Fylde travel to one of their least popular venues on Saturday, Tynedale Park in Corbridge, when they will meet Tynedale in the opening match of the 2021-22 seadon (ko 14.00). ‘Least popular’, that is, in the sense of results over 18 years, not the splendour of the Northumberland club situated alongside the beautiful River Tyne. A round trip of 280 miles awaits the Lancastrians.
Since fixtures between the two clubs began in 2003 – initially in National Two, then National One, now back in N2N – Fylde have found it very difficult to win at Tynedale Park. In eleven fixtures there, the Lancastrians have won just three, although in the last campaign in 2019-20 they came out on top by 27-34. Fylde have been far more successful at the Woodlands, earning seven wins, a draw and suffering three defeats. Overall, Tynedale hold the bragging rights with 11 wins over Fylde’s 10, with one drawn.
Exceptionally, the 2019-20 season saw a Fylde double, with a decisive 50-10 victory at the Woodlands on top of the away win. However, Fylde will have to work very hard to earn the points in their opening National Two (North) game of the new season. The last competitive league game was on March 7th 2020, a matter of some 530 days ago so there is a degree of uncertainty throughout the National Leagues on the playing strength of the 48 clubs.
Tynedale earned promotion to National One in 2008/9, three seasons ahead of Fylde’s promotion year and, like Fylde, initially did extremely well, finishing in 4th, 5th and 5th again. Then, four seasons of struggling in the lower half of the table saw them eventually relegated at the end of 2014-15. This has been the fate of a number of Northern clubs including Hull Ionians, Macclesfield, Blaydon, Wharfedale and, of course, Fylde in 2017-18.
In the five seasons back in N2N, Tynedale have finished in 10th, 6th, 3rd, 5th and, last season, in 10th place.
Tynedale are a fine, proud club and, with a productive youth pipeline, will be trying to compete at the top of N2N in 21-22. They have had real difficulties in their beautiful location on the banks of the River Tyne with at least two instances of serious flooding which did damage not only to the pitches but also to the Clubhouse. However, their resilience has been superb and they’ve bounced back each time.
Other changes for Tynedale came with the departure in 2018 of established Director of Rugby, Scott Lawson, and the appointment of his successor in 2018, another well known former Newcastle Falcons star, Ben Woods. Like Fylde, they have a close relationship with their local Premiership club, in this case the Falcons, and some young players have been part of their squad on a dual registration (DR) basis in recent seasons.
Informed by the two useful pre-season games against Preston Grasshoppers and Sale FC, and their regular training sessions, Fylde are likely to name a handful of newcomers in their match day squad of 20. A few injuries will have to be taken into account and one or two players are unavailable for other reasons.
Photos by Chris Farr at Fylde v Tynedale game in February 2020.