retaliation for the above big swingers are set to
include golfer Ian Woosnam, who joined the celebrations when the
team arrived back from Coventry last Sunday, Formula One's Derek
Warwick, ex Lieutenant Governor of Jersey Sir Michael Wilkes and
former heavyweight boxer Billy Walker. Ex-Scotland international
Cameron Mather is doing a stint in the sponsors' tent, and I see
Bath are without a game this weekend, so perhaps 'Banners' will be
over too?

It's a 3pm kick-off at St Peter, and all spectators are urged to
turn up in good time.

News from the Jersey camp
It's not exactly been a normal past two weeks, but Director of
Rugby Ben Harvey managed to get his side to focus on getting the
job done at Coventry last weekend and will be aiming to do the same
against Fylde.

With that in mind, and no significant changes to the bulletins
from the medical room, the squad is little changed. There is no
place for dual-registered Leicester Tigers flanker Jethro Rawling,
with a start at flanker set to go to the man who replaced him at
half-time against Coventry, Charlie Clyde-Smith, who has played
most of his rugby at hooker this season. CCC's place on the bench
is likely to pass to winger Ed Dawson, leaving the Islanders with a
3:2 forwards/ backs split among the reserves.

Any previous? A long, long, time ago...
Fylde 29 Jersey 27

The August Bank Holiday saw Jersey lose their first game in
National One, which was also the first defeat of any kind since the
previous November (at Southend, since you ask).

In a portent of what wasn't to come, Jersey scored first through
debutant Ross Broadfoot, but were on the back foot for the
remainder of the first half, trailing 24-8 at the break after Mike
Waywell and Nick Royle (2) crossed for the hosts.

The second-half recovery began through a Nick Trower try but was
then halted when Steve Depledge crossed for Fylde's bonus-point try
(29-15). But a solo effort from Donovan Sanders reduced the arrears
and when Guy Thompson clinched Jersey's first bonus point (of 2)
with his first try of a productive campaign, the Islanders were
just a kick away from a draw or win. However Fylde hung on and the
bragging rights between the two promoted clubs went to the northern
corner.

Fylde in 2011/12
Newly-promoted, Fylde got off to a flyer in Nat 1 and not just on
opening day - five straight wins was an impressive statement.

The first signs of temporary difficulty were evident
in October with a hat-trick of defeats by Blaydon, Barking (by
31-18 at the Woodlands with 14 men, how does that happen?!) and
Cambridge, and although the ship was righted, the run-up of games
to Christmas featured three further defeats, to Rosslyn Park,
Wharfedale and Ealing. The Trailfinders game at Vallis Way was a
cracker - Fylde trailed 28-8 at the break, but Ealing scored just
three points after that, a Ben Ward penalty that went in off the
post. Just as well too,as the visitors had stormed back into
contention and collected two BPs in losing 31-29.

A pair of wins to start January meant Fylde remained in
contention for the league titles, but such ambitions were shot down
when both Blaydon and Barking completed the double over them.

More recently, Fylde have continued to show the potential to
dismantle teams from the top 6 (Macclesfield by 48-23 and Rosslyn
Park by 44-24 being two examples) but also suffered a 39-26 loss at
Cov and were unseated by the form team of the latter stages,
Blackheath (59-22), the 10th defeat of the campaign.

Last weekend the two highest try-scorers in National 1 met at
the Woodlands, so the law of sod dictated that there's only be two
tries in the first half, Ealing leading Fylde 7-5. But the
Londoners were then rocked by a burst of scoring - a Josh Beaumont
try, a Nick Royle interception for his second try of the day, and
seven points from the boot of Richard Kenyon. From 22-7 enough,
Fylde would have expected to close out victory, but in fact a
hat-trick by the relatively unsung Owen Bruynseels (just 20 tries
this season against 41 by the record-breaking Phil Chesters)
brought them back into it, and if Ward had landed a conversion from
three tricky attempts they may even have won. As it was, Ealing
took three points to cement the runners-up spot in National
One.

Fylde still lead Ealing in the try-scoring stakes, by 135-134.
Approaching two-thirds of this haul comes from a dangerous set of
backs who on their day can tear apart most sides. Their encounter
with a Jersey defence that has conceded only 12 points a game, the
lowest in the National Leagues, will play a significant part in
deciding the result.

Top of the charts in terms of tries is winger Oli Brennand who
has 27 to date, to the approval of his Chairman/ Father, and is
three ahead of England sevens speedster Nick Royle, likely to be on
the opposite wing this Saturday. Chris Briers, who joined from
Doncaster last summer (having also played for Sale, Orrell,
Rotherham and Sedgley Park) has scored 15 tries - and plays
alongside his brother Steve, who is partnered in the centre by
Waywell, one of many England Counties players.

The half-backs are Kenyon, who has kicked 140 points this
season, and scrum-half Martin Wallwork, who is also the Club
Secretary. Although Jersey had a groundsman in the 1st XV until his
untimely injury, it is rare, possibly unique for an honorary
official to turn out in his club's 1st XV at this level. Jersey's
Ben Harvey faced calls to retaliate this week and select Wallwork's
Jersey counterpart William Church for an end-of-season cameo, but
this campaign seems unlikely to bear fruit.

A bit like Jersey's backs, the Fylde pack get less of the credit
but have been pivotal in their team's impressive season. Two
members with Championship experience, prop Alistair Livesey and
lock Gareth Rawlings, will miss the trip to Jersey, but that still
leaves an experienced core, notably lock Paul Arnold, who has
formerly played at Caldy, Moseley, Nottingham, Sedgley and Orrell.
Arnold currently holds the National League Record for most tries
scored by a forward (27 for Caldy in 09/10 - currently under threat
from Blackheath's Dave Allen who has 25). Arnold will be joined by
Sam Beaumont in the engine room - the captain has played in every
game and only missed around 100 minutes of rugby following
substation.

Hooker Johnny Roddam is one of the few squad members who has
played for a club south of the Pennines - albeit that his
season-and-a-half stint with Harlequins finished a decade ago,
having included a full 80 minutes for Quins in Heineken Cup match
against Munster at Thomond Park.

Fylde's back-row will see Evan Stewart, formerly with
Macclesfield and a prominent try-scorer (20 last season and 16
in this one so far), join forces with another Beaumont, Josh
(there's a third son, Dan, who plays in the 2nd XV), and Steve
McGinnis. The bench isn't too shoddy, especially at the back-end of
the season - all five selected players have appeared at least 20
times for Fylde in 2011/12.

Fylde's coach is the combative red-head Mark Nelson, said to
rival Macc's Geoff Wappett as the loudest in the league, who has
worked alongside Brian Ashton and others to inspire some
scintillating rugby by his team.

Fylde History
A colourful and eventful story began in 1919, with the toss of a
coin among some Manchester businessmen to determine whether they
would found a football or rugby club. The flip went rugby's way,
and within a year the club were playing on the site of their
current ground, the Woodlands.

The club merged with Blackpool Old Boys in the 1930s and
successfully re-established itself after the war as a pre-eminent
Lancashire club. The ground was purchased, the clubhouse extended
and in 1970 the North West Counties played the Fijian Tourists at
the Woodlands and attracted a record gate of 7,600.

Fylde's league history ranges between levels two and four of the
English pyramid, with a stint at level two ending in 1999 with
relegation and some significant financial losses, with the books
balanced be selling a small portion of the ground. This money was
not wasted and although there was a further relegation to level
four in 2003, a splendid new clubhouse was opened two years
later.

After some solid top-half finishes in the northern half of level
four, 9th spot in 2009/10 was the club's lowest ranking, but they
recovered to win National Two North last season by 14 points from
Loughborough.

Famous sons (no, not Bill's)
Bill Beaumont was just too big a star to leave until this stage of
the preview, so his name was blurted out excitedly in the intro
along with Malcolm Phillips. But did you know that he was the
longest-ever serving captain on Question of Sport, that his father
played for Fylde, and that his penultimate game for England
coincided with the legendary streak by Erica Roe, sparking the
alleged comment by Steve Smith that "some bird's just run on with
your bum on her chest Bill!"

But there are several other 'names' who deserve a mention,
starting in the 1920s with 'Pop' Ogden, who was classed as the
greatest kicker of his time, and was the originator of the 'round
the corner' style of kicking now used by more or less all kickers
worldwide.

In the same era as Bill Beaumont, a young Roger Uttley,
subsequently skipper and then manager of England, and Brian Ashton,
also wore the claret and gold. Other more recent internationals
associated with Fylde include England wingers Tony Swift and Simon
Smith, who were capped in the 1980s after leaving the Club, and
locks Steve Bainbridge and Wade Dooley, established internationals
who won further caps whilst with Fylde.

England 'A' winger Mark Preston, who subsequently starred for
Wigan RL, had an amazing strike record scoring 98 tries in 131
appearances. But this achievement has been smashed by current
wingers Royle and Brennand who both have reached the 'try per
league game' benchmark.

Last season former England winger Jason Robinson was lured out
of retirement to play in home games for Fylde. He made 13
appearances, helped achieve some hefty crowds (including 2,415 for
his debut), and made many more tries than the four he actually
scored.

Rivals' round-up
Although Jersey made it over the line last Saturday, there'll still
plenty of interest to see what happens elsewhere in National One.
Ealing are sure to finish second, and anything other than a big win
over the Bees seems unlikely. Blackheath have 10 straight bonus
point wins but won't be offered any favours by visitors Rosslyn
Park who have slipped well out of contention since coming to Jersey
as league leaders in January.

The division will also bid farewell to Stourbridge, Bees and
Barking this Saturday, amid wishes of all the best. Interestingly
the survival mark in Nat 1, which was 63 points in 2010/11, will be
no higher than 50 this time around.

Loughborough are already assured of entering Nat 1 from N2N,
alongside either Old Albanians or Richmond. OAs need a single bonus
point from a trip to Launceston to seal the deal and leave Richmond
hosting Caldy in next week's play-off.

The Premiership relegation 'decider' between Wasps and Newcastle
is not until next weekend, which is also when the Championship
play-offs begin - Bristol v Cornish Pirates and Bedford v London
Welsh. The complex rules about ground eligibility mean Bristol are
the only team who can actually be promoted - should they fail, both
Wasps and Newcastle would survive (notwithstanding the former's
financial problems).

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Fylde through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's Sportscene from 6- 7pm on
Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online
and on your transistor-wireless device
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more rugby in Saturday's
Inside Centre pull-out and a special souvenir supplement,
and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
forum
• Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle on
Saturday, plus updates during the match
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online, and on
BBC TV Channel Islands at 6.30pm on Monday
Fylde's website is well worth a look including a preview from their
perspective and lots of info including an extended history.

And Finally?
Even many Lancastrians do not know the origination of the word
'Fylde'. In fact, it dates back to Saxon times and means 'low lying
ground between two Estuaries!' It is also the word that has been
mis-spelt the most times ever in the history of the Jersey Evening
Post.

The exotic booze referred to at the top of this
stream-of-consciousness has been specially made by the Liberation
Brewery. Champions' Ale is a 4.4% ABV moreish golden ale with
pronounced maltiness balanced by a light hop finish, and will be
available in the Barclays Pavilion at the club on Saturday, as well
as at selected Liberation hostelries, including Ben Harvey's
local!

All the best to Jersey United Banks who play the Hampshire Plate
final against Southampton University on Sunday, and to Jersey Colts
whose final league game, at home to Tottonians, is the warm-up on
Saturday.

This won't be the last preview of 2011/12, but it's the last one
on the national stage. It's been a new development this season,
inspired by the efforts of, among others, Sedgley Park, Blackheath,
Rosslyn Park and Fylde, and as well as being one of life's more
enjoyable chores it's been great to get the occasional bit of
positive feedback. Ay-thang-kyow!

Enjoy your weekend's rugby, and your summer
Tom Innes

Pack Up, Let's Fylde Away!

 

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