BRADSHAW skipper Brett Ernst is targeting silverware in the Bolton Cricket League’s landmark cup competition for one final time on Sunday.

The Rigbys outfit are swapping the BCL for the Greater Manchester Cricket League next year after voting to switch in 2018, though too late for this season.

Now they have a chance to end their association with the local league in style as they attempt to clinch a first Hamer Cup crown in 20 years – their last the second of back-to-back final wins in 1999 – when they face Walkden at Horwich RMI.

And Ernst said it would be a fitting way to bow out before their fresh start in the GMCL.

Ernst said: “It would be a fantastic way to go out.

“I’m probably not the right person to speak about the history of Bradshaw and the Bolton League and what they’ve done for each other, but no doubt it’s been fantastic.

“Everyone has loved their time in the league, including me, but a change brings new opportunity.

“We’re also in the Peter Stafford final on September 1, and we’re the holders. A lot of people make light of that competition. But when clubs get past the group stages, that’s when it gets serious.

“Every opportunity to win a trophy is what it’s about. We’re trying to install a winning culture at Bradshaw.

“We have a reasonably young playing group, and they’re starting to get that hunger and desire. We have a lot of 19-24-year-olds who have 10 plus years of first-team cricket ahead of them.

“It would be ideal to go out with a couple of cup trophies. But we have some strong opposition in the way, including either Horwich or Atherton in the Stafford.

“Nothing short of our best cricket is going to be good enough.

“Amongst the playing group there’s a bit of a buzz, and everyone’s looking forward to it.

“We know Walkden will provide tough opposition.

“Their record over the last 18th months speaks for itself.

“Everyone’s looking forward to the day as a whole.

“I actually know a few of the old 1998/99 Hamer Cup champion teams and have reached out to them over the last week and a bit.

“It appears a lot of them are going to be on board with us for Sunday.

“We’ll get a coach for the supporters and those players, and it will turn out to be a bit of a reunion for those players. Hopefully we help them enjoy their day.”

Despite their successful runs in the cups, Bradshaw took some time to get going in their final league campaign.

But Ernst believes they can provide a test for reigning league champions Walkden in Sunday’s showpiece.

He added: “It’s a funny one. We seem to really get ourselves up for the big games.

“We’ve got good records against Horwich this year, Farnworth, Walkden we ran close two weeks ago. Last year, we beat them a couple of times.

“We’ve also had success in the Lancashire Knockout and the National Knockout against the likes of Denton St Lawrence, who are running away with the Premier Division in the GMCL.

“There’s never been a knock on our ability as a playing group, it’s just a matter of whether we can sustain it for long periods of time.

“But the last four or five weeks, not too dissimilar to last year, we’ve really simplified our cricket and our strategy. It’s seems to have gone well.

“Without giving too much away to Walkden, I think it’s just our even spread of contributors throughout the team.

“I don’t think we have a marquee player who stands out above the rest.

“Walkden have a fantastic pro and some really good bowling stocks. They are littered with some really good players across their squad.

“Their whole side is littered with quality – really good bowlers, strong batsmen.

“They’re a team who you can’t have any lapses against because momentum can shift very quickly in their favour.

“You have to really have your foot down for 50 overs in the field against them.

“They have some really good bowling depth, a couple of real quality spinners.

“Liam Jackson is excellent, and he bowls first change for them.

“If we’re not at our best with bat and ball, it’s going to be difficult to press them.

“We’re under no illusions we’ll go in as underdogs. They’ll be red hot favourites. But that’s been quite the norm for Bradshaw recently, and we have kind of relished that opportunity.”

Bradshaw go into the weekend in positive mood after a Premiership win at Horwich RMI – the venue for the final – last weekend.

Ernst said: “The last couple of seasons we’ve not had much success playing at Horwich.

“But in the week leading up to Saturday just gone, I built it to be our biggest game of the season by a long way.

“My reasoning was that if we’re going to have success this year, we’ll have to win some games on that ground.

“That’s where the Hamer Cup final is, and there’s also a 50 per cent chance that’s where the Stafford final will be.

“Credit to the lads, we went out against a really strong Horwich side and won.

“We needed that for a bit of confidence that we can get the job done there.”

Weekend fixtures


Bolton League (1.30pm)

Premiership Division: Adlington v Lostock, Bradshaw v Kearsley, Farnworth v Walkden, Farnworth SC v Horwich RMI, Little Lever v Westhoughton.

Association Division: Astley Bridge v Heaton, Atherton v Little Hulton, Blackrod v Golborne, Daisy Hill v Eagley, Darcy Lever v Tonge.

GMCL (1pm)

Premier Division: Greenfield v Egerton.

Division 1B: Edgworth v Walshaw, Stayley v Astley and Tyldesley.


Hamer Cup final (1pm at Horwich RMI):

Walkden v Bradshaw.