NELSON will create a little bit of history in the Foster’s Lancashire League tomorrow when club legend Michael Bradley takes to the field at Lowerhouse alongside his three sons – and Seedhill skipper Neil Thompson says the occasion will be a truly memorable one for the club as much as the Bradley clan.
Bradley, who celebrates his 51st birthday today, has recently returned to the Nelson side after a six-year absence to add much-needed experience to Thompson’s youthful charges and has regularly been playing alongside eldest son Lewis (26) and middle son Russ (22).
But the three Bradleys will be joined in the team for the trip to the Neville Gee Recruitment Ground by youngest son Elliot to create a first for the club.
League records are sketchy for the early years but it also seems to be the first time that a father has played alongside three sons in the history of the league.
And Thompson says it will be a moment to cherish.
“It’s fantastic for Mick,” he said. “He has done me a real favour by coming out of retirement and this will be a lovely moment for him.
“Lewis has been doing really well this season and Russ has been keeping as well as I have seen him – and now Elliot has got his chance.
“He played for the firsts in the T20 the other week and did okay and at the moment there is a floating place in the team. He has got his chance on Sunday and whether he stays in or goes back to the seconds I don’t know yet but it will be a great experience for him and a great moment for the family.”
And while the Bradley family outing is the headline-grabber, for Nelson the game with the leaders is crucial after their good run came to an end on the final ball at Todmorden last Sunday as skipper Andrew Sutcliffe hit a six to cheer the Centre Vale outfit and break the hearts of travelling Nelson fans.
Tod skipper Sutcliffe hit the final ball of the match for six to leave Nelson flat but Thompson said: “To be fair Sutcliffe won it rather than us losing it.
“We bowled and fielded pretty well and Richard Meade was about an inch away from the perfect yorker last ball. I have seen him do it so often but on this occasion Sav (Sutcliffe) got hold of it.
“But rather than damaging us I think the defeat will make us stronger and we go again against a very good side who I think will be in the top two come the end of the season.”
Nelson go into the game on what has become a rare single header in seventh place in the table but are just 29 points behind Lowerhouse as the race for the title promises to be one of the tightest in years.
The House, who are three points clear of Ramsbottom, look the team to catch this year after they missed out to Accrington last term and with Cobus Pienaar in glorious form they look more than capable of going the distance.
Ramsbottom are flying too and seem capable of going the distance this time around – but they face a test of their mettle at Acre Bottom as third-placed Church roll into town.
That has the potential to be a cracking game as two in-form sides lock horns with runs pretty much guaranteed, while Enfield, who are fourth, are also looking good and face unpredictable East Lancashire at Dill Hall Lane.
East Lancashire were desperate for honours in their 150th year but their stuttering form has seen them slip down into 10th and 63 points off the pace.
Rawtenstall legend Keith Roscoe once more goes in search of his 100th five-wicket haul in the league for Rawtenstall as they welcome Accrington to the Worswick Memorial Ground.
The early leaders have lost form at just the wrong time as they look towards next Sunday’s keenly anticipated Foster’s Worsley Cup semi-final with Lowerhouse and their cause is not being helped by injuries to Nick Payne and Rizwan Shafiq.
Payne’s broken arm will keep him out until next month but Rocky hope to have him back for that game.
Rishton entertain Haslingden, Burnley go to Colne and Bacup host Todmorden in the day’s other games.