MARSDEN’S Matt Butters is not really bothered who his side face in the play-offs – just so long as they get home advantage!
The fledgling skipper, in his first season at the helm, would dearly love to steer Marsden into the top flight of the Drakes League.
And after sealing second place to Slaithwaite in the Frank Platt Conference he fancies his chances – if they can bring the opposition – either Broad Oak or Kirkheaton – to Hemplow for the big match a week tomorrow.
“We are capable of beating all the better Conference sides on our home ground, and in many cases have already done so, including taking all six points off (runaway Cedar Court winners) Scholes,” said Butters.
“I think our ground suits the type of bowlers we have – and they know how to bowl on it.
“It’s definitely our bowlers who have got us into this position this season, that along with our fielding, because on the whole, I admit that once again, our batting has not been as good as we would have liked.
“I’ve really enjoyed my first season as skipper, and I think as a team we’ve done okay, particularly as we are a very much a side of youngish local lads who are operating on a small budget.”
One new face to Marsden this season was opening bowler Simon Robinson, recruited from Lepton Highlanders.
And he has certainly played a big part in helping the club reach this season’s play-off final.
“Simon has done really well for us, and certainly helped fill the hole left by Mark Mitchell after his move to Slaithwaite,” continued Butters.
“He has taken around 40 wickets and occasionally chipped in with some useful late runs, while helping me out as vice-captain.
“It’s just unfortunate he’ll not be around next season, as he’s moving out to Dubai for a couple of years.
“Ian Bray is another of our bowling attack who has done really well this time.
“He’s a local lad, still in his early twenties, and he is just getting better and better.
“He was out for about five weeks or so with injury and we missed him.
“And then we have 16-year-old Joe Lumb Cup member Sam Hall who has taken his chance well.
“I gave him an opportunity with the new ball at the start of the summer and he’s kept it all season.
“Andy May has also done a good job for us too, and then there is our overseas man Peter Lombard, who came back to Marsden after a spell at Meltham and then played for Scholes in the Central Yorkshire League.
“We knew what we were getting with Peter because he’d played here before and I think he’s a very underrated bowler.
“He knows himself that he’s probably under-performed with the bat, but he’s still a good asset.
“If we can win the play-off and get promoted, Peter is one of several players, including myself, Paul Hamer and Shaun Alderson, who have previous experience of playing in the Premiership.
“Maybe some of the Conference sides wouldn’t want to go up – we most certainly do!
“As far as I’m concerned there is no point in playing if you don’t want to do your best and try to win promotion.
“If we should go up, then we will be looking at trying to sign a top-order batsman and bowler.
“But basically we have a young side, and the lads who have got us into that position should be given the chance.”
Marsden last reached the Conference play-off final three years ago, when they were beaten by a Gary Hodgson-inspired knock for Kirkheaton in a match played at Almondbury (in 2005 a neutral ground was the preferred option).
Butters was not with the Hemplow club then, but two players who were are opening batsman Martin Kyle and South African-born Lombard, who along with their skipper will be aiming to go a step further than they managed in 2005.