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Red hot Church

RUVEN Peiris's dedication to league leaders Church's cause is in no doubt.

RUVEN Peiris's dedication to league leaders Church's cause is in no doubt.

The Sri Lankan paid man turned down the chance of a professional job last Saturday to hold a curry night for his Church team-mates and fans last Friday.

He spent the entire day cooking - and it proved a big hit with everyone concerned.

"We had all the old jokes about getting runs the next day but it was good and it just shows the kind of person Ruven is," said skipper Phil Sykes.

And Church are hoping they can now keep up the red hot pace after taking over in pole position two weeks ago.

The Blackburn Road side last lost a game on June 13 and celebrated a 86-run victory over Todmorden last Sunday to cement their place at the top.

Next up it is bottom club Burnley at Turf Moor but there are no loud predictions of winning the league from the Church camp.

"You just have to look at Bacup," said Sykes. "They were clear at the top then lost three games in a row. They are a strong side and it can happen to anyone. Any side can beat any other in the Lancashire League."

"Accrington beat Nelson, who are up there, last weekend and Rishton, who are a much better side than last season, had a good win at Lowerhouse. And Burnley have Jonathan Clare and David Brown - two good players who could win games for them."

"Things are going well for us, there has been some excellent bowling performances, especially from the younger players, but we know anything can happen in the last nine games."

"We have to play five out of the top seven teams and it is up in the air. But at the moment we are enjoying it. It has raised expectation and I have noticed that more Church supporters are turning up and that I am getting more emails from Church fans."

The captain admitted his team-mate Mark Aspin is eyeing the club amateur batting record of 781 held by Alec Holt.

Aspin's 46 against Todmorden took him to 525 runs for the season. "The record is on his mind," continued the captain. "If he could get one big score, I think he could do it."

Peiris, who has signed up for another season at Blackburn Road, hit 45 to take his tally for the season to 718 as Church made 228-8. Nick Westwell was in the wickets again - he took three and now has 45 for the season.

But star of the bowling show was youngster Phillip Gilrane who took 4-33 to restrict Todmorden to 142 all out.

Bacup's defeat against Haslingden means they have dropped down to fourth with Ramsbottom in second spot, eight points behind Church.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist