The All Rounder Bradford Premier League gets underway this weekend, with its new four-tier format providing additional interest to the ongoing classic clashes of the titans and the intrigue of the new ground-breaking encounters involving league newcomers.
In the Premier Division this week we have Hanging Heaton, last year’s runners-up, at home to newly promoted Townville while Batley, the other promoted club, are at home for a first-ever clash with a Farsley side playing its 105th year of Bradford League cricket. It promises to be baptisms of fire all round for the Premier Division newcomers.
It will be a stiff test for Hanging Heaton’s one-time Spen Victoria player Callum Geldart, who has arrived at Bennett Lane from Pudsey Congs, having been labelled by some as the winter’s ‘biggest transfer’.
Champions Pudsey St Lawrence are at home to Bradford and Bingley while Cleckheaton kick off with a home match against New Farnley, Woodlands go to Pudsey Congs and East Bierley are at home to Lightcliffe.
Overseas players registered in this division with our clubs are Pakistan’s Qasir Ashraf at Cleckheaton and Muhammed Rameez at Hanging Heaton, while in the new Championship One relegated Scholes have recruited Akbar Badshah and Ossett have Khalid Usman – who are also both from Pakistan.
Ossett open their new campaign with a tough game at Methley while Scholes open with an interesting Spen Valley derby clash at Gomersal and Birstall have a testing opener at home to their former Central Yorkshire nemesis opponents, Wrenthorpe.
Championship Two is new ground in the Bradford League’s long history and our district’s clubs have not been idle in their recruitment efforts since the end of last season.
Jordan Graven, from South Africa, is one of four new signings likely to be in the side for the opener at Keighley, and though Spen Victoria don’t have an overseas player this season they have offered a chance for Heckmondwike’s Chris Allen and Gomersal second teamer Sam Wilby to step up a level.
Spen start with a trip to Hunslet Nelson while a much-strengthened Hartshead Moor go to Brighouse, and Liversedge, who look like being without a hoped for overseas signing for their opener, are at home to Carlton.
In a newly-expanded Conference, now a division of 14 teams, Crossbank Methodists and former Huddersfield Central League rivals, Heckmondwike and Carlinghow, meet on the opening day of the new season at The Rumbolds, Birstall.
Crossbank have added South African Paul Sauer to their squad this season, along with Alex Drake and Adam Holroyd from Birstall, and Imram Mayat from Altofts while Heckmondwike have had Nazakat Hussain come in from Scarcroft and Haseeb Hasmi from Gildersome.
Both sides have lost bowlers in the close season with Rueben Shuttleworth leaving Crossbank for Hartshead Moor in Championshiop Two and Allen from Heckmondwike to Spen.
Sunday also sees the start of the historic Heavy Woollen Cup tournament with 31 teams in first round action and a bye for Kirkburton. The tie of the round is undoubtedly at Bennett Lane where Hanging Heaton take on old rivals Spen Victoria with an unprecedented two division gap between them.
Scholes against Buttershaw St Pauls at New Popplewell Lane and Gomersal at home to Morley are both interesting pairings while other ties involving the district’s sides are: Huddersfield League side Scholes v Mirfield Parish Cavaliers; Moorlands v Slaithwaite; Skelmanthorpe v Birstall; Whitley Hall v Ossett; Hoylandswaine v East Bierley; Woodlands v Yeadon and Crossbank v Raistrick.