A war of words has erupted between the town’s cricketing protagonists as rivals Burnley and Lowerhouse do battle this weekend.
With both clubs having secured silverware this term, the verbal onslaught has unraveled as the pair will now fight for the leading role in the Fosters Lancashire League.
Accrington may already have usurped the West Enders as champions, but the race for second spot remains intriguingly poised.
Worsley Cup winners Burnley registered their 11th win in 15 league outings when thrashing Ramsbottom by 104 runs at Turf Moor. Meanwhile, Lowerhouse’s defeat at Thorneyholme Road means just two points split the duo who sandwich Jon Fielding’s side.
For Burnley skipper Bharat Tripathi the rivalry has stemmed from junior competitions where representatives of opposite sides evolved through the ranks of their respective clubs at the same time.
“It was another fantastic win for us against Ramsbottom,” he said. “We are right in the mix now for a runner-up finish. This weekend’s game is massive. We play Nelson on Saturday and then the big derby is on Sunday. We are already eagerly anticipating it.
“It would mark a great season if we can add a second place finish to our Worsley Cup win, especially when that would mean that we’ve finished above Lowerhouse. It could prove to be one of the best seasons the club has had in some time.
“We won’t be taking too much satisfaction from that though because we want to achieve more. We know we’re capable and I think that shows real intent and ambition from the club.”
Tripathi added: “It’s very close at the top of the league aside from Accrington who have won it. The result against ‘House could prove the difference between finishing second and above them or finishing fifth or sixth and below them. It’s a huge game. We’ve crept up the league and hopefully we can go one step further and finish above Lowerhouse.
“The rivalry is huge and it’s definitely the biggest in the league. We’re quite similar and we’ve been fighting against this crop of players for a number of years. It’s developed from junior level to senior level and has kept on growing. We are confident and we want to finish above them.”
Meanwhile Liverpool Road paid man Francois Haasbroek may only be in his third season with the club, but he fully acknowledges the importance of the derby and what’s at stake.
The South-African, who celebrates his 26th birthday on Monday, will be hoping for the perfect gift when the sides go head-to-head at the Neville Gee (Recruitment) Ground on Sunday, with a scheduled start of 1 p.m.
Despite surrendering the title and the domestic cup, Hassbroek believes a runner-up finish would mark an impressive season following their first capture of the Twenty20 trophy.
“With the way the season has gone, if we can finish runners up it won’t be too bad,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to finish below Burnley though. Winning the Twenty20 for the first time is great for the club and we just need this second place finish to keep the momentum going ahead of next year. It would be quite demoralising to finish third or fourth. Finishing second would give us something to build on.
“I’ve settled in very well at Lowerhouse. I certainly know what the clash is all about now. I’ve been here for three seasons, I’m a part of the club, so the rivalry has grown very intense now. There isn’t a rivalry in the league as fierce as Lowerhouse and Burnley.”
Haasbroek added: “We won two trophies the previous year but you can’t win the double every year. We’ve learnt a lot from this year and we shouldn’t get carried away about not retaining those trophies. We believe we can get that second spot.
“It’s not been a bad season at all. We’ve reached the semi-final of the Worsley Cup and won the Twenty20 so beating Burnley and finishing second would top it off. Not so long ago the club hadn’t won anything so we’ve achieved a lot as a team.”
Burnley travel to Seedhill to take on Nelson tomorrow in the mini-derby while Lowerhouse host Colne. Both fixtures start at 1 p.m.