Fylde tread new ground on Saturday when they open their 2019-20 league season making the long trip to newly promoted Scunthorpe RUFC at their Heslam Park base. ‘The Greens’ were formed in 1929 so have a long history and have become the leading club in Lincolnshire. In the last decade they have competed almost wholly at levels five and six.
The Greens are a buoyant club which, like Fylde, runs four senior teams, a Colts squad, has a flourishing mini-junior setup, and they also have a women’s team. If that part of Lincolnshire isn’t generally thought of as a rugby stronghold, they are doing great work to maintain this level of participation and community engagement.
It’s interesting to note the rise of previously ‘junior’ clubs up the league structure. Scunthorpe doesn’t feature in Malcolm Crane’s epic ‘The Rugby Clubs of England’, “the first attempt to tell the stories of the ordinary clubs: big and small, rich and poor.” To illustrate the roller coaster of English rugby, in 2008-9 the Greens finished 3rd in Midlands Two (East), level 6, one place behind Ampthill who have stormed up the divisions and are now in the Championship!
The Greens were champions of Midlands Two (East) the following season in 2009-10 and progressed to the Midlands Premier division where they fought six campaigns which ended in 2015-16 when they finished top of the tree and were elevated to National Two (North), their highest ever ranking.
However, this proved a tough challenge for the Greens and they were relegated in 2016-17. Back in Midlands Premier, they regrouped, finished 4th in 2017-18 and last season shaded Luctonians to finish Champions of the division. They’ll be hoping to have a longer stay this time.
Their Head Coach is the experienced Tim Robinson and last season’s captain was the influential Tom Foster. They have traditionally fielded a very strong pack and Fylde will have to respond to this challenge if they wish to take league points back to Lancashire.
Fylde have selected from a strong base of players only hampered by recent injuries to Olli Parkinson and Cameron Crampton. Player-coach Chris Briers had recent knee surgery and will be out of action for some while.
They will be heartened by their display against Hull Ionians last Saturday at the Woodlands but not in any way complacent as they face another long, 30 match National League season.
The squad for Saturday is:
15 Tom Carleton; 14 Lex Botha, 13 Connor Wilkinson, 12 Scott Rawlings, 11 Tom Grimes; 10 Greg Smith, 9 Adam Lanigan; 1 Elliot Horner, 2 Ben Gregory, 3 Adam Lewis (c), 4 Nick Ashcroft, 5 Jacob Conner, 6 Hal Chapman, 7 Ben O’Ryan, 8 David Fairbrother.
16 Alex Loney, 17 Ben Vernon, 18 Matt Garrod, 19 George Brookes, 20 Jonny Wild.