Saturday 6 October 2012 – 3.00pm
Billesley Common, Birmingham
RFU Championship #6
It’s time to enjoy another benefit of being relegated when the Falcons travel to the Midlands to take on Moseley tomorrow.
I’ve always had a bit of a negative opinion about Birmingham… well, not a negative opinion, but just maybe felt a bit unfavourable about it. I think it’s due to it supposedly being England’s ‘second city’, when that title should clearly (well, I think anyway) belong to Manchester, somewhere I’ve lived before.
Apart from changing trains there (which I did a lot back in the days I used to travel to Somerset regularly), I’ve spent about six hours in Birmingham in my whole life, if that, but nothing particularly bad happened, so maybe I need to think again. I’m sure I will after tomorrow.
This is going to be our first visit to Moseley’s new ground Billesley Common, after they left The Reddings in 2000 and played at the University of Birmingham for several years. We did visit their old home a few times in the later decades of the last century, most recently in October 1996, when Rob Andrew’s side were in destructive mood and won 9-75 thanks to a hat-trick from John Bentley and further tries from Matt Tetlow (two), Tony Underwood, Gary Armstrong, Nick Popplewell, Ross Nesdale, Steve O’Neill and Dean Ryan.
Bentley also scored three in the return game at KP, as did Va’aiga Tuigamala, his first points for the Falcons.
Our most recent meeting with Moseley was our first match of this millennium, at KP in the Tetley’s Bitter Cup 4th round. Tuigamala also got a brace that day, as did Martin Shaw, and Nesdale was on the scoresheet again alongside Jamie Noon in a 41-8 win. Michael Stephenson made his Falcons debut as a replacement and Moseley’s try was scored by former Newcastle Gosforth prop Matt Long.
Falcons at Moseley:
26/02/1977 Club Match L0-15
26/02/1983 Club Match W15-9
13/02/1988 John Player Cup R4 L9-33
24/04/1993 Division 2 L16-19
18/03/1995 Division 2 L3-6
09/09/1995 Division 2 L0-9
19/10/1996 Division 2 W75-9
Moseley are perhaps unique (I haven’t looked into it closely) in rugby union in that their name was once loaned to Olympic silver-medallists – in 1900, the Great Britain team that competed in the Paris Olympics included four players from the club and was known as the Moseley Wanderers (or Mooseley as it was spelled on the official team sheet).
Their glory years came in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1972 and 1979 Moseley were runners-up in the English Cup, before sharing the trophy with Gloucester in 1982 after a draw.
Moseley began the league era in 1987 in the top division, and stayed their until relegation in 1991. They have gone down as far as the third tier and are currently in a fifth successive season in what we call the Championship.
Our hosts have not had a great start to the season, with just two wins from their five games leaving them third-from-bottom, above only Doncaster and Jersey, against whom one of those two victories came. Plymouth and Nottingham have both been successful at Billesley Common this season, but a week ago the Birmingham side pulled off a shock 21-22 win at Bristol thanks to a late penalty from winger Glynn Hughes.
Moseley’s squad does not contain many household names, though Ben Pienaar crossed the Midlands this summer from Leicester, where he spent six years, but the South African-born back-rower found his chances very restricted at Welford Road and made only 29 appearances for the Tigers.
Their coaching team does include two famous former internationals in Dave Hilton, a 42-cap Scotland prop, as player-forwards coach, and head coach Kevin Maggs, who won 70 caps for Ireland.
Will Welch is back to captain our team after injury, and Alex Tait and Jamie Helleur make their first starts of the season. Grant Shiells is rotated in for a bit of time on the pitch but James Hudson has to be content with a place on the bench as Carlo del Fava and Scott MacLeod start together for the first time. Michael Tait could get a rare first team game from the bench, where he sits alongside Jordi Pasqualin, once of our hosts.
Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Richard Mayhew, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 James Hall, 18 James Hudson, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 Michael Tait.
Moseley’s team is as follows: 15 Anthony Carter, 14 Simon Hunt, 13 Greg King, 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Oliver Thomas, 10 Brad Davies, 9 Sam Brown, 1 Chas Meddick, 2 Sam Wilkes, 3 Craig Voisey, 4 Addison Lockley, 5 Buster Lawrence, 6 Nigel Burrows, 7 Oliver Robinson, 8 Neil Mason. Replacements: 16 Dave Hilton, 17 Adam Caves, 18 Ben Pienaar, 19 Liam Mather, 20 Alex Day, 21 Anders Mogenson, 22 Brad Hunt.
Don’t forget, it’s all-pay-on-the-door at Billesley Common tomorrow, and with real ale knocking around for those who like that kind of drink, this promises to be a very enjoyable afternoon in Birmingham.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)