At this last league game of 2021, there should be memories of a whole year of games. There aren’t, of course, because of…well, we all know why.
We are fortunate to have had a very promising half-season behind us. Great credit to all behind the scenes at Sedgley for keeping the club going, for keeping the players and even improving the squad, and for the various ground and clubhouse improvements during our enforced rest from the game. My particular thanks go to the players of the 1st XV for the quality of entertainment, and for their obvious pride in wearing the jersey. Guts, as well as flair.
The league is beginning to take shape, with the top five pulling away, and Fylde indeed just about hanging on in that five. There are some tough battles to come (we hope, and no return to lock-down) and every game is a potential banana skin.
I thought it would be interesting to produce a top five table, just the games between those clubs. The one between Stourbridge and Rotherham was postponed.
P W D L TB LB Pts
Hull 4 2 0 2 1 2 11
Sedge 4 1 1 2 2 2 11
Roth 3 2 1 0 0 0 10
Stour 3 2 0 1 1 1 10
Fylde 4 1 0 3 0 0 4
Fylde’s defeat at Luctonians is the only instance of a top five club losing to one outside the group…so far! There will be more, of that I am certain. It is a tough old league, and a good league.
What of the future? Will this excellent and enjoyable season continue? Or will we, once again, enter the depressing cycle of lock-downs and TV rugby only? Grateful as we were to the professionals of the Premiership and Six Nations, nothing equals being there. Being here.
Given that the league season does continue, there are unresolved questions regarding promotion and relegation, and next season’s structure. We know we can get promoted, as usual, if we’re good enough, and we’re fairly sure of the clubs we would encounter in National One, though there are vacancies – but how many? – at the level above that.
Should we avoid promotion, we will find ourselves in a northern league of 14 clubs which, presumably will not include some (or all) of Stourbridge, Loughborough Students, Bournville or Luctonians.
Currently top of the North Premier League are Otley, who are runaway leaders, followed by Billingham, Preston Grasshoppers and Blackburn. Some of these will feature next season.
Bottom of that league are Northwich. Some of us will remember them as Mid Cheshire College, way back in the early days of the Courage Leagues. We had some damn good games against them, back then. A good place to visit. Northwich have lost all 13 of their games so far, at least one of which they failed to honour. They are averaging 65 points per match, against. It must be a nightmare to play, and inevitably there will be those who pack in, making it even worse for the remainder. You would rather go shopping than lose 65-7 every week. We remember Peterborough and South Leicester. Westcliff, too, are having similar problems in Nat 2S. Feel pity. There is no law which says this could never happen to us.
If there isn’t a mechanism by which a club can take voluntary relegation, perhaps two or three levels, there should be.
All the best for the New Year.