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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Hopes high that West Cumbrian rugby league derby is on

Hopes are high that the Ike Southward Memorial Game derby between Workington Town and Haven will be played on Monday.

Haven’s Recre pitch is thawing nicely after being frozen solid for more than a week.

The match was to have been played on Boxing Day but had to be postponed as the Recre was unplayable.

Town coach Gary Charlton is certainly eager for the game to be played.

He said: “These derbies are spot on.

“They are great to get the team up and running and people look forward to them every year.

“Players have mates on the opposing team and bragging rights are involved.

“Lose the derby and you get stick until the next one comes along. All our lads are as keen as mustard to play in this one.”

Long-serving Spencer Miller has spoken of his pride at being named Whitehaven’s new skipper.

The tough second row will lead Haven into battle for the first time against Town on Bank Holiday Monday (1pm ko).

And he revealed he did not need to be asked twice by David Seeds when the coach mooted the idea.

Miller said: “He asked me what I thought about it, and to think about it for a couple of weeks, but I could have told him there and then.

“It’s an honour and I was pleased to be asked. You don’t knock it back when asked to be captain of your home town team.”

Miller was offered the chance to take charge of Haven once before, but only on a very short-term basis.

“Dave Rotheram asked me a couple of years ago, when we had a few senior players missing, and I said no, so he asked John Duffy instead,” he added.

“I wanted to concentrate on my own game at the time. But this is probably the right time to do it.”

Haven general manager Barry Richardson is expecting a bumper occasion on Monday.

He said: “We have a good young squad, with some of the high quality players we’ve had at the club for a number of years.

“We are still looking to strengthen, but David is keen for players already at the club to get a chance to prove themselves.

“It can mean a lot of work for ground staff and administration, but it’s a very important game.

“The crowd is excited to see some rugby and it’s also a good source of income at this time of year, though Whitehaven are now on a very solid financial footing.

“Whitehaven against Workington, regardless of where they are in the league and whether it’s a friendly or not, is a game both want to win. You could never really term it a friendly as there’s always something at stake.”

Town’s prospects for the coming season have been handed a major boost with the news that prop Marc Jackson will be back in training next month.

It was feared that Jackson could be out for up to three months if surgeons diagnosed his knee problem as a micro-fracture.

But Jackson travelled to Oswestry last Wednesday where specialists decided he just needed a clean-out, which they performed right away.

And now the former Haven star will be back up and training with his new team-mates within two weeks.

Town boss Gary Charlton was delighted by the news, saying: “We were pleased he came out of the operation and only needed a clean out.

“He came through it well and he will be up and running in 10-14 days. Then he needs to get some training under his belt but he is the type of player that likes to be on the field so he may be right for the Barrow friendly.

“In short sharp bursts he is going to be a very good player for us and we are very glad he will be back quickly.

“The chairman was also really pleased, as was the player himself.”

The blockbusting prop signed from Haven during the close season, along with Graeme Mattinson and was handed the number 8 jersey when Town announced their squad numbers last week.

But he had been dogged by the knee injury since the end of last season, leaving him unable to begin pre-season training with his new club.

n Town Flyer: Monday, C Grimwood, Maryport, D8601; Tuesday, Sheena Torley, Workington, D0186; yesterday, Christine Meloy, Cockermouth, C3472; today, M Younger, Workington, E2549; tomorrow, A Wedgwood, Clifton, C0132. £10,000 yearly draw, Karen Graham.

n A new date still needs to be fixed for the Cumbria Cup final between amateur sides Seaton and Distington.

The game, first scheduled for Tuesday at the Recre, had to be postponed because of the harsh winter weather.

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