Community club Leigh Miners Rangers are hoping to grab the headlines from their fellow Leigh side the Centurions when they take on York City Knights in the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup on Sunday (2.00pm).
Leigh Miners head the Premier Division of the Kingstone Press National Cider National Conference League and if they manage to beat York, of Kingstone Press League 1, they could become one of the first community club to enter the last 16 of the competition.
The game will be played at Leigh Sports Village and the town has really got behind them, according to Miners coach Alan Coleman: “It’s massive for the club and the town,” he said. “It’s just going crazy at the moment.
“I think we’ve sold 15 corporate boxes for the game, tickets are on sale in pubs and the phone’s been going non-stop with the press. Everyone apart from York wants us to win, I think they want an amateur club to be in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup, and you never know, stranger things have happened!
“There’s no pressure, York are a very established side. Everyone’s saying we’ve done well to get this far but as a group with myself and the coaching staff, we feel as though we can go further.
“We’ve had a really good pre-season and we’ve played seven, won seven, including cup competitions. We’ve not lost in the league, which was a major priority of ours to make sure the Cup didn’t affect us. The nicest thing is that we go into Sunday’s game with a full 23-man squad to choose from. We’re feeling really confident; it’s a massive challenge for us and we’re relishing it.”
Alan knows all about Challenge Cup fever, having played scrum-half for Leigh Miners in 1999 when they beat Northern Ford Premiership side Bramley 18-12 in the third round at Headingley. “We then came up against Hull KR with Stanley Gene in the next round and got beat unfortunately,” he said. “They were a great side at the time, but we did ourselves proud.”
So if they get through to the last 16, when the big guns of the First Utility Super League enter the competition, who would he like to get in the draw? “I think the town would want the Centurions, but you can’t help but look at the top teams in Super League – Wigan, Saints, Leeds and Warrington, any of those would be dreamland for my guys,” said Alan.
Tickets for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth round tie, Leigh Miners Rangers v York City Knights at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday April 19 (2.00pm) cost £8 for adults, £4 for concessions and children under 12 go free.