TOBY Bulcock admits it is Roy of the Rovers stuff for Accrington at the moment.
The 17-year-old was part of the side that finished rock bottom of the table last season.
But this season Accrington sit at the top of the pile with eight games to go and are aiming to hold their nerve and stay there.
"It has been totally the opposite of last season. I joined Accrington from Baxenden last year for a change and to play with more experienced cricketers. It was certainly being thrown in at the deep end," said all-rounder Bulcock.
"We finished bottom, the club almost went out of existence and we got knocked out of the first round of the cup - it was a culmination of events.
"There aren’t a lot of changes this season except obviously the addition of Graham Lloyd’s experience and the young lads like me, Graeme Sneddon and Stuart Crabtree have all improved under him and David Ormerod. Both are winners.
"But this season it has been real Roy of the Rovers story - with our pro Roy Silva being the Roy! - as we have won the Worsley Cup and are top of the league.
"I wonder what odds you would have got from the bookies especially with last season’s champions Rishton being near the bottom? No one would have predicted it.
"I don’t think any of us really expected it but we have just found a will to win.
"Last season we were just playing for pleasure and this season, it is pleasure coupled with performances and we have exceeded all expectations. We know we have always been capable - but it is just putting it into practise."
Bulcock admits that stories they have heard about people knocking their title chances have only spurred his side on.
"We have heard people say things about us and doubting us even at this stage of the season. I think they are just trying to wind us up but it doesn’t work. We ignore it all."
Bulcock, who played for Lancashire Under 17s this week, could certainly do all the calculations for what it will take for his side to win as he is studying A-Levels which include maths and further maths.
But he knows it won’t be a smooth ride as there is little room for error in the run-in.
They did see off bottom side Colne on Saturday thanks to Ormerod’s 7-44 - taking his tally to 58 wickets this season - but it was only a narrow win by two wickets.
And it was even tighter on Sunday in their one-wicket victory over Ramsbottom where Accrington secured the points with just six balls remaining thanks to Lloyd’s match-saving 84. Bulcock, who unusually drew a blank, admitted was a nervous time.
"It was heart in the mouths on Sunday - it was painful. Their pro played out of his skin and we pulled victory from the jaws of defeat," said Bulcock although main rivals Rawtenstall picked up maximum points to close the gap at the top.
"It is hard watching in games like that as I was run out and couldn’t have any input - it was nail-biting stuff.
"The games when we are cruising - when Roy Silva is on form and Graham Lloyd is making 20 before you know it - they are great games to watch!
"But none of us are getting nervous. Our run-in is not easy but we know we have just to keep on winning. Any team can beat another as we have proved after last season so we have got to keep it going.
"We have only lost three league games this season and it has been a good season no matter what but I just love to play!"
Toby admits there is a spell of rivalry going on. Older brother Dominic, 19, plays for Ribblesdale League side Baxenden.
"Dominic got Man of the Match when they played in the Ramsbottom Cup final last year so he was hurling abuse at me from the sidelines during our Worsley Cup final.
"When I won Man of the Match it evened things out," said the teenager after he took four wickets and made a quick-fire 39 in their final win over Todmorden.
"Now he wants to win the Ribblesdale League title and they could do that and we would win our league. The would be the ideal scenario for both to win it so fingers-crossed."
Accrington face Ramsbottom again on Sunday after a home clash with East Lancs tomorrow.