Lowerhouse coach Paul Stansfield believes winning Sunday’s derby with Burnley at Turf Moor would be a fitting tribute to club stalwart Geoff Hope who died this week.
The popular father of former players Jez, Nick and Matt was affectionately known at Liverpool Road as “Bomber” and served the club loyally in a number of capacities. He passed away peacefully on Monday night after a long battle with ill health.
“I’ve known him personally for about 20 years,” Stansfield said. “He was one of the first junior coaches at the club and went on to become groundsman. He was a unique individual who had his own way of doing and saying things. That was what made him the brilliant character that he was. We will all miss him.”
Stansfield added: “It would be a nice touch to win that derby for him on Sunday. He is synonymous with Lowerhouse Cricket Club. He is one of the reasons why we are still here today. He dragged us through the hard years.”
The West Enders host East Lancs tomorrow in what could prove to be a battle of the pros. Visiting paid man Ockert Erasmus and ‘House professional Francois Haasbroek may be close friends off the field but they’ll be at loggerheads come 1 p.m.
“Both professionals will be out to get one over on each other,” said Stansfield. “They are good friends and it becomes somewhat of a private battle so it should be interesting.”
And on Sunday’s derby, Stansfield added: “It’s going to be a good game. We’re just hoping for good weather, a good wicket, a big crowd and most importantly a win.
“I’d imagine they’ll prepare a wicket to suit their spin attack of Adnan Rasool and Bharat Tripathi. They’ll want to make the most of home advantage.
“It sets the season up well, but derbies are never nice if you lose. There’s 22 very good players out there and individually they are some of the best in the league. It will be competitive and we always look forward to playing Burnley.”
Meanwhile, Tripathi’s side will prepare for the fierce rivallry with a trip to Centre Vale to face Todmorden tomorrow.
Burnley started the season with a comprehensive victory over Church but were denied the opportunity to build on that due to the weekend washout at Rishton at Blackburn Road.
Elsewhere, the response of his players following an opening day defeat has pleased Read skipper Kyle O’Connor.
In a season where the Whalley Road club will be looking to cast off the shackles of a perennial ‘runner-up’ tag, they endured the worst possible start as they slipped to defeat to Settle.
But O’Connor’s men responded in impeccable fashion as they eased past Salesbury, Whalley and Cherry Tree since to get their title charge back on track.
“The players have reacted well after that opening day defeat,” O’Connor said. “It was the response we needed and we haven’t looked back since. Our recent performances tell me that we’ll be challenging again. ”
It was a routine victory over Cherry Tree at the weekend, though Read won the fixture with sheer magnificence on home soil. Professional Mohammed Jamal crushed the visitors as his unbeaten 134 was the mainstay of the home side’s 300-5 tally. Jamal’s individual knock was a solitary run less than the visitors’ entire innings in their reply. O’Connor opened with 40 alongside Joe Marshall who added 26 while Conor Lowes contributed a half-century further down the order.
“It was a comfortable victory for us in the end,” he said. “Everything is coming together now and every member of the squad is performing. Jamal was brilliant at the weekend and everyone else chipped in around him.
Read will be looking to jump in to pole position over double-header weekend as they face Ribblesdale Wanderers at Church Meadow and Euxton at Balshaw Park respectively.
After breaking his finger against Baxenden, Padiham skipper Callum Clarke will watch from the sidelines as his side take on Edenfield at the Arbories tomorrow and Ribblesdale Wanderers on home soil on Sunday, both 1-30 p.m. starts.