Burnley CC face shoot-out for successive Lancashire League title!
Burnley could become just the fourth club since the turn of the century to retain their Lancashire League title.
Bacup were crowned champions for a third time on the spin in 2002, Accrington made a successful defence in 2009 while rivals Lowerhouse won back-to-back championships in 2012.
But the 16-time winners could be the first club to secure top spot in successive seasons since the new format — comprising two 12-team divisions — came into force.
“It’s gone right down to the wire, yet halfway through the season it didn’t look like we stood any chance,” said skipper Dan Pickup.
“I think that took the pressure off us a little bit and we started to sneak through the pack.
“We took over the top spot with two games remaining and that’s probably the best way to do it. It’s in our hands so we’ve got that peace of mind of just being able to look after ourselves.
“It’s been a crazy season, it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster, top spot has changed hands several times, but now we’re down to a three-horse race.
“We didn’t put any pressure or expectation on ourselves to win it at the start of the season, even though we knew that we had a good chance.”
Victory over title challengers Norden at Turf Moor on Sunday would secure the club’s first league title defence since 1979 when Burnley, under Roland Harrison’s stewardship, pipped Haslingden to the post.
It had, however, seemed a forlorn hope just over a third of the way into the season. Burnley were way off the pace having won half of their opening eight games, but the turnaround has been mightily impressive.
They went top for the first time this term after the penultimate weekend of the campaign and now they hold a three-point advantage over Darwen and Hashum Malik’s men.
Pickup said: “We know that it’s not going to be an easy game by any stretch. It’s always the best way to win it if you can get it over the line on the final day.
“That’s how we won it last time, though on that occasion we could get away with just picking up bonus points.
“Darwen also have a chance. They obviously need a few things to go their way so it’s looking like a straight shoot-out between ourselves and Norden on Sunday. They’re a good side and have had a good season themselves.”
Pickup added: “It adds to the tension and the excitement, even though it’s not good for my stress levels. It shows that the league has been ultra competitive again, which proves that the change in format has paid off.
“There were still five teams in contention going into the penultimate weekend and two games involved those sides. You can’t ask for better than that from an entertainment point of view.
“To come from where we were and win it would make it even more special. It would be a phenomenal achievement if we can get it over the line.
“We’ve worked incredibly hard to get ourselves into this position and defending our title would be the ultimate reward. It would be brilliant to end the season with silverware.”
l Burnley ended Walsden’s title charge with a 40-run win at Scott Street to stay in command in Division One.
Bharat Tripathi (4-49) and Chris Holt (4-37) helped bowl Walsden out for 180 after Burnley had made 220.