Champs expect tough opener

Brighouse Sports Club, scene of last season's title decider
Brighouse Sports Club, scene of last season's title decider

Brighouse Sports start their defence of the Halifax League title on Wednesday and will settle for victory by any margin at Asa Briggs.

Long-serving player Tony Riley, whose side dethroned Elland WMC in a thrilling climax to the 2013 season, said Asa Briggs would provide a stern challenge.

“They are a decent team with a good set of lads and it is a good home green.

“When we played there last season the green was in the best condition I’ve ever seen it.

“We’ll be happy with any sort of win.”

Brighouse will again by captained by Richard Hobson and Riley said they would have the same 14-man squad as last season plus possibly a couple of extra players.

Nigel and John Bloomer are among the players now officially under the Brighouse banner following the demise of Blakeborough BC.

Brighouse will have four teams on a Wednesday night, with three in the Spen Valley League, but the first team will be in the Halifax League.

“We’re very much looking forward to it,” said Riley.

Brighouse joined theleague two years ago and were placed in Division Two. They promptly won that section before lifting the bigger prize last September.

“We expected to gain promotion in our first year but to win the top division last year was quite an achievement,” he said.

Riley said the fixture list couldn’t have panned out better in 2013 with Brighouse going head-to-head with Elland WMC, champion for the previous seven years, for the title in the final two matches.

The second game was at Brighouse, with the sides level on points. The teams had five winners each but Brighouse gained the two extra points by a 190-184 margin.

Riley expects Elland to be the main threats again this summer. The pair meet at Brighouse on June 18 with the return fixture seven days later.

Elland WMC have a tasty opener at home to Hill Crest while Luddenden Foot (home to Todmorden) and Hove Edge (away to Sowerby WE) will be keen to impress after promotion.

Teams in the top three divisions play on Wednesday. Fixtures in the three lower divisions start on April 16.

Wednesday’s fixtures - Division One: Luddenden Foot A v Todmorden Park, Elland WMC A v. Hill Crest A, Siddal Park A v Clayton Victoria, Sowerby West End A v Hove Edge A, Brighouse v Asa Briggs A, Crossroads A v Mytholmroyd BC A.

Division Two: Hipperholme A v Kingston A, Oxenhope v Crossroads B, Pellon A v Ripponden A, Akroydon Vics v Heptonstall, Greetland A v Elland C & BC A, Hill Crest B v Stainland A.

Division Three: Greenroyd A v Denholme, Laurel Crescent A v Akroydon Victoria B, Old Town v King Cross A, Mytholmroyd B v Moorside. Byes: Bradshaw A, Elland WMC B.

Asa Briggs have withdrawn their B team from Division Three of the Halifax Wednesday League.

This was the only division which already had a bye for all teams. Now teams will be without a game for four weeks during the season.

The Sowerby Bridge League starts on Tuesday with the veterans in the afternoon and a new set-up for the evening league.

There are now four divisions of 12 teams rather than five of 10 teams in response to a request for more matches.

There is also a new team, New Street from Littleborough, who will play in Division Two of the evening league.

Opening matches in the Brighouse and Elland Leagues are on Tuesday, April 7.

In the Hebden Royd League, the preliminary rounds of the cup launches the programme on April 7 with league matches a week later.