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Preview: Captains XV v Presidents XV at Fort Matilda, Boxing Day KO 1pm

Greenock Wanderers host their annual Boxing Day extravaganza on Thursday when the Presidents XV and Captains XV go head to head for the Yorkshire Building Society Trophy.


The silverware was donated by Wanderers honorary member John Dyer who is a past captain and president of the club and he put the trophy up for annual competition when he was manager of the local branch of the Yorkshire Building Society back in 1995. The cup has been played for annually ever since and is much coveted by the respective teams not least of all because of the bragging rights that go along with it.


The fixture is a hearty perennial on the Wanderers calendar and attracts a large crowd of current and former players and members who meet up to celebrate the festive season holiday and commemorate what has been an exceptionally successful year for the club.


Traditionally the Presidents selection, resplendent in their customary all black shirts, comprise of a mixture of past, current and invited players with the Captains team bedecked in the red yellow and black hooped club colours consisting of current first team members.


Both sides will post squads of 23 players each with numerous youngsters getting the opportunity to play alongside some of the more experienced campaigners for the first time and stake a claim for a starting berth in the top team once the league resumes after the Christmas break.


The match is always played in fine spirit but there will be a serious side to this year’s fixture as the club management view it as being part of the build up to Wanderers vitally important Tennents National League Third Division game early in the New Year when they travel across the border to face current league leaders Berwick.


Captain Leigh Tyley will be keen to secure victory over president John Black’s side and ensure that confidence levels remain high ahead of the resumption of the league campaign.


The locals are certainly in the mix in terms of securing a potential promotion spot and a victory at Scremerston on January 11 will be a massive boost and aid their quest for a top two finish considerably.


Wanderers are currently in fourth position in the table primarily due to their last league fixture against Hillhead/Jordanhill being rained off last weekend.


The locals are capable of beating the middle and lower order teams and there is little doubt that the prizes will go to the two sides that come out on top in the key games between the championship contenders.


From Greenock’s perspective they have two home matches and one away fixture against those involved at the top with the away fixture at Berwick being first up.


The locals thereafter host Ardrossan Academicals and Howe of Fife at Fort Matilda on February 29 and March 21 respectively and these could well be the two key games that determine Greenock’s fate.


There is, of course, plenty of rugby to be played before then but if the Inverclyde men can hold their current form then they have every reason to be confident that come those dates in February and March they will still be masters of their own destiny and give themselves a great chance of back to back promotions


Vice-president Steven Haldane said, “Boxing Day is one of our annual highlights and the clubhouse is usually bursting at the seams with visitors and their guests who maybe only manage to drop by once a year if they happen to be home for the festive season holiday.”

“ It’s always great to catch up with friends and former members and the usual festivities will include food, drinks and the prize draw which is always drawn after the trophy is presented to the winning side and their captain makes a suitably patronising speech to the losers”


An added attraction and surprise bonus for the spectators on Thursday could well be the appearance of the highly successful ladies team who plan staging their own version of the fixture and starting their own tradition.


Arrangements are still being confirmed but it is hoped that captain Hannah Mutton will lead out her national bowl champions for the first ever women’s version of the contest and if that comes to fruition it would certainly be a fantastic curtain raiser for the afternoons entertainment.


The ladies game is set to start around 12 noon with the men’s match due to kick-off at 1pm.

All at Wanderers would like to wish their members, spectators, sponsors and the wider Inverclyde community all the very best for the festive season and a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2020.


Wanderers are sponsored by MM Search.


Preview by Donald Cunningham

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