PUDSEY ST LAWRENCE may be on the brink of their first Bradford League championship since 1991 – but cricket chairman Paul Hutchinson is crystal clear on one thing.
Namely that tomorrow opponents, reigning champions Cleckheaton, will be doing their upmost to ensure that Lawrence will not be lifting the Division One title at Moorend, where the league silverware has been kept in their trophy cabinet for the past two years.
All roads lead to Cleck’ tomorrow, with the third-placed hosts still having an outside chance of making it a hat-trick of titles if they beat Lawrence and the visitors don’t get the seven points they need for glory.
The Moorenders must also rely on Lightcliffe doing then a favour at home to second-placed Woodlands, who lead Cleck’ by four points.
But the destination of the gong is most definitely in the hands of Saints.
While seven points is a straightforward equation for Jimmy Smith’s side, Hutchinson insists that Lawrence definitely will not be getting too clever in their pursuit of points and will keep it simple as they aim to win – and forget ticking off bonus points.
Hutchinson said: “If you go in looking for the seven points, that is your downfall.
“You go in as you would do normally in trying to win a game of cricket and then let the rest of the day unfold.
“Let’s not forget Cleckheaton are the current champions and have won it two years on the spin and are sat third.
“It is not going to be a cakewalk. We are going to have to work our socks off to get some points off them.
“They will not want anyone being presented with their trophy at their ground. They will be doing their best to stop us.”
It has been a season in which Lawrence, whose batsman Mark Robertshaw needs three more runs to reach the 1,000 run seasonal milestone, have firmly cast side a reputation as being late-season chokers.
They have lasted the championship course, even handling a dip in results in high summer after a peerless first half of the season when most of what they touched seemed to turn to gold.
Lawrence’s recovery after their character was tested after almost exclusively having it their own way has shown they have resolve and now it’s about finishing off the job.
Hutchison added: “We led from week three and are still there going into the last game of the season. That should be testament to the lads and how they have played this year.
“We did have a ‘speed wobble’ and we knew we would have that in us as we are not the dream team. We know we are not unbeatable.
“We had to regather our thoughts and crack on and we have done.”
IN terms of dramatic final-day showdowns, we have plainly been here before.
Rewind the clock to September 2013, when a crazy day saw Cleckheaton claim their first ever Bradford League Division One despite losing at Woodlands, who were chasing a hat-trick of titles.
Fortunately for Cleck’, their nearest challengers, ironically Pudsey St Lawrence, lost at Lightcliffe, to ensure a night of celebration back at Moorend.
No doubt Lawrence would settle for a rather more conventional day tomorrow, but one thing cricket chairman Paul Hutchison knows is that a pulsating end to the league season is more evidence of the strength of the division.
And he feels the title scrap will be even more intense next year – regardless who lifts the title tomorrow evening.
He said: “It bodes well for the Bradford League for the future.
“There’s us three in it going into the final week and there were a couple more two weeks ago when you had such as Hanging Heaton in there.
“I am pretty sure New Farnley will be trying hard as well next year and I think you will be looking at six teams winning it next year, which is a great place for the league to be in.”
At the bottom, Farsley must beat New Farnley to have any chance of staying up tomorrow.