Andrew Henderson is the one Ealing Trailfinders player who will be forgiven for heading for the home dressing room, rather than the away one when Mike Cudmore’s side take on Jersey in the Greene King IPA Championship on Saturday.
The fullback spent a year at St Peters in the 2010-11 season before he left for Barking and then a year later arrived at Vallis Way.
The match is vital for both sides who occupy 11th and 12th place in the table and a repeat of Ealing’s 26-15 victory the last time they played Ben Harvey’s side would be more than welcome, but Henderson is aware that Jersey’s quality means that Ealing will need to be at their best if they are to match that outcome.
“Ben and his back room team have been very successful since I left the island and for them to get where they have, much like Ealing is very impressive,” he said.
“I think judging on their league position last year it is credit to the Championship as a league because the island side have a lot of good players and due to them being ‘the new boys’ like us this season they had to battle hard to avoid the drop.
“I think the side will want to become an established Championship side over the coming years and consolidate a higher league position, but when the Island side becomes more experienced at this level I feel they could really be a force in the Championship and may one day push for the top end of the league.”
Henderson was a popular figure in the Channel Islands and scored nine tries in 30 appearances in National 1. While there he firmly established himself among the community and is a regular visitor there during the summer months.
On the pitch Jersey have established themselves in the division following a slow start to life in English rugby’s second tier last season, but they eventually managed to avoid relegation back to National 1 in their first season.
“Jersey is a great island with great people,” he said. “My memories of the season I spent there are fond ones; we had an exciting set of young players with a back-line that liked to chuck the ball around. We were all very close and coupled with the support the club receive it was a great place to be.
“The island is a small place as anyone will tell you, the rugby club get a lot of recognition in the papers over there and you often see people that come and watch around the town.”