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Crucial weekend for Liverpool Lions as wheelchair rugby team bids for promotion

Liverpool Lions face a crucial test this weekend as the newly formed wheelchair rugby team bids for promotion from BT Super Series Division 3.

The club – which is sponsored by us here at Fish Insurance – is currently in pole promotional position, having gone through the season undefeated to take the league’s northern title and top the national table.

This weekend sees them taking on teams from both north and south as the season reaches its climax at Stoke’s Fenton Manor Sports Complex. On Saturday the fledgling side is set to take on Glasgow side, Caledonian Crushers, and Suffolk’s Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors, before the deciding final game on Sunday.

The team’s founder, coach and forward player Martin Beddis is brimming with confidence as he prepares the Lions for the weekend’s action. “We’ve already won comfortably against Caledonian twice,” he says. “We haven’t yet played Woodbridge because they’re a southern side, but I am confident we can overcome them. ”

But before the Champagne cork can be popped the Lions must first reach and win the final where form suggests the challenge will be much tougher. The opposition is likely to be either Stoke Mandeville Maulers – who are also unbeaten this season – or Wakefield’s Yorkshire Lions who sit third in the league.

Should the Liverpool side break through into Division 2 it’ll be a remarkable achievement for a side playing its first ever season. Martin, who is also player/coach the England Wheelchair 7s Union national squad, puts the team’s success down to the experience of core players who are complemented by new recruits to the sport.

“We recruited experienced players so that even our youngest, Tom Baines, who’s 13, has got six years behind him. His defensive team-mate Jim Harrison has been playing for 9 years, me for eight and my forward colleague Roy Humphries 22 years.

“It means we have an experienced starting line-up capable of building up a comfortable lead and we can then substitute to for newer players, give them court time to experience the game and learn.”

Thus far it’s been a winning formula and one that Martin hopes will work again for the final promotion push. “For me personally it would be great if we could not just win promotion but win the league. That would be a fantastic achievement, especially if we finished undefeated. “

The wider implications for club and sport would also be significant. “It would promote not just the Liverpool Lions but the sport and the other variations of wheelchair rugby that we play.  A league title would also help recruit players, recruit more sponsors like Fish and get grant applications going.”

He’s gracious too in acknowledging the support we at Fish have given to the Lions by becoming its first ever shirt sponsor. “We couldn’t have done it without you, and the support of our other sponsors,” he says. Now, grateful as we are for his thanks, we know that’s not the case. Whilst we will graciously acknowledge the importance of sponsorship to amateur teams like the Lions, the team’s success is down to the talent and endeavours of the squad – not least the experience and unbridled enthusiasm of its player-coach!

We are, though, delighted and honoured that our name is emblazoned across the chests of a team which has achieved so much in so little time. We’ll also have everything crossed this weekend!

If you’d like to follow the Lions’ progress then give the club’s Twitter a follow as Martin will be posting match updates over the weekend.

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