Cleckheaton on the brink of securing historic title

Cleckheaton's James Wilson scoring one of his 14 tries, which sees him third in the league's scoring charts.
Cleckheaton's James Wilson scoring one of his 14 tries, which sees him third in the league's scoring charts.

Cleckheaton make the long trip to Alnwick tomorrow knowing they could be just five wins away from celebrating a first league title in 14 years.

The Moorenders are 14 points clear at the top of North One East and go in search of a 10th straight league victory when they make the 300-mile round trip to face lowly Alnwick.

Cleckheaton last won a league title in 1999, when former British Lion John Bentley was at the helm, while the club clinched promotion to the National Leagues the following season.

Chairman Neil Gillan was a member of that squad and recalled: “We almost went the whole season unbeaten in 99 under Bentos but having already clinched the league title, we eased off and ended up losing our last two matches.

“We are not counting any chickens yet and although we have one hand on the title we have to finish the job off.”

Cleckheaton are approaching a crucial spell as they host Wheatley Hills on January 25 before meeting title rivals West Hartlepool and Huddersfield YMCA in consecutive Saturdays in early February.

Club officials have had the calculators out and believe that victory in their next two fixtures, followed by wins away to Hartlepool and home to YMCA would put them on the brink of clinching top spot.

The majority of this season’s squad have come through Cleckheaton’s junior ranks and even New Zealander Rob Afoa Peterson lives in Gomersal.

The Moorenders have scored 523 points already this season, including 78 tries.

Captain Richard Piper is the division’s leading try scorer with 22 but Cleck players also occupy the next two places.

Ross Hayden has 15 tries, together with 50 conversions and 10 penalties making him the league’s leading points scorer, while James Wilson has crossed 14 times.