ANYONE glancing at the current standings at the top of the ECB Bradford Premier League would be forgiven for muttering the phrase ‘usual supects’.
It will not come as a great surprise that Pudsey St Lawrence, Hanging Heaton, Farsley and Woodlands are the ones setting the pace after three top-flight games, with each boasting perfect sequences, although one 100 per cent record is likely to be surrendered tomorrow at Albert Terrace.
It sees champions St Lawrence visit Woodlands in a fixture which is likely to provide a barometer of the sides’ progress thus far.
For their part, Woodlands have at least displayed evidence that there is life after legendary overseas man Safraz Ahmed with several of their strong supporting cast having made individual contributions in the early weeks of the season.
Looking ahead to the game and professing little surprise in the early-table make-up, Woodlands secretary Brian Pearson said: “It is the first top side we have played and things have ticked over nicely for us.
“Jamie Pickering has made a good start and we are delighted for him. He got a duck in his first game, but he has stepped up since and he can certainly bat and has had some good scores.
“Tim (Jackson) has also had a hundred and the (Chris) Brice and (Kez) Ahmed partnership has also come into play.
“Mark Lawson has also made a good start and Elliot (Richardson) has done well after being away in Australia.
“And perhaps the one who has done the best so far is Scott (Richardson). He had an excellent game at Pudsey Congs and got 5-9.
“We have lost Saffy, but look to have a balance. Lawson has come in and is a winner as is Jamie, Bricey and Kez. They are all match-winners in their own way.
On opponents St Lawrence, Pearson added: “They just got over the line at Cleckheaton in the (Priestley) Cup on Sunday. But that is what makes a good side; winning games that you look like losing.
“Looking at it so far, I would say Hanging Heaton look the side to beat.
“But the four teams up there are who you would probably have expected.”
Just three points currently separates the top four, with current leaders St Lawrence holding a two-point advantage over second-placed Farsley, who play host to East Bierley at Red Lane tomorrow.
Heaton head to New Farnley, while Cleckheaton head to Batley and Lightcliffe host Bradford and Bingley.
After last weekend’s relieving league win over Batley, Pudsey Congs break further new ground with a first-ever league visit to Townville, seeking to build on last Saturday’s success.
Club chairman Ralph Middlebrook said: “It will be a tough ask at a new ground. But we beat Batley, having never previously played them. So let’s see if we can beat Townville.
“They look a good side with some good players and they have set their stall out to play well and have done well over the years.
“We would not expect an easy ride. But neither would we want one.”
Both the leaders at the summit of Championship One are in home action tomorrow.
Scholes face Bankfoot and Methley take on Yeadon.
IT promises to be a sentimental occasion for former Woodlands captain Tim Orrell on Sunday.
The former Albert Terrace skipper presided over a golden era in the club’s history in the noughties, leading the club to four consecutive Division One titles between 2005 and 2008 and one Division Two crown, as well as a Priestley Cup win in 2006.
Prior to joining in 1998 – with the Oakenshaw outfit then in the Central Yorkshire League – Orrell was playing at Saltaire and, after leaving Woodlands, the veteran has linked up with Mirfield Parish Cavaliers to ‘wind down’ his career.
Parish head to 2015 Heavy Woollen Cup winners Woodlands in a round-one tie with club secretary Brian Pearson looking forward to seeing a familiar face.
On the return of Orrell, who has scored over 10,000 Bradford League runs, Pearson said: “Tim is one of our ‘legends’ and still playing and getting hundreds and it will be nice to have him back here at the club.”
Elsewhere, holders New Farnley face a banana-skin game at New Popplewell Lane against Scholes, who have started the Bradford League Championship One season well.
Hoylandswaine, the side who Farnley beat in last year’s showpiece, provide the opposition for Methley in another intriguing battle.
Wrenthorpe, who won the competition four years in a row from 2007 to 2010 and also lifted the famous old trophy in 2012, play host to Rotherham-based outfit Treeton.
Townville make the trip to Crossbank Methodists and Morley head to Sheffield outfit Whitley Hall.
Birstall visit Kirkburton and 2013 winners Hanging Heaton go to Mirfield-based Moorlands.
Morley welcome Gomersal in Championship One on Saturday, while Wrenthorpe host Bowling Old Lane. Birstall go to Ossett.
Action in Championship Two sees Liversedge host leaders Buttershaw St Paul’s, who hold a four-point lead.
Carlton entertain second-placed Keighley, while Hartshead Moor’s unbeaten start to the campaign goes on the line against visiting Hunslet Nelson.
Brighouse host Northowram Fields and Spen Victoria are at home to Hopton Mills. Altofts welcome Idle.