Local pride at stake as neighbours meet in cup
The Scottow faithful will be bracing themselves for an influx of Holt supporters tomorrow when their neighbours arrive determined to get behind their side in the local derby clash with the Vikings in the Woodfordes Norfolk Cup (3pm).
The last time the sides met in the competition was back in the 2002-03 season when Walsham, then in the National Leagues, had the luxury of being able to put out a largely second string side and still won comparatively easily.
There will be no such luxury this time as while the Vikings have been on the slide, Holt have been moving up the scale and, having been promoted last season, are sitting top of their division with an unbeaten record.
There have long been links between the two clubs, mainly through their farming members, and although there have not been too many cases of players moving from one club to the other that has changed in recent times. At least four of the Holt side are likely to have connections with the Vikings as skipper Karl Rumsby, Ian Young, Matt Jarry-Ryan and Jason Childs have all turned out in Walsham colours in the past. Childs in fact played for Walsham on that last occasion
In an effort to capitalise on recent improved performances Nick Greenhall will try to play as many members of the sides that produced a win and draw on successive Saturdays. He will however be without hooker Mark McCall who is away, full-back Charlie Lockhart, (hamstring injury) and centre Will Hodgson (dislocated elbow).
He should however welcome back Henry Dewing, who missed out last week and should renew his partnership with Dean Blyth, who is enjoying his belated entry into the Vikings side.
Holt no doubt go into this one as the underdogs but with the Vikings near the bottom of London IN and Holt top of London 3NE the game might be a lot closer than league status suggests.
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'The club is in good shape at the minute and it must be said we really are enjoying our Golden Jubilee year,' said Holt chairman Richard Seaman. 'A lot of people will be at Scottow on Saturday to see the game and I'm sure win, lose or draw a good day will be had by all attending.'
Holt will be glad that prop Chris Hill is fit again after coming through the full 80 minutes last Saturday. Also in the backrow Ash Woods is back on form along with Sammy Wright, both putting in excellent performances in the win against East London.
Coaches Ed Steed and Penny Chapman have a headache though and it comes with the decision of where to play the in-form Graham Ilsley, their leading try scorer.
He has performed equally as well in the backrow as he has at centre and it will be interesting to see where he appears against North Walsham.
Another conundrum surrounds try machine winger Richard Justice and where he will fit into the side. The big wingman will be vying for a start along with Jary-Ryan and the pacey Stu Robson, unless Steed and Chapman have another role for him.
'We know quite a bit about North Walsham as they do us and the game will live up to its billing,' said Chapman.
'We have played really well this year and this distraction from the league is good for us and local rugby and is a spectacle everyone is looking forward too.'
In the other quarter-final being played tomorrow Diss play host West Norfolk from the Eastern Counties League (2pm). Coach Phil Sharpe will be using the fixture to give some of his young players the chance to show what they can do.
Should Walsham and Diss progress, the draw will keep both teams apart until the final, and both would have home advantage in the semi-finals.
Beccles will take on Norwich on February 11 but as yet no date has been announced for the fourth game of the round between Wymondham and Lowestoft & Yarmouth.