SHEPLEY can end 16 years of hurt for Huddersfield League clubs when they face Gomersal in Sunday’s Heavy Woollen Cup final at Spen Victoria (noon).
Ever-presents in the Heavy Woollen Cup, Shepley last reached the final back in 1990 when they lost to Ossett, but came close last year before going out at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Wrenthorpe, who were on their way to a fourth successive Cup triumph.
In fact the last Huddersfield winners of the competition were Elland in 1995, when Denis Midwood captained the Hullen Edge side to victory over Lascelles Hall at Ossett.
The Huddersfield League regularly had sides in the latter stages of the competition, with Slaithwaite, Kirkheaton and Lascelles Hall all lifting what is believed to be the oldest cricket trophy in the game (dating back to 1883).
Indeed, Lascelles Hall were Huddersfield’s first-ever winners in 1891 when Ephraim Lockwood captained them to victory over Ossett at Dewsbury, when gate receipts amounted to £72.
Sadly, since Elland’s 1995 success, Bradford and Yorkshire League sides were admitted into the competition, and that signified the end of Huddersfield success with Spen Victoria, Baildon, Hanging Heaton, Keighley, Woodlands and Barnsley being the other clubs to reach the final stages along with Wrenthorpe.
This year Wrenthorpe, captained by former Yorkshire player Gary Fellowes, were ousted by Delph & Dobcross, who in turn went out to Sunday’s finalists Gomersal, who play in the Bradford League Division I, beaten by a 138-run margin in the quarter-finals.
Skippered by Danny Glover, Shepley can probably now field the best team they have boasted for many years, and will be competing in the first of two back-to-back finals after also reaching the final of the Romida Sykes Cup, where they tackle holders Skelmanthorpe the following Sunday (August 7) at Elland.
With Danny and brother Craig spearheading the bowling attack, and Amar Rashid providing the spin option, Shepley have the ability to bowl out anyone, especially with the addition of SP Singh, who has been used very sparingly this season, considering he finished third in the Premiership averages last year with 56 wickets.
But they are equally strong in the batting line-up, fronted by Tom Denton and Singh, with former Lancashire second teamer Tim Rees coming in first wicket down, along with hard-hitting Liam Wiles and Rashid (brother of Yorkshire spinner Adil).
And they also have plenty of runmakers down the order with Ben Wells, Huw Ellis and Nigel Hoyle all useful as, of course, are the Glovers, who both scored crucial runs in the Sykes Cup victory over Scholes earlier in the year.
Shepley’s great win on the run to the Heavy Woollen final came in the quarters when they knocked out Bradford League leaders Woodlands by three wickets, while they have also landed victories against fellow Drakes League sides Kirkburton, Scholes and Slaithwaite.
Gomersal on the other hand have beaten Liversedge, Spen Victoria and Delph & Dobcross, then grabbed a spot in the final when Greg Pickles smashed the last ball of the match for six to down Hanging Heaton.
Shepley’s team for Sunday is: Danny Glover (capt), Tom Denton, SP Singh, Tim Rees, Liam Wiles, Amar Rashid, Tom Sykes (wkt), Huw Ellis, Nigel Hoyle, Ben Wells, Craig Glover.
12th man: Oliver Huntington.