HISTORY will count for nothing tomorrow when two of the Drakes League’s most talented sides go head-to-head for a place in the Romida Sykes Cup final.
Premiership leaders Golcar travel to high-riding Delph & Dobcross (1.30) with both clubs at full strength and supporters set for a tense and enthralling contest.
Neither Golcar nor Delph have ever lifted the famous old trophy – a record they are both keen to put right – but that will be a long way from the thoughts of rival captains Grant Jones (Delph) and Ashley Pamment (Golcar) when they toss the coin.
“You’ve got to live in the present and that means focusing on the game in front of us,” said Pamment, a skilful tactician who led Scholes to Byrom Shield glory in 2001 and who has cup winners’ medals both with them and Lascelles Hall.
“It would be great for everyone involved at Golcar if we could win something this season (they haven’t won the title since 1944), but there is no way you can go around making predictions.
“We’ve got a good team unit and, when needed, people should be able to step up to the plate because confidence is high on the back of a good season so far.
“Delph have got quality throughout their line-up as well, though, so the semi will come down to who turns up and performs on the day.
“We’ve both got strength in depth and respect for each other.
“It is sure to be tense – I’ve played in enough semi-finals now to know all about that – so it will come down to doing the job in hand.
“What has happened between the clubs this season will count for nothing, this is a totally different scenario to the Premiership or Examiner Twenty/20.”
Honours are even on that score, with Golcar winning a nail-biting league clash between the two only two weeks ago, when Pamment and Craig Ruscoe shared a match-winning late stand, and Delph triumphing in midweek at Swallow Lane in the Twenty/20 Trophy.
Jones, who piloted Delph to the title five years ago but has yet to get his hands on the Sykes silverware, says his side are quietly confident but recognise they have to produce the goods.
“We’ve lost a couple of games recently but the wheels have certainly not fallen off,” said Jones.
“We let the matches against Golcar and Honley get away from us when we looked to have both in the bag, but we feel we are as good as anyone in the league on our day, especially at home.
“We’ll have a good following and, while Golcar play on a similar surface to us, we know exactly how ours plays and hopefully that will be to our advantage.
“Golcar are a good side with three outstanding players and some decent back-up and are going well at the top of the table, but we’ve always felt that if you get stuck into the top four you can make inroads.
“That’s what we’ll be aiming to do and it should be a good game. In fact, when you look at the other semi between Barkisland and Elland, there are four strong teams left in the competition.”
Jones believes Lancashire’s Kyle Hogg could be their key man.
“The biggest disappointment of this season has been Kyle with the bat, because he’s got four ducks and not really come off – but somebody is going to pay for that,” he said.
“It’s not just down to him because we feel we bat as deep as anyone in the league, but he is a match-winner. I suppose there are match-winners on both sides, to be fair, so it’s down to who performs on the day.”
Golcar have excellent all-round experience from Steve Whitwam, although many eyes will be on Australian import Tim Welsford after his impressive displays.
Captain of his club Carlton, in Melbourne, he has admirably filled the boots of Jeremy Brown at Swallow Lane and Pamment acknowledges his impact.
“Tim is a captain’s dream, really,” said Pamment. “He has bowled about five bad balls all season – I’m not exaggerating – and he is expert at waiting for people to make mistakes.
“I stand at first slip and he’s got a sort of Glenn McGrath-syle accuracy, so when you put him on to bowl you know exactly what you’re going to get and how to set your field.
“He can bat well, too, as he showed with that century off 17 overs in the Twenty/20 against Elland – and that was at Hullen Edge, where you are normally chipping away for twos but he was clearing the boundary.
“If he gets ‘in’ at Delph then it won’t be big enough for him, but then Delph have got people in their side like Kyle Hogg who can hit a long ball, so it’s all down to who plays best on the day.”
Pamment stresses it’s been a real team effort at Golcar this season.
“Jack (Craig Horner) was awesome in the early part of the season, setting off like a house on fire, and then Tim (Welsford) and Cobber (Steve Whitwam) weighed in with valuable contributions from all the other lads at different times,” he explained.
“People down the order and our back-up bowling have all done their bit when we’ve needed them and, if it comes to it against Delph, nobody will be going in ‘cold’.
“Yes, we’ve got some major players, but everyone has spent time in the middle or turned their arm over and they’ll be ready to do whatever is necessary should they be required.”