Midgley up for the challenge

Long-serving Gary Hodgson will be bidding for a second Challenge Cup success in Midgley United colours next week
Long-serving Gary Hodgson will be bidding for a second Challenge Cup success in Midgley United colours next week

Midgley United boss Craig Gee believes it would be “pretty awesome” if his side could lift the Challenge Cup for the first time in 12 years next Wednesday.

The Calder Valley men face fellow Halifax AFL Premier side Warley Rangers in the Skircoat Green Physiotherapy-sponsored event at the Shay (7.0).

It will be a second final in successive days for the club as their reserves meet their Ryburn counterparts in the rescheduled Invitation Cup on Tuesday evening.

The Invitation final has been put back because of a waterlogged pitch last Wednesday.

Midgley have been plagued by injuries this season and an indifferent finish to the campaign and a tough run-in left the firsts in fourth place.

Gee said: “It has been a nightmare season and if we were to win it would be pretty awesome because we have had a lot of problems.

“Full credit to the lads. To get two teams through to finals after all issues we have had is a fair achievement.”

Gee will not be at the Shay as he has an even bigger occasion to attend, the marriage of his daughter Lauren in Italy on the same day.

He will leave the team in the capable hands of Jonathan Cockroft and second team boss Nick Farrar as Midgley look to lift the trophy for the first time since 2003.

Remarkably, two of the side that beat Shelf at Natty Lane on penalties, when Stuart Spencer was manager, are back for this year’s final.

They are fullbacks Andy Wilkinson - who has also tasted success with Ovenden West Riding in recent years - and Gary Hodgson.

Calum Rodgers and skipper Andrew Butterworth will miss the final but Gee reckons Midgley will still be able to field as strong a side as they have all season.

Joe Gibson and Rob Stansfield will occupy the centre half roles and Gee is hoping star pair George Bamford and Tom Booth will make an all-too-rare appearance together up front.

Booth suffered a serious ankle injury 12 months ago and has been struggling for fitness ever since.

Gee said: “Boothy had physio last Friday and it is not a hamstring tear - he has had a reaction to wearing an ankle cast for most of last nine months.

“Hopefully he will be okay at training this week.”

Gee said Booth and Bamford, both prolific scorers, would be his ideal two up front but that they had hardly played together over the last couple of seasons.

Warley Rangers have finished a couple of places below Midgley in the table but they have had the better of this season’s meetings with Gee’s men.

“We are going into it as underdogs, there is no question about that, because they have beaten us twice,” Gee added.

“I am happy with that.

“We have got to work out how they beat us and put it right.”