PLAUDITS may have been bestowed upon Farsley for their renaissance in Bradford League fortunes over the past few years – but now is the time for some silverware to arrive at Red Lane.
That’s the verdict of stalwart Mark Harrison, mindful that the Rams need to push that extra mile in 2018 and follow up two strong and encouraging campaigns with an addition to the trophy cabinet come September.
The early signs this term are positive, courtesy of victories over East Bierley and Townville, which has seen new overseas man Pat Kruger make an immediate impact, with a trip to promoted Scholes next up tomorrow.
But, with due respect to those sides, stiffer tests will arrive against the divisional big guns in the weeks and months ahead, something Farsley know full well with the campaign only being in its infancy.
And things are likely to crank up a notch later on this month, with Farsley hosting champions Hanging Heaton and making the trip to New Farsley before welcoming near-neighbours Pudsey St Lawrence in tests which will provide a true barometer of their early-season progress.
Harrison said: “The last few years have been good ones, but we have nothing to show for it in the cabinet. We want to go farther, really. We did not play well in our opening game and it was like a bit of a warm-up for us.
“But I really think if we can get some type of rhythm and a game plan and make sure everything is done right, I do think we will challenge most teams. But we want to be aiming higher this season.”
To do that successfully, Farsley must hold their nerve in some key battles against the Bradford Premier League heavyweights during the season, as Harrison is the first to acknowledge.
That means pushing for victories at tough venues such as Bennett Lane and Tofts Road against the likes of Heaton and St Lawrence, with Farsley anxious not to be known as the ‘bridesmaids’ when it comes to league and cup honours when the prizes are handed out towards the business end of the season. Harrison added: “We weren’t far off last year. But we need to be a bit more aggressive and positive in the way we go about taking on the bigger teams because that has kind of been our downfall.
“We know we have got a lot of quality, but know that when we come up against the big sides, we need our players to stand up and show they want to do it. You have to win those momennts in those key battles against good players.
“I also think we will improve our fielding this year and those little margins will make a difference with us. In the last few years, we have beaten the likes of St Lawrence and Hanging Heaton at home. But we have gone away and not performed well on their patch.
“If we can go away from home and beat teams, I think we will take a lot of confidence from that.”
PUDSEY ST LAWRENCE may finally be returning home tomorrow – but they are still very much venturing into the unknown.
Saints will lock horns with Woodlands in their first ECB Bradford Premier League game of the season at Tofts Road tomorrow – after requesting to play their first few league fixtures of 2018 away from home to allow time to fully prepare their newly-relaid square for the season.
Preparations were hampered by some poor weather in late winter and early spring, with the recent better conditions being timely for Saints officials who have been busily getting the surface ready for the belated league home opener.
Captain Chris Marsden is the first to admit that he is not entirely sure how it will play first up and actually believes that Woodlands may have an advantage after having previous experience of learning how to play on a re-laid square after doing the same thing at their Albert Terrace home a few years back.
Marsden said: “We are looking forward to it as it is pretty much an unknown for us as it is for them.
“They probably know a little bit more about how to play on a re-laid square after obviously having their square down a couple of years ago.
“Hopefully the weather can stay dry.
“If we keep having bad weather, then it will cause all clubs a problem – never mind just us, who have had a brand new square relaid.
“But the contractors are confident and we have a wealth of volunteers at the club who are chipping in. It is something to look forward to and we just hope that the weather stays dry for us.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, two sides boasting 100 per cent records along with St Lawrence and Farsley have home advantage.
Champions Hanging Heaton welcome Townville, while Methley will entertain Cleckheaton.
New Farnley have a home appointment with East Bierley, while Bradford & Bingley host Lightcliffe.
In Championship One, Pudsey Congs visit Batley and Yeadon host Gomersal and Wrenthorpe entertain Ossett.
Morley go to Baildon and Hunslet Nelson host Undercliffe.