Return to Fylde will be strange for Preston Grasshoppers coach Paul Arnold

Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold is looking forward to going back to his old club Fylde (photo: Mike Craig)
Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold is looking forward to going back to his old club Fylde (photo: Mike Craig)

Paul Arnold will feel rather strange tomorrow when he walks into the opposition dressing room at Fylde Rugby Club.

The Preston Grasshoppers head coach takes his men to Woodlands – a place where he spent many happy years as a player and then coach.

“I had seven great years at Fylde as a player, player-coach and then head coach,” Arnold said.

“A lot of my friends are still there and there are a lot of great people at the club.

“It’s going to be a bit strange for me – it’s the first time I have been back there on the opposition side.

“But I am really looking forward to it.”

After an indifferent start to the season following relegation from National League One, Fylde are currently going great guns.

They have won five and drawn one of their previous six games to move to fifth in the table and Arnold believes his old club have it in them to make a run for the title.

But they will come up against a side this weekend who are also in a great run of form.

Last weekend’s convincing 25-0 win over South Leicester was Hoppers’ third win on the bounce, and they head to the coast this weekend knowing that they have already got the better of their arch-rivals this season.

On the second weekend of the campaign, Arnold’s men battled to a superb 18-15 
victory over their neighbours at Lightfoot Green.

“Fylde are in great form and they have got some great players,” said Arnold, whose side will not play again until the new year.

“Their coach Warren Spragg is doing a great job. He’s got them playing really well.

“If they carry on this run of form that they are on then I can see them finishing top two – or even top.

“That’s how much quality they have got in their squad.

“There’s no pressure on us – that’s what I have told our lads.

“By winning our last three games, we have already surpassed the points target we had set for the month of December.

“We beat them earlier in the season at our place so we can just go out and enjoy it – hopefully make it a clean sweep for this month.

“It has the making of being a real, old fashioned Christmas cracker.

“I think I played in the last Fylde-versus-Hoppers game at Woodlands when Jason Robinson made his debut for Fylde.

“There were two-and-a-half thousand spectators on that day and it would be 
great to get that again this weekend.”

After tomorrow’s fixture, Arnold plans to give his men a break over Christmas before they reconvene in 2019 for the home clash against Huddersfield on January 5.