IT is A toss-up who will be fired up the most in tomorrow’s Pudsey derby – Congs or visiting St Lawrence.
For the latter, aiming to end their title drought which stretches back to 1991, there’s the serious business of getting their championship show back on the road after a run of just one league victory in their last five completed Bradford League Division One matches.
Lawrence’s wobbles have ignited a race for silverware with Woodlands, Cleckheaton and Hanging Heaton firmly in the mix with the table having tightened up somewhat of late.
It is a far cry from the first half of the season when the quest for silverware looked like turning into a procession,
It was during that peerless streak that James Smith’s side inflicted a crushing 112-run defeat upon their neighbours on May 25 – and Congs will have memories of that game firmly in their minds when they take the field for the reverse fixture at the Britannia Ground.
Congs representative Ralph Middlebrook said: “They walked all over us at their place.
“We batted very poorly. We also collapsed in losing against Woodlands and Lightcliffe in and don’t seem to have applied ourselves in every match.
“We are capable of beating anybody on our day, but we don’t seem to be able to plug all aspects of our game together, except in Twenty20.
“We’ve under-achieved, but we’ve got the talent. I don’t think St Lawrence will be delighted at the thought of playing us.
“It will be a good tussle and we will give our best. For once, it looks like a really cracking end of the season, both to stay up and win the league.
“Last Saturday was also below-par from us at Saltaire and we were still talking about winning the thing (title) on Thursday. We missed a heaven-sent opportunity.
“Gareth (Phillips) is fighting like mad to instil some discipline and they all seem to be guilty of not showing it occasionally.”
Meanwhile, Middlebrook is backing the proposal to merge the Bradford League with the Central Yorkshire and has cited Congs’ rise as a force after moving over from the now defunct Leeds League in 1987 as proof that it can only represent a good thing for aspiring teams.
He said: “I think it will work. I think any club or league should be involved with it.
“All the teams in one area should play in one league and you should only progress if you are good enough and have the right facilities.
“This should give ambition to other clubs from other leagues like to did for us, Woodlands and New Farnley and other clubs who battled out of what you call obscurity to the top echelons of club cricket in Yorkshire.
“It promotes that opportunity and gives every club the ambition to improve.”
With the Heavy Woollen Cup safely in the cabinet, Woodlands are now focusing their sights on the Bradford League Division One title.
With just five games remaining, the top four teams are separated by just 20 points and the race is building towards a thrilling conclusion.
Woodlands lie second, 12 points behind long-time leaders Pudsey St Lawrence going into a key weekend of matches.
Woodlands travel to second-bottom Farsley tomorrow, with the Red Laners in desperate need of points themselves for different reasons, namely staving off the drop.
Reigning champions Cleckheaton are just four points further back and are waiting in the wings should the top two slip up.
The Moorenders were due to travel to Woodlands last weekend, but poor weather proved the winner on a day when much of the Bradford League programme was decimated by heavy rain.
Cleckheaton are also in derby action as they welcome East Bierley to Moorend in what should be another intriguing contest.
Bierley lie eighth in the table but are just 11 points above the relegation zone.
Hanging Heaton, in the title mix, go to Bradford and Bingley and New Farnley make the trip to Undercliffe.