Supporters at Golcar have had precious little to cheer this season, but skipper Steve Whitwam and his side are hoping to put that right on Sunday.

The Swallow Lane men host Drakes champions Shepley in a semi-final of the arrowselfdrive Sykes Cup (1.00) which could prove truly intriguing.

The odds would seem heavily stacked in favour of Danny Glover’s Shepley, who are top of the Drakes Premiership going into Saturday’s trip to Barkisland and who are looking for a fourth successive appearance in the league’s showpiece final on Sunday, August 10.

But Golcar were semi-finalists last season, losing to eventual winners Hoylandswaine, and while they are fourth from bottom of the top flight ahead of Saturday’s clash with Slaithwaite at Hill Top, Whitwam believes they are full of motivation to repeat the club’s Cup success of five years ago.

“We are obviously hoping to go one better than last season and the Cup is a massive thing for us,” said Whitwam, the league’s premier all-rounder for much of the last decade but who admits to falling short of his own standards this time.

“At the start of the season we said we’d try and finish as high as we could in the league and give it everything we could in the Cup, because you never know what can happen in the Sykes Cup.

“We’ve been fairly lucky with the draws we’ve had up to press and we are happy with a home draw in the semi-finals, so we are looking forward to the day.

“Shepley have got a very good side, they are a good bunch of lads who play for each other and for Danny, and it’s always a good battle when we meet them.

“We’ve had some close games against them over the last few years and we’ve probably beaten them more than they have beaten us, so the lads are hoping to keep that going.

“There will be a good atmosphere. Last year Hoylandswaine hammered us in a very disappointing outcome, so we are looking to turn that around and give our supporters something to cheer.”

Shepley are understood to be losing former Town striker Tom Denton on Saturdays before long due to his football commitments – he has signed for North Ferriby – but he is available on Sunday. Craig Glover hasn’t played for the last few weeks but Shepley have been blessed with the import of Brisbane-based Duncan Allan, the Kenya international who has rattled up 418 runs and helped compensate for Glover’s loss with the ball, taking 25 wickets at 16.92.

Golcar bowler Craig Ruscoe
Golcar bowler Craig Ruscoe

Golcar have run power at the top of the order from Niall Lockley – scorer of a spectacular T20 hundred against Elland last week and now up to the 400 mark in league and cup – and while Whitwam is unhappy with his own form, he’s still got 348 runs at 34.80 to add to 18 wickets at 21.06.

Will Hinchliffe and Andy Alsop, with 30 and 20 wickets respectively, are no mean opening combination with the ball, while the batting order at Swallow Lane includes the dangerous Craig Ruscoe, James Howson, Jake Lockwood and the all-round talent of Jack Hargreaves.

“We are disappointed with where we are in the league and we’re not as far up as we would have hoped, but I’ve not fired yet with the bat other than a couple of 50s and, on the back of me not doing the business the rest of the lads have found form inconsistent as well,” said Whitwam.

“I don’t know whether that’s a reflection on me or what, but it’s been difficult because we’ve never really got started.

“We have not got an overseas pro, which was always the plan because we wanted to consolidate and save a bit of money, and we’ve had four games rained off which never helps – but I still feel we will climb the table and finish in the middle because we have a lot of talent in our team, they are 11 first-team cricketers and there’s still half a season to go.

“Sloppy (Alsop) and Will (Hinchliffe) have bowled pretty well for us, but the batting has struggled to get going and that’s something we are looking to pick up as we go on.

“It’s very close in the table because everyone seems capable of beating everyone else. Sheplay and Hoylandswaine will probably end up scrapping it out between themselves again, but for the rest of us it’s all pretty even.”

So what about tomorrow?

“We’re looking forward to it,” answered Whitwam.

“We don’t know whether Craig Glover will be playing or them and, if he isn’t, he will obviously be a massive loss for them. I rate him as one of the best bowlers in the league because he is very consistent and, if he’s not playing, then that will be fantastic for us.

“But they main thing for us is to concentrate on producing our best form. The fact we’ve got 11 first-team quality cricketers is shown by the fact that Will bats at No11, and he can hold a bat, regularly getting us the point, and we go into the contest knowing we have some match-winners among us.

“If we can give our supporters something to cheer at the end of the day then that will be brilliant, and if we can have a cup final to look forward to it will give us something to build our second half of the season around.”

Golcar bowler Will Hinchliffe.
Golcar bowler Will Hinchliffe.
 

Click here to take you back to more Sports news.

Want to read, watch and hear more? You can download the FREE Examiner Apple App here, the FREE Examiner Android App here or you can view the paper as an e-edition on your Apple, Android or Kindle device by clicking here

To follow us on Twitter click here