OLD Boltonians’ chances of being crowned Premier Division champions look to be at and end, as the Lancashire Amateur League have postponed all matches for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The league’s announcement on Monday night, following advice from the Lancashire FA, means the season may never be played out to its conclusion.

And though Old Bolts strengthened their grip on top spot with Saturday’s victory against Old Mancunians, manager Steve Eccleshare is taking a philosophical view, believing that people’s health and safety needs to take priority.

“We had a really good win on Saturday beating Old Mancs 2-0, but unfortunately the situation with the league is that they’ve told us there won’t be any matches until further notice,” said the league leaders’ manager.

“I think that’ll be it for the season, we can’t train either because we won’t be insured to so it’s a tough one but other, more important, things have to be considered.

“I’ve already put my boots away for the summer, it doesn’t bother me too much. If it means that people are alive and well then that puts things into perspective. If it is the end of the season then we’ve had 20 games, won a lot of them and that’s given myself and the team a lot of good Saturday nights. I’ll take that.

“People’s safety is more important so if it means we don’t finish the season but everyone gets through it okay I’m okay with it.”

The latest of those wins was Saturday’s victory at Old Mancunians, with captain Dave Warburton marking his 40th birthday with an assist for the first goal, headed home by Jamie Darby, and scoring the second.

But Old Bolts’ hero was goalkeeper Matt Hamnett, who used numerous parts of his body to keep a clean sheet against a side that averaged more than two goals per game.

“Warby enjoyed his birthday,” said Eccleshare. “He scored one and set up the other but Matty was great in net, he made some great saves, he took one right in the face as well. When your goalkeeper’s doing that you have to give him man of the match.

“Old Mancs had their chances, it’s always going to be tough against them, but after we weathered the storm going into the wind in the first half we got the goals and managed to hold them out, thanks to Matty putting his body on the line.”

Victory kept Eccleshare’s side a point clear of Failsworth Dynamos, 6-2 winners at home to Little Lever, with each having five games to go.

But with no play possible in the near future, he feels trying to complete the season, whenever that could be, would be a further risk to players, particularly given bottom team Thornleigh still having half their season to play.

With a long lay-off for players to be followed by two, perhaps more, games each week to complete the fixtures, Eccleshare is holding out little hope that the 2019/20 campaign will see a conclusion.

“We’ve managed to get a lot of games in but some teams are way behind us in terms of how many they’ve played,” he added. “It’s been a good season – us, Failsworth, Mostonians and Whitworth Valley are the current top four, so I’d rather just look at it, say the top four teams have all had great seasons, shake hands and start the season over again whenever it’s possible.

“Arguably it’s the memories you have from over the course of a season that you’ll take with you and we’ve had some really good times this season. Even when results have gone against us we’ve looked to bounce back, and have done in the main. It’s all part of it, it’s been enjoyable.

“It’s a job in itself being the manager of a team. People ask me at the end of every season if I’ll be back doing it the next season -– I’ve only just got the hang of it now, so why would I stop?”