Sharlston out to create history in BARLA National Cup final

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SHARLSTON Rovers face one of the biggest games in their history this weekend when they take on Fryston Warriors in the final of the BARLA National Cup.

The Weeland Road club became the first club from the Merrie City to reach the prestigious final when they defeated old foes Queens in last month’s semi-final in dramatic fashion.

They travel to Fylde RUFC’s Woodlands Memorial Ground on Saturday (kick-off 4pm) to take on the runaway Yorkshire League champions in the final.

And head coach Gordy Long can’t wait for the big kick-off.

“It seems like it’s been forever since the semi-final win,” he said.

“We’ve been playing twice a week and preparing with one eye always on the final and the lads are just really raring to go now.

“It’s been a long time in coming (getting to the final), we’ve got the quarter-final a few times but always fallen just short, so we’re delighted to finally get there and get the chance to win it.”

He continued: “There’s been a real buzz in training this week, there always is, and there’s a real buzz in the whole village, everybody is talking about the match.

“We have four coach loads of fans going and I’m sure there will be more going by car so there will be a good backing, there always is at away matches for us.”

Victory in the final would top-off a fine season for the Pennine League club, despite missing out of the Premier Division title.

Two defeats on the spin in the league put paid to any hopes of league title glory for Rovers - they lost to Queens and Drighlington in their last two outings - but Long is confident that missing out on league glory won’t have an impact on his side’s performance on Saturday.

“We’ve drawn a line under that now,” he insists.

“We got it straight out of our system and were straight back into training on Sunday to prepare for the cup final.

“We rested a few players for the last match and we’ve had a good two-and-a-half weeks to prepare for it, the results against Drighlington and Queens will have no baring on Saturday’s game.”

Long, and player-coach Lee Bettison, will name the squad for the final at an event with supporters and sponsors at Sharlston’s clubhouse tonight.

The event starts at 7.30pm and all are welcome to attend, with a question and answer session taking place before the players are presented with their special edition National Cup final shirts.

“We’ve got pretty much a full squad to choose from,” said Long.

“There is plenty of excitement at the moment but I’m sure there will be some nerves within the squad.

“But I have confidence in them, they’re a great set of lads and when we’re playing to our best we’re capable of beating anyone.

“Fryston are a good side, we know that, and they’re physical, but I think we’re a lot more mobile and we’ll look to run them around a bit.”

Castleford-based Fryston stormed to Yorkshire League glory, winning 21 and drawing one of their 22 league matches this season.

Something’s got to give in Lancashire and Rovers will be aiming to bring the National Cup back with them to Weeland Road to put the icing on the cake of a fine season.

See this week’s Wakefield Express Sport for all the latest sports news from around the district.