PUDSEY CONGS chairman Ralph Middlebrook has revealed that the club have written to the ECB Bradford League for clarification as to whether all top-flight clubs successfully fulfil all top-flight criteria requirements – following Congs’ relegation at the weekend.
Middlebrook says that Congs have long held concerns about whether certain rival clubs do satisfy league criteria and they have made their feelings known by letter to the league with ‘a heavy heart’ – while being adamant that the move is nothing to go with ‘sour grapes’ in the wake of the club’s drop into Championship One on Saturday.
Middlebrook said: “We are concerned about whether all the clubs in the Premier League have the criteria for the ECB standards for Premier (League) membership.
“We have written to the league saying we are concerned about that sort of thing and asked that they will look at an audit of the clubs. That is not sour grapes; it is an attempt to improve standards.
“We just hope that all the Premier League clubs have the full requirements for Premier League conditions laid down by the ECB regarding juniors and Clubmark.
“In one club, the pitch was not ready (in one game) and if it hadn’t been for the good nature of the visiting club, who got their groundsman to prepare the pitch, they wouldn’t have been able to continue to play the match.
“They have had no punishment for that and gained points in that match. Had the other team been less cooperative, they could have walked away and said: ‘no pitch, no game, we will take the twenty points.’
“We hope to get a reasonable response.”
Saturday proved an agonising occasion at the Britannia Ground as Congs lost out by the heart-breaking margin of one run to New Farnley.
Two runs from the final ball of their match with New Farnley would have earned them a tie and that would have seen them finish level on points with East Bierley and survive by virtue of having one more victory.
But Congs only managed a single and finished on 136-5 in reply to Farnley’s 137-3 in a game reduced to 20 overs per side because of rain, which blighted the final weekend in the top-flight.
Mubtada Akhtar (45) and Zahid Nissar (45no) led the charge for Congs, but to no avail.
Earlier, Lee Goddard smashed a superb 97 for Priestley Cup winners Farnley.
Middlebrook rued: “We were very poor. We have got a talented side, but we have not welded that talent into a streetwise cricket team this year, despite the best efforts of the people involved. It just has not gelled and hopefully we will bounce back next year.
“The club will survive in the second division. We have not the money to shelve out on big players, but it is a sign of the times. Congs will survive and will show our fight in other ways.
“We will try and get back to the top division at the first time of asking. But whoever comes to Pudsey Congs will get a good game of cricket in good surroundings.”
Batley, who suffered a 99-run defeat against Woodlands in another 20-over contest, will join Congs in the second tier after being relegated after just one season in the top flight.
Bierley, whose match with Bradford & Bingley was abandoned with them in trouble at 75-5 in response to their rivals’ score of 186-6, finished with 166 points, two more than Batley and five better than Congs to survive.
Lightcliffe’s Matt Baxter made an unbeaten 112 before his side’s match with Cleckheaton was abandoned.
Baxter and Adam Wainwright (32) shared a fourth-wicket stand of 137. Play was abandoned with Lightcliffe at 168-4 from 26 overs.
There was no play at all in the game between champions Hanging Heaton and Pudsey St Lawrence at Tofts Road.