Rooting for the enemy as Humberside clubs collide

Sam Wheeler Relations between Hull Ionians and Hull could hardly be described as cosy but Terry Garnett will be in both dressing rooms at rugby union's Humber derby this afternoon.

Garnett is coach of Hull but he also moonlights as coach of Ionians' Under-13s, for whom his son Ashley plays in the curtain-raiser against Hull.

Given the antipathy between the two North One clubs, it is most unusual for anyone to have a foot in both camps but Garnett, who played in the Premiership for Rotherham, explains that Ionians had the better junior set-up when his son started playing.

"Ashley went down to Ionians when he was seven," he said. "We lived down the road and his friends were there. Back then, Hull didn't have a particularly good junior section, but now, it is catching up pretty rapidly."

Garnett believes that the animosity between the two clubs is exaggerated, although he concedes that each is not desperate for the other to succeed.

He said: "There is a perceived acrimony but after the game last month, all the players went out together as one. There is no issue between the players or the coaches.

"But we always look for their results and snigger when they lose, and I'm sure they do the same. When I go down on a Sunday morning they ask how we did, even though they know we lost, and then say 'that's a shame'."

Today is only the second league meeting between the clubs: Ionians caused a slight surprise by winning at Haworth Park last month and have taken over from their neighbours at the top of the table on points difference.

Preston Grasshoppers, though, are level on points with both and have a game in hand.

"This rematch should be interesting," said Garnett. "For anyone in Hull that likes rugby, whether it be league or union, this is the game to watch.

"We didn't perform particularly well in the last match

but we have addressed things."

Hull are at full-strength; veteran open-side Derek Eves returns for Ionians, who are without injured stand-off Craig Barker.

East Yorkshire rugby union needs a presence in the top flight but Garnett cannot bring himself to say that he would like to see both go up.

He said: "If we win the league, for their players and coaches I would like to see them come up with us. But if I am brutally honest, with my commercial head on, if you want Hull to do well, you don't want competition over your shoulder.

"We want to be the leading club in the area, to get good sponsorship and good exposure, and the only way to do that is to be a division above your rival."

At Under-13 level, though, Garnett is rooting for the enemy.