THINGS may be tough at Pudsey Congs, but it is a case of what does not kill you, makes you stronger.
It has been a fall from grace for the Britannia Ground outfit, with their glory title-winning days and five-in-a-row sequence from 2000-04 being a distant memory, with the club now residing in the Bradford League’s second tier following relegation last term.
But Congs, a proud club with a rich history, are battling on and despite limited funds to inspire a renaissance, they are intent on building from the bottom up and giving youth a chance in the hope of incremental improvement over the coming seasons.
Congs cricket chairman Ralph Middlebrook said: “We are battling on. We have not played well overall, but we have reconciled ourselves to the fact that while we are still trying to compete, provide excellent pitches and have a good standard of everything, we are not going to be paying people a lot of money because we have not got it.
“We have got to adjust to reality. People keep saying that cricket is dying; well it is not dying, but it is not well.
“If we are not careful, we are going to lose a lot of youngsters into the game, so we are now giving ours a chance to go right through the system.
“We feel we have competed in every game bar one. It is a dose of reality, but we will soldier on and hope for better times. But better times will not mean splashing out on players.
“We are not giving up, but we have to accept that we cannot just go sign a bowler or a batter for so many thousands of pounds.”
Congs lie in mid-table and while results have been inconsistent, a number of promising players are making contributions and showing glimpses of hope for the future.
Middlebrook added: “Sam Wisniewski is dual registered with the (Yorkshire) Academy and we have got Vikram Sharma who has been sent to us from Yorkshire.
“James Ford can play and Jamie Allen is a good cricketer and we have one or two batters who are developing, albeit slowly.
“They are all enjoying it and the spirit in the club remains high in every respect; we just want a few more points.
“We will be back; possibly not immediately. But we will be back, we are working hard at it!”
Congs (226-8) gave third-placed Morley (230-9) a fight on Saturday before being edged out, with Reggie Thomas (76) top-scoring for the victors.
Defeat was harsh on James Ford (94), with Dave Nebard taking 4-57 for Morley.
New leaders are Wrenthorpe (272-7), who hammered Batley, skittled for 46, with outstanding contributions arriving from Jordan Sleightholme (119) and Awais Ejaz (7-25).
Undercliffe (164-6) are second after beating basement boys Ossett (160), for whom Craig Wiseman bagged 4-36.
In the top tier, New Farnley (230-2) returned to the summit following a supreme eight-wicket win over previous leaders Pudsey St Lawrence (228-9), with Martin Andersson hitting a stunning unbeaten 115.
Andersson shared in three-figure stands with Simon Lambert (51) and Andrew Hodd (48no), with Lambert (6-49) also having a fine day with the ball.
Mark Robertshaw (78) top-scored for St Lawrence, whose innings fell away after an excellent start.
Champions Hanging Heaton (246) are experiencing a dip after losing out by three wickets to Methley (249-7), the Tewits’ second successive league loss.
Methley were indebted to a tremendous stand of 140 for the fourth wicket between Adam Patel (79) and Grant Soames, with the latter earlier taking 4-50, while Waqas Ahmed took 6-64. Callum Geldart (85) top-scored for Heaton.