SATURDAY sees just the third visit of Ampthill & District to Butts Park Arena with the visitors looking for their first win.
There is no evidence of any meetings between the two clubs prior to the first league encounter in 2015/16, which came after Ampthill’s promotion from National League Two South.
The four matches played so far have all ended in a win for the home club. Last season Cov lost 22-8 away before reversing the result with a 29-19 win here later in the season.
Records tell us that rugby football was played in the Ampthill area of Bedfordshire from around 1881. The club itself though was reformed after the Second World War in 1950. Much has happened over the ensuing years – the clubhouse, for example, which is situated some way from the senior pitch was built in1980, with several other pitches being added to the site over periods of time.
Reflecting its community club status, in addition to running some five senior sides Ampthill also runs veteran and colts teams and a very big junior and mini section.
Mark Lavery has remained as director of rugby with Paul Turner, well known for his long time in the rugby world both as a player and coach, working as head coach. Maama Molitika and Kevin Barrett, whilst continuing to play, are both also heavily engaged in the coaching, covering forwards and backs.
Ampthill finished last season, their second in level three, in third place behind Hartpury and Plymouth Albion. Currently, with eight wins and a draw from their 13 matches, they lie fourth. Last Saturday our visitors made the long trek, which Cov face next weekend, to Darlington Mowden Park where, by all accounts, they came mighty close to denting the unbeaten home record of the north easterners – a converted try at the death meaning, ultimately, just a losing bonus point.
Quite a number of the Ampthill squad have links to ourselves. Lock forward Ben Gulliver is, of course, son of our own Tony, whilst four others have at some point also worn a Cov jersey. Another lock, Alex Woolford played four times in season 2012/13 whilst dual registered from Northampton Saints. The other three are all backs – wingers Peter Weightman and Sam Baker who both played here in the 2015/16 season, Baker whilst dual registered from Cinderford, and James Pritchard. The ex-Bedford Blues player spent part of last season at Butts Park as both a player and defence coach.
In common with many other clubs, there was quite an amount of player movement at Dillingham Park during the close season, some 19 newcomers joining the 29 or so who remained.
Pritchard is currently Ampthill’s top points scorer on 54 with ex Loughborough fly-half Josh Sharp is two behind on 52. Baker is top try scorer with eight, followed by flanker Syd Blackmore, originally with Bath Academy, on seven.