Time to look forward to the new League season with first of all a preview of the Veterans League 6-man teams and divisions (that's what they are calling them now, a step up from 'Sections' as they have been for the last 51 years).
So this is a quick preview of the chances of the major contenders at the top and bottom of each of the 3 divisions and this also doubles up as a guide to your Fantasy league entries. The tables below show the finishing positions for teams in each division, add in the promotions and relegations and new teams for a mixture from which to select your favoured teams for the coming season.
If on reading this you are now ready to select your Fantasy League team then all you need to do to be in contention for the £200 Well Bowled vouchers is follow this link to the entry form. Then pick one team from each of the eight divisions of the Veterans League and watch all the points they win getting added to your score. Most points each month wins the end of season £50 Well Bowled voucher prize and we also have monthly £20 vouchers to be won as well.
Withdrawn from League:
Promoted from Division 2
Honley Con & Golcar C&BC
Lockwood Con & Linthwaite Hall
DIVISION 1 The 2022 season looks like being the tightest title race for some while with at least 6 strong contenders as I see it. The top 3 from last season plus the 2 promoted teams and at least one of the 2 new teams.
The 2021 title race went down to the final week of the season and saw Shepley A prevail. They are clearly a team on the upward path having finished 3rd in 2019 behind Netherton Con who dropped to runners-up. Thongsbridge had a strong second half of last season and will be aiming to continue that form into 2022.
Netherton Con have finished in the top two for the past 3 seasons, winning it twice, and will not relinquish their standing without a fight. Similar for Thongsbridge B who have been on an improving line of finishes for a while now and will be looking to remain in the title chase again this year.
There are two strong teams coming up as Honley Con and Golcar C&BC romped away in Division 2 last year to finish level on points with only a 33 aggregate difference (1499-1466) between them. Both look stronger than any of the teams that finished in the bottom half of Division 1 last year so a top-half finish beckons.
However we have two new teams to the League that have been placed in the top division based on the strength of their teams. Lockwood Con need no introduction to the League having won the Division 1 title twice in the last 10 years and their return is welcomed. The Linthwaite Hall side is new to the League and are an unknown element at this level so could be one of those that you introduce to your team during the season.
Longwood have a proud history in this competition being Division 1 Champions 3 times in the last 7 years and may be galvanised by the threat of relegation last year and the return of old adversaries Lockwood Con to mount another battle for top spot.
A dark horse could be the Crosland Moor team who having lost their 10-man team for the coming season may decide to prop up their 6-man side to provide even more competition into what already looks like a very difficult division to win in 2022.
Promoted from Division 3:
Slaithwaite and Holmfirth A
Relegated from Division 1:
New Mill & Lindley Lib B
The runaway 2021 winners of the Division 3 title were Slaithwaite losing only one of their 16 matches so enter this higher level with some confidence and I can see them heavily involved in the top two this season. Skel Windmill B were the best of the Division 2 also-rans last year and will fancy their chances devoid of any other strong contenders.
Having said that the new addition to the League of the New Mill team could be involved in matters at the top end of the table but will be wary of the 14-match rule that could deprive them of their better bowlers later in the season. Lindley Lib have also entered a new B team for 2022 so another unknown factor to paste into your thinking. It's not easy is it?
I may be too dismissive of Hemplow's chances who come up from Division 3 after chasing Slaithwaite all season but clearly the pick of the rest of the teams in that division so more deserving of respect and may well be the dark horse of all the contenders.
The Marsh United team consolidated their Division 2 position after promotion in 2019 and may be ready to make the next step upwards with interest in the club in the 6-Man League obviously on the increase with a B side also entered this season and starting out life in Division 3.
Relegated from Division 2:
Golcar Lib & Primrose Hill Lib
Greenhead Park & Marsh United B
With 11 teams in Division 3 this year it is going to be a more rigid test of stamina than in recent seasons and it looks very difficult to separate any of the teams.
Hemplow and Almondbury Lib followed the two promoted teams home last year, well clear of the rest of the table and will fancy their chances of going one further this time around.
It is good to see Greenhead Park back in the 6-Man League and they have benefited from an influx of bowlers from the Oakfield T&BC who played in Division 1 last year but cannot raise a full team this year. If that Division 1 experience pays off then they could be among the title chasers.
Of the two teams relegated from Division 2 Golcar Lib look the stronger but will they be strong enough to mount a title challenge remains to be seen?
Marsh United add a B side to their ranks and it will be interesting to see the mix of bowlers between their two teams and with it their chances of success in both divisions.
Ready to submit your Fantasy League entry? Follow this link
The Veterans 10-Man League preview coming soon.