WHEN Batley won promotion to the Bradford League Premier Division three years ago, there were some who argued it was by default.
Certainly, the formation of Championships A and B, following the amalgamation with the Central Yorkshire League, did leave the two supposedly equal divisions having a disproportionate look in terms of strength and, as Championship A title winners, there were many who suggested they had been given an easier ride.
The subsequent failure to hold on to a place in the top flight suggested that this may have been the case but the way they have surged to the top of Championship One this season has doubtless been on merit.
Faced with competition from the likes of established clubs like Bankfoot, Morley, Baildon and Pudsey Congs, they have proved every bit as strong as any other side in the division.
Last week’s emphatic 75-run win over Congs has doubtless put them in good heart for tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) visit of fourth-placed Baildon to Mount Pleasant.
Defending a modest total of 152 against the former Premier Division giants from Pudsey, there looked to be a tough task ahead, but the vastly experienced Muhammed Shahnawaz made light of the problem with a fine 5-32 return in 15 overs to help bowl out the visitors for just 77.
Batley’s success has overshadowed their local rivals with bottom club Scholes facing a trip to Bankfoot tomorrow while Pudsey Congs, in fifth place, Hartshead Moor, Gomersal, Ossett, East Bierley and Keighley are separated by just 14 points ahead of some crucial contests this week.
Hartshead Moor go to Keighley, Gomersal and Ossett meet at Oxford Road, while East Bierley are at home to Congs. The table could well have a very different look about it come Saturday night.
Though still 24 points adrift of leaders Carlton, the current form of Birstall sees them in second place and holding off the challenge of third-placed Yeadon thanks to a vital four-wicket win over the Wharfedale side in a low-scoring game at the White Swan Ground last week.
Next up for Birstall is a visit from East Ardsley to Leeds Road while Yeadon go to Buttershaw St Pauls and Carlton look set for another points haul at relegation-threatened Adwalton.
Second-bottom Liversedge are facing the drop into the Conference with Adwalton unless they can pick up some points soon.
They are currently 24 points adrift of the third-bottom spot, with Hunslet Nelson next up at Roberttown Lane, while Spen Victoria and Hopton Mills clash at Hopton tomorrow with both sides looking a safe bet for a mid-table finish.
In the Conference, Crossbank Methodists and Heckmondwike and Carlinghow occupy the bottom two places and, with at least 40 points to make up on third-bottom Windhill, even wins at home to Sandal and at Great Preston respectively look unlikely to change their situation to any great degree.