Cup derby is shaping up to be a classic

SATURDAY’S widespread postponement of matches due to frost and snow has only added to the expectation surrounding one of the most eagerly-anticipated local cup matches for years next weekend.

It will involve table-topping pair Huddersfield Amateurs and Ovenden West Riding in the Halifax FA Saturday Cup semi-finals at Shroggs Park.

The Amateurs, very much a Calderdale team in spite of their name, are one of the oldest clubs in the area and one of the best set-up as they run four senior teams, seven juniors sides and have their own flat pitches and clubhouse at Old Earth, Elland.

According to manager David Hudson - well known in local cricket circles due to his Triangle connections - they have never won a major trophy in more than 100 years of trying. However, he believes that could be about to change after a recruitment drive in the latest close season.

As well as reaching the last four of the district cup - they are affiliated to the Halifax FA rather than the Huddersfield equivalent - they are also eight points clear at the top of the Yorkshire Amateur League and through to the semi-finals of the Yorkshire Old Boys Shield.

However, those credentials are unlikely to impress Ovenden, holders and regular winners of the Halifax FA Cup and currently riding high in the ultra-competitive West Riding County Amateur League. They also beat Amateurs at this stage of last year’s FA competition.

Hudson says Ovenden’s pedigree and record of success down the years means they will start favourites but warned them to take the “Amas” lightly at their peril.

“We are a completely different proposition to last year, with a strong backbone and a steely determination to go one step further this year in the cup,” he said.

“Don’t write off the prospects of extra time as this could be a really tight and exciting contest.”

Amateurs’ new additions are goalkeeper Ben Orchard and defender Leon Severn from Stainland United, Jacob Travis from Halifax Irish and the Heppenstall brothers, Mark and Dene, from neighbours Elland United.

Mark Heppenstall has arguably made the biggest impact, scoring 32 goals in 19 games, and he and ex-Ovenden player Sam Frankland have forged a potent and dangerous strike force.

The midfield has a settled look about it with some strong performances coming in from Dene Heppenstall, Andrew Sutcliffe and Hudson’s son Nathan while the defence as always is well marshalled by skipper Sam Clarke.

However, Hudson senior is well aware of the threat posed by the likes of John Booth, Andy Gregory and Steve Fullard for Ovenden on Saturday.

“This could prove to be one of the key battles where the game is won and lost on Saturday,” added Hudson, who took over as boss from Steve Fielding at the start of the season.

Hudson is looking forward to pitting his wits against Steve Smith, a key member of the Ovenden set-up for many years.

The pair go back a long way, to Hudson’s playing days in the Halifax Sunday League, and they usually meet up at least once a year as the clubs have a regular pre-season friendly date.

Amateurs shaded this season’s warm-up contest but Hudson knows this is the real deal and Ovenden will be tough nuts to crack.

“If we perform well it should be close,” he added.

The other Halifax FA Cup semi-final is between Calder ‘76 and Brighopuse Town on the following Saturday.

EALANDIANS were one Calderdale football team to take to the pitch on Saturday - but not for long.

The Hullen Edge side’s Yorkshire Amateur League contest against Shire Academics at home got under way but was abandoned after two and a half minutes as snow made the pitch like a ice skating rink.