RIBBLESDALE Wanderers captain Jordan Britcliffe says they will treat today’s title decider with Read like any other game – although he knows it will be anything but that.

With the league urging all spectators to stay away from the final round of fixtures, due to the increase in coronavirsus cases, it will be an unusual ending to the most unusual of seasons.

The 28-year-old accepts the decision but is disappointed especially, as he points out, Clitheroe Football Club can have up to 400 spectators watching their game at Shawbridge on the same day.

“It is a shame that there won’t be any fans present to see us try and win the league,” said Britcliffe. “We have had a good following this season and, with everything going on, the cricket has been a nice distraction for everyone.

“I can understand why the league has made the decision but, at the same time, down the road, Clitheroe Football Club are allowed 400 fans watching their game but the 100-odd who would normally watch us aren’t allowed in.

“But it is something we will have to deal with.

“As far as I know, the bar will be open after the game so hopefully if everything goes to plan, they can join us for the celebrations afterwards.”

With silverware at stake, Britcliffe knows his side will have to focus on the matter in hand.

Victory would give Wanderers a first league title since 2000, defeat could see Settle retain their crown should they win at Oswaldtwistle Immanuel.

It has been a superb season – albeit a Ribblesdale League campaign reduced to 11 games – with Wanderers winning eight of their 10 fixtures to date, a defeat to Feniscowles the only blot on their copy book having seen the match against Barnoldswick abandoned.

Now Britcliffe wants to finish the job and clinch their title for the first time since his dad Ian helped Wanderers win 20 years ago.

“I would have been at the game but I don’t remember too much about it,” said Britcliffe junior. “The cricket club is very much a part of our family and I have been going since I was very young.

“Saying that, back then as an eight-year-old, I would have probably been doing everything but watching the cricket!”

Fast forward 20 years and Britcliffe will be very much focused on what is happening on the pitch.

The captain praised the efforts of his team to get them to the brink of the title and says the addition of county coach Bobby Denning has been a big help.

“We have got Bobby in to help us out and he has made a big difference,” said Britcliffe. “There have been games we have had to dig in and win this year which we would have lost last season.”

Britcliffe points to the last two games as cases in point, beating title rivals Settle in the final ball of the match two weeks ago then recovering to beat Whalley in their last outing.

“We have got a bit twitchy in recent weeks but we have all stuck together and that win against Settle was massive, probably the pivotal moment of the season.”

But Britcliffe knows that will count for nothing if they don’t complete the job today.

“We all know what is at stake but we have to treat it just like another game and focus on what we can do,” he said. “Read are a good team, they have hit a bit of form and have nothing to lose. So we know we are going to have to be on top of our game.”

While Andrew Needham and Eddie Steinson – who scored a vital half century in the win over Whalley last weekend – have been the main run-makers, Birtwistle says bowling duties have been shared out.

“It has been a team effort,” he added. “Because we are playing cup format cricket, you have to have five bowlers rather than relying on a professional and your main man so we have all chipped in with wickets.

“That has been one of the pleasing things of this season.

“It has been a weird season but we have been able to play a lot of cricket and that is something none of us probably thought would happen. So let’s hope we can finish it off and celebrate afterwards.”

With Settle travelling to Oswaldtwistle, the final round of fixtures also sees Brinscall host Earby, Feniscowles welcome third-placed Barnoldswick while Whalley go to Cherry Tree. Padiham and Salesbury played last Sunday with Padiham taking the win.