The term legend is one branded about far too frequently, but for Lowerhouse’s former captain Matt Hope it fits perfectly.
Club stalwart Hope led the West Enders to their 2004 Worsley Cup triumph - ending a 113-year wait for their first piece of silverwere.
That win helped inspire the club to win the league the following season, and the current crop have the chance to add a second league title to the trophy cabinet, as they prepare to take on their nearerst rivals.
Last Sunday’s thrashing of bottom club Colne has meant that, providing they have no slip-ups this weekend against Accrington and Ramsbottom, second and third respectively, the club will be all but guaranteed their third major trophy.
Former skipper Hope is confident they can finish the job this weekend, and believes it will be a huge achievement: “I am hopeful and confident the lads can get over the line as they’ve been playing great all year and winning comprehensively.
“No-one can take away the achievement of winning the first piece of silverware for the club, but personally I believe that if the team win the league this year, it will be a bigger triumph.
“At the start of the season everybody was writing us off, but credit to the talented young lads who have come in and played brilliantly.”
The bails came off Matt’s career in 2007, but he believes the Worsley Cup win has been a pivotal factor in changing the clubs fortunes. “I’ve been at the club since I was a young lad, and there has certainly been a change of emphasis since our triumph in 2004.
“They are a tight-knit and confident group now, and winning has become a habit. Before our victory, any tight games we played in, we would lose. Since getting that monkey off our backs the club has grown in stature and we are now able to compete reguarly at the top end of the table.”
A modest man, Hope refuses to take individual credit for the club’s rise, and attributes the success down to the community spirit in the club, and in particuar the enthusiasm of chairman Stan Heaton. “Stan does a lot of unthanked work, but his work with the juniors is beginning to pay dividence.
“He doesn’t just bat the kids lower down the order, he throws them in at the deep end and that’s how they learn.
“The team now is very young but very mature, and the great thing is, even with injuries and suspensions, there are plenty of other talented youngsters to step into the team.”
Still a keen follower of the club’s games, Hope is particuarly pleased with seeing the amateur players, still there from his days, fulfilling their potential.
“It’s been nice to see them grow as players and get the success they deserve for working hard. There is a feel good factor around the place at the moment, and I believe the team will only get better, and fingers crossed they could dominate for years to come.”