Rob Denton aiming to bring an ‘old head’ to Holmfirth’s quest
LET’S be clear about this – last season Holmfirth actually finished at the top of the Frank Platt Championship!
That they didn’t win the title and be promoted into the Premiership was down to the fact they were controversially deducted a massive 24 points for playing an ineligible player, which, but for a final day victory over champions Clayton West, would have actually seen them relegated.
The League handbook actually shows their penalty as being only 12 points when they unwittingly played Javed Iqbal (snr), believing him to be still registered from the previous season.
Although their ‘error’ was spotted by the League after the first game, Holmfirth didn’t receive the message until after they had played him a second time, and were then duly docked 12 points they had accrued from the two victories, plus the swingeing 12-point penalty imposed by the Executive.
This season the Holme Valley club are aiming to replicate last year’s effort – obviously without incurring any unnecessary handicaps along the way – and with that in mind have brought in the experienced ‘old head’ of Robert Denton to hopefully plot their path back to the Premiership.
“Initially the contact came from Holmfirth’s treasurer Bruce Jakeman whom I’ve known for many years, and who was my captain at Honley when we won the Sykes Cup in 1982,” said Denton, who in recent years has been a valuable servant at Shepley, skippering both the first and second teams.
“I also have family ties at Holmfirth, through the Gummersons, Matthew and Max (Rob’s sister is their mother) and of course my own youngest son Sam, who moved there last season.
“So it was nice to team up with them and see how it goes. Plus I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and a new opportunity.
“I’m sure everyone relishes playing with their own sons, I’ve played with Tom (Rob’s eldest) at Shepley, and I’m still enjoying playing myself.
“I know Sam enjoyed his first season at Holmfirth, even though it meant he missed out on Shepley’s Cup finals, and he had a decent-enough year with 50 wickets and almost 500 runs.
“This year we picked up opener batsman James Sykes from Golcar, who was keen to come down here after moving into the area and, like myself, wanted a fresh challenge, while Greg Alexander has returned to the club from Slaithwaite, and he made a very useful contribution with an unbeaten 41 in our Sykes Cup win over Almondbury Wesleyans.
“We also have an interesting overseas player in 20-year-old left-arm spinner and early-order batsman Mitchell Santner, who comes from New Zealand. He was recommended to the club by former Lascelles Hall favourite James Pamment, which we then followed up.
“Mitchell is a very good all-rounder, who grabbed a five-for in the Cup game and also picked up three wickets in his opening game against Meltham, and I think he will definitely fill the boots of Javed Iqbal, who is no longer with the club.”
Santner hails from Hamilton, south of Auckland in the North Island, and has represented North District Under 19s, and the senior side, playing first class matches against Otago and Wellington. He is hoping to feature more prominently next season, and is very highly rated back home.
With the exception of the Cup game against Central League outfit Wesleyans, Holmfirth have yet to win a League game (they’ve played only two before today, with the second against Broad Oak washed out).
“We’ve had a tricky start, but our opening game against Meltham could really have gone either way, after we made 151 and they just managed to knock them off in the 46th over with seven wickets down.
“Batting wise we have struggled on the early poor wickets, but I do think we are a better bowling side than batting anyway,” continued Denton.
“Overall this is a very good young side with the exception of myself and Javed Iqbal junior. Matt Gummerson skippered the team last season and did a terrific job, but I think the committee felt they were just missing that bit of experience and guidance.
“Like I said, it’s a very youthful team with the likes of Matt and his brother Max, and there are the Thornton brothers Ross (who also plays rugby union for the YMCA) and Brett.
“I’m also expecting another good contribution from opening batsman Chris Cowell, who notched almost 800 runs last season, and from Seb Allen, who is a very good up-and-coming wicketkeeper, and who has beenworking hard on his batting.
“I had some great times at Shepley, but now I’m really looking forward to the new challenge here at Holmfirth, and hopefully we can turn it round after a poor start and challenge for promotion, although I do believe it’s going to be a very tight league this season.”