PIETER SWANEPOEL may have missed out on one party with Woodlands already this season, but he is desperately hoping to toast another with champagne early next month.
The Woodlands skipper and ex-Yorkshire paceman missed his side’s Heavy Woollen Cup final success over Huddersfield League side Holylandswaine at Ossett on August 2 due to a long-standing appointment in his native South Africa.
Lifting the Bradford League championship with Woodlands on September 5 would provide more than ample compensation, but before that eventuality happens, plenty of hard work will still have to take place.
The penultimate weekend of action in another compelling Division One title race in the Bradford League takes place tomorrow, with Pudsey St Lawrence leading Woodlands by the narrowest of margins – one point.
Most shrewdies expect the destination of silverware to go down right to the wire with third-placed Cleckheaton also in the mix, with the Moorenders hosting St Lawrence in a potentially devilish quirk of the fixture schedule on the final Saturday of the season.
Swanepoel is not looking too far ahead, but it goes without saying that he would cherish another successful tilt at league silverware after missing the recent Heavy Woollen shindig.
Swanepoel said: “I had a reunion booked in a good year ago, so I couldn’t play.
“We played well and at this part of the season it is about taking your opportunities and staying in the game. When you get your opportunity, you take it.
“You have to keep going until the last minute as you can always have the opportunity to take wickets even at the death.
“We have an opportunity to catch St Lawrence. But credit to them, they are the team who have played the most consistent cricket in the season so far.
Lawrence will be dearly hoping that big rivals Pudsey Congs can do them a favour by winning at Woodlands tomorrow.
Lawrence welcome Undercliffe, who meekly rolled over for 36 at Woodlands last weekend as Swanepoel’s side stole a march on their rivals, who were left hamstring by the weather.
Counting in Lawrence’s favour is the fact that Congs have enjoyed an intense if friendly rivalry with Woodlands over the years when the title invariably went to one or the other, particularly in the noughties.
Swanepoel added: “Congs is a tough game and the league could be decided after this game because if we lose, it’s all for St Lawrence because they are playing Undercliffe.
“St Lawrence are a good side and let’s hope Undercliffe can put up more of a fight.
“We have played Congs twice already this season and we have beaten them twice, so they will be really up for it.”
CLECKHEATON may be the outsiders in the Bradford League top-flight title race, but when it comes to form horses, they are right at the forefront.
The weather halted the champions’ charge last weekend with their Moorend clash with fourth-placed Hanging Heaton shaping up to be a compelling finale until the rain had other ideas.
As it stands, Cleck, in third and chasing a hat-trick of titles – something last achieved by Woodlands in 2007 – are 14 points behind second-placed Woodlands and 15 adrift of leaders St Lawrence, who they host on the final day.
Tomorrow, John Wood’s side visit relegation-haunted Saltaire, mindful that only victory will do as they chase their eighth win in their nine completed league games.
Rock-bottom Saltaire kept their hopes of survival alive with a vital win over relegation rivals Farsley last weekend, a grievous wound to the second-from-bottom Red Laners.
Farsley, 16 points behind third-from-bottom Undercliffe and a further two adrift of East Bierley, are almost down and out and face a toughie at Hanging Heaton.
Morley can secure the Division Two title to follow on from promotion if they beat Spen Victoria tomorrow and second-placed Scholes slip up at home to Bankfoot.