THE Oddfellows and Earnshaw Cups get under way today – but one team will NOT be able to defend the Trophy they lifted last year!
For Clayton West, who triumphed in the first XIs’ Oddfellows Cup last season when they beat Thongsbridge in the final, went on to win the Frank Platt Championship to gain promotion to the Premiership, and subsequently do not now qualify to play in the Oddfellows competition.
The Oddfellows and Earnshaw Cups (the latter for second XIs) are only open to Championship and Conference clubs, and were introduced a couple of seasons back in order to give those outside the top flight the chance of some extra games.
Coincidentally, Clayton’s brief hold on the Oddfellows is the second time in successive seasons that the winners are not able to defend, as the 2010 victors were Kexborough, who promptly left the League for pastures new.
Among those who will fancy their chances of getting their hands on some silverware this time will be the two clubs relegated from the top flight last season, Broad Oak and Barkisland.
Broad Oak, led by Max Freeland (pictured), will be confident of getting over the first hurdle when they entertain Paddock, but Barkisland face a much trickier test when they tackle Meltham away, and the Mean Lane side will almost certainly be serious Championship title rivals to Barkisland and Broad Oak.
League new boys Cumberworth get their first crack at a Championship club when they welcome Thongsbridge to Cumberworth Lane, while last season’s newcomers Cawthorne, who seem to be a formidable outfit when it comes to cup competitions, are also at home to Frank Platt opponents Holmfirth.
Naturally, it doesn’t have the kudos of the Sykes Cup, but if the weather stays kind, then a couple of home draws could add a generous little bonus to those going the distance.
Hall Bower were last season’s Earnshaw Cup winners, and they will be around to defend the trophy when they begin with a home tie against Lascelles Hall.
As with the Sykes Cup and Paddock Shield, the Oddfellows and Earnshaw Cups get under way at the earlier time of 1pm.