JUST four weeks from now the All Rounder Cricket Bradford Premier League opens its 115th season with its first-ever four-tier system.
The split second tier ‘Championship’ division of last season has now become ‘Championship One’ and ‘Championship Two’, with the Premier Division above them and the Conference below.
Local clubs who are playing Premier Division cricket this coming season are Batley, Hanging Heaton and Cleckheaton while Woodlands (Oakenshaw) and East Bierley are the other Kirklees representatives in the top 12.
It will be interesting to see how Batley fare in the top flight, in only their second season in the League, when it doesn’t seem that long ago that they were languishing in the second tier of the Central Yorkshire League.
Hanging Heaton will no doubt be desperate to get back in action and mount their bid to go one better than last season when they missed out on the title, just four points behind champions Pudsey St Lawrence.
In Championship One we have Birstall, Gomersal and Ossett, with Scholes and Morley on the peripheries, while in Championship Two there is Hopton Mills, Spen Victoria and Liversedge with Hartshead Moor coming into the equation as another peripheral district.
Former Central Yorkshire League sides Hopton Mills and Liversedge were clearly finding their feet last season, but the fall from the top two divisions is a blow to a Spen Victoria side who find themselves in totally new surroundings after 85 years of life in the First or Second Divisions.
It is a far cry from Spen Vic’s First Division championship win of 1944, the four Second Division titles and no fewer than seven Priestley Cup final appearances (three as winners) since they joined the League in 1931 and it promises to be a long climb back to the top for the Spen Lane side.
In the Conference there are 14 teams with Birstall-based Crossbank Methodists, Heckmondwike, Carlinghow, and neighbouring Adwalton and Gildersome with any connection to the district.
The season will start the weekend after Easter, on Saturday April 22, with the opening 25 league fixtures and 15 Heavy Woollen Cup First Round ties (plus one bye) taking place the following day.