BIG GUNS North Leeds and Burley-in-Wharfedale had pretensions of being rather higher up the Aire Wharfe League table this year.
Last season saw the two clubs emerge as chief title threats to champions Otley with Burley finishing second and North Leeds third.
One year on, Burley are eighth and 31 points above the dropzone with North Leeds third-bottom and only nine points safe.
To put some much needed gloss on an another wise disappointing campaign, skippers Jason Wright and Dominic Cowley admit Sunday’s Waddilove Cup final between the two sides is even more important than normal (1pm start at North Leeds).
And Cowley hopes his men can also make the most of an extra big incentive with the North Leeds captain determined to cash in on home advantage to add to his club’s solitary Waddilove Cup triumph back in 1955.
“The venue is decided at the beginning of the season and that obviously gives us that added incentive as a club to work our way to get there,” Cowley told the YEP.
It’s going to make a big difference. We will have a lot of support coming down to watch the game and, hopefully, see us make a bit of history.North Leeds captain Dominic Cowley.
“It’s certainly a boost. We have put a lot of work in over the years and we have got one of the best grounds and clubhouses in the league.
“It’s going to make a big difference. We will have a lot of support coming down to watch the game and, hopefully, see us make a bit of history.
“We haven’t won the Waddilove Cup since 1955 and I know three years ago I played in a side that got to the semi final when we lost to Tong Park and that was a big blow and this is a big thing for our history. I know that as a club we are going to put on a good show and compete to make history ourselves.”
Neither side were able to take to the field at the weekend with North Leeds’ clash at Follifoot and Burley’s encounter at Ilkley both cancelled without any play as part of a complete wash across the league.
North Leeds nevertheless approach the clash following three-straight wins but Burley skipper Wright knows the importance of his men breaking that sequence and landing the club’s ninth Waddilove and first since 2013.
“It is important to get something out of the season,” said Wright.
“For us, not winning the cup and finishing mid table is quite a disappointing season.
“It would definitely be nice to win on Sunday and then have something to show for ourselves.”
North Leeds, though, are having similar thoughts.
“For us it’s the same,” admitted Cowley. “We came into the season with high hopes to be up there competing and it hasn’t really gone to plan in the league.
“We have won our last three games but we go into this very much as underdogs.
“Burley are a good side, they have been a strong side in this league for the last decade, so it’s going to be tough.”
Both teams will warm up for Sunday’s final with league games the previous day.
Burley travel to leaders Otley, while North Leeds also hit the road to take on fourth-placed Horsforth.