Padiham looking to get back to where they belong
Padiham skipper Phil Haggerty feels the founder members of the Ribblesdale Cricket League deserve to be back among the big boys following a brief hiatus from the top tier.
Padiham were consigned to life in Section B when finishing at the foot of the Senior League table in 2013, suffering 22 defeats in a largely forgettable season for the club.
And circumstance has prevented Padiham from getting back to where they belong ever since, with everyone and everything conspiring against them.
The club has finished second in successive seasons, but an unsuccessful play-off campaign and a substantial points deduction stunted any progress.
The Arbories outfit find themselves in familiar territory once more, narrowly heading a tight three-horse race for the title, and Haggerty is desperate to get the job done on this occasion.
“It’s probably down to us that we’re in the position that we’re in,” said the captain. “It’s become this interesting because we’ve lost our last two games. We could’ve been home and dry by now, but we’re just concentrating on winning our final games.
“We’ve done brilliantly, especially with the players that we lost over the winter. We’ve finished second and missed out on promotion in our last two seasons as well.
“We’ve done really well to come back from the disappointments of the last two seasons. It shows a lot of character to keep getting up there and challenging.
“We’ve been top all season so it would be a shame if we didn’t go up. We would definitely want to get promoted as champions now.”
He added: “It would be nice to get some silverware in the cabinet. You obviously get promoted finishing second, but nobody remembers the runners up.
“We belong in the top tier. We won six of our first seven games this season against teams from the tier above us. That shows that we can’t only compete with them, but we can beat them.
“You always want to play in the best division. The club is one of the founder members of the league, it has always been challenging, and the club deserves to be up there.”
In paid man Brady Barends’ absence, the club has acquired the services of Rawtenstall’s Andrew Payne as sub professional for Saturday’s game at home to Brinscall.
They have also confirmed the temporary capture of Derbyshire’s Tony Palladino for the potential ‘all or nothing’ clash with rivals Ribblesdale Wanderers at Church Meadow on September 16th.
“Getting sub pros has been the biggest problem,” Haggerty said. “It didn’t help with Brady Barends going because he’s a big part of the team, both around the dressing room and the club.
“You’ve got hundreds of clubs after the same players, but thankfully everything is in place for our remaining games.
“Both our remaining games are very important. Brinscall have been on a bad run but we can’t take them lightly because sooner or later that will have to end.
“We’ve just got to try and treat them like any other game and forget what is at stake.”
Elsewhere, Read will be looking to pounce when second place Whalley take on third place Barnoldswick at Victory Park.
Andrew Rushton will be praying that his players can capitalise on any slips by beating Feniscowles at Whalley Road.
Meanwhile, Lowerhouse’s rescheduled LCB Knockout Cup final against Ormskirk will take place at Blackpool Cricket Club on Sunday.
But first they travel to Birch Hall looking to end Darwen’s title ambitions tomorrow.
Burnley entertain Nelson in the mini-derby at Turf Moor tomorrow before taking on Haslingden at Bentgate in the penultimate fixture of the term on Sunday.