This weekend we visit Broughton Park in Manchester.
The champions of South Lancashire/Cheshire 1 lost 4 of their first 6 games in North One West, and by Christmas had won 7 and lost 7. Since Christmas, however, “Park” have adapted and were unbeaten in the New Year until a fortnight ago when they lost away to Birkenhead Park. They are currently 6th, having won 12 of their 22 games. Uniquely, this season, they boast two draws in their record, in consecutive January matches against Carlisle and Manchester. Notable doubles over De La Salle and Douglas have seen them secure their future in North One West.
Last season, Broughton Park and Anselmians both won 20 games out of 24, but the former were deserved champions, opening a nine point gap, largely by their hugh haul of 22 bonus points. In order to qualify for a play-off place, we simply had to beat the champions-elect and we did, 13-8, in the penultimate game at Malone Field.
Earlier that season we had lost at Houghend Crescent, 19-35.
Broughton Park were promoted to North One West in 2012-13 (as we were being relegated from the higher division) and had two successful terms, finishing 6th in consecutive seasons. However, in 2015-16, they were relegated to South Lancashire/Cheshire 1. In 2016-17, they finished third before being promoted at their second attempt last season.
Saints lost home and away in 2016-17, but the last time the sides met in North One West, in 2011-12, we won at Malone Field in November 2011, 25-17, and lost away, 16-10.
The fact that two of the three promoted sides will be relegated is testimony to the difference in levels 6 and 7. Broughton Park, after a shaky first few months, have earned the right to remain in North One West and all Anselmians will applaud that.