Bradford League: New Farnley eye future title after Priestley Cup win

Priestley Cup winners, New Farnley. PIC: Ray Spencer
Priestley Cup winners, New Farnley. PIC: Ray Spencer

new boys New Farnley have set their sights on becoming Bradford League champions after winning the prestigious Priestley Cup in only their fifth year in the Bradford League.

New Farnley joined the league in 2013, leaving the Central Yorkshire League to be placed in the Bradford League’s second tier.

Hanging Heaton's Nick Connolly passes 1,000 runs for the season at Cleckheaton. PIC: Steve Riding

Hanging Heaton's Nick Connolly passes 1,000 runs for the season at Cleckheaton. PIC: Steve Riding

Five years later, the team sit sixth in the league’s Premier Division with the Priestley Cup in their cabinet after Sunday’s gutsy success against Championship One leaders Methley. The triumph marks a notable cup double with New Farnley also winning the Heavy Woollen Cup last year.

And after bagging the Bradford League’s premier cup competition, secretary Richard Good admits the natural next step for his progressive side is to challenge for the league’s biggest prize of all.

“To win the Priestley Cup after such a short time in the Bradford League is one hell of an achievement,” said Good.

“It’s something we always wanted to win but I don’t think the club had any aspirations when they first joined the Bradford League to win the Priestley Cup so quickly.

“We won the Heavy Woollen last year and we thought that was pretty prestigious. But to win the Priestley Cup ranks right up alongside that one and it’s really down to John Baldwin, our chairman. He is the backer that has put the teams together and it’s all down to him really.

“John basically sets the club up and he would like to win the league. But to win the league we have obviously got to gain a little bit more experience and be a little bit more savvy at times against some of the weaker teams.

“In the last two years especially we have got off to bad starts in the league and we are always playing catch up so we need to rectify that situation.

“If we get off to a good start in the league each year then we will be up there challenging but that’s the next aim of the club – to push for title honours.

“Whether that happens next year or the year after or in five or ten years down the league – there’s a lot of really good teams in that Bradford League that haven’t won the title for a long time or who haven’t won it all. It’s a pretty tough competition to be involved in.”

Farnley had to dig in to land Sunday’s cup final after a superb 97 from Mitchell O’Connor, supported by decent knocks from Andrew Hodd (46) and Lee Goddard (54) took them to 254 all out.

Methley then raced to 132 without loss but New Farnley eventually removed first Grant Soames (54) and then Marcus Walmsley (93) en route to victory. Luke Jarvis removed both as part of a crucial return of 4-36.

Farnley were also victorious the previous day when dealing a crushing blow to second-placed Farsley’s title hopes by recording a 124-run victory. Jarvis (4-44) and O’Connor (106) were again the star men.

“Realistically I think Farsley’s title hopes are over,” said Good. “But, to be honest, Hanging Heaton are the best team in the league and they should go on and win the league quite comfortably now.”

Heaton lead Farsley by 26 points with two games left after Saturday’s 83-run win at second-bottom Cleckheaton.

Cleck are one point behind third-bottom East Bierley who suffered a five-wicket loss at home to fifth-placed Pudsey St Lawrence. Fourth-bottom Batley are just two points above the drop zone after their five-wicket success at home to eighth-placed Lightcliffe.

Pudsey Congs remain bottom but only six points off safety after their 31-run triumph at home to seventh-placed Bradford & Bingley.

Elsewhere, third-placed Woodlands slipped to a two-run loss at fourth-placed Townville.

But the weekend belonged to New Farnley who duly celebrated in style.

“I think they got away at about two o’clock in the morning,” laughed Good.

“They partied hard long into the night and there were a few sore heads.

“We are more than happy, the whole club is ‘rapt’.”