Readers of my articles last year will remember that, before we were so rudely interrupted by the football season, we were recalling clubs which had won the Championship of the Bolton and District Cricket Association.
Edgworth led the way with 12 titles, and we had reached those clubs with two titles so I think credit must be given to the remaining clubs who have added to the rich history of the Association.
I commented that Atherton and Clifton, surprisingly for such high-profile clubs, were among the group with two titles, but Atherton’s 2013 success made them the fifth club to record a third win.
Six other clubs have triumphed twice. Two of the present clubs, Blackrod and Elton, are in this category. With the former, it appears to be all or nothing. In only their second year of membership, 1986, the title was accompanied by Cross Cup and Vimto Trophy wins. It was 25 years before the village club took another title, also repeating the feat of winning the Cross Cup again.
Whereas the 1986 side had a distinctively local flavour, players included Mike Tickle, Gary Speak, Terry Southworth, Ken Whittle and David Farrar, the latter success was due mainly due to an influx of international players, including the Bhojani family, Steve Dublin, Thushendra de Zoysa and others.
Elton’s two successes in 2004 and 2006 owed much to the experience of professionals Dexter Fitton and Stephen Dearden, but they were backed up by a batch of young players brought through the club’s youth section, Our friends from the Bolton League are represented by Bradshaw, whose titles were gained in 1905, using only 14 batsmen in a season of 22 games, and 1926, topping the East Section and defeating Horwich RMI in the Championship play-off.
Roe Green and Spring View complete the clubs with two titles. The former triumphed in 1980 and 1985 with a nucleus of players participating in both years.
Present club official and Association umpire Nigel Stanyard contributed more than 600 runs each time. Ev Prill, Richard Green, Ronnie Jones and Gordon Heaton were the back-up to professionals Aslam Qureshi (1980) and Mark Hall (1985). Steve Dixon contributed 925 runs to the latter success. Spring View assembled an all-star cast in 2002, (Paul Matthews, Tony Kelly, Ian Critchley, and Andy Fox), to take their first title, but had to wait another 10 years, taking the title from Adlington on the last day of their last season in the Association.
Prominent in both seasons were Chris Barnes, Nigel Geary, Chris Rudd, David Gornall, but it was young player of the year Lewis Matthews, who pulled several games out of the bag in the run-in.
The variety of clubs which have graced the Association in its 125-year history is shown by the seven clubs who have achieved a single success.
Little Lever (1919), Egerton (1921), and Horwich Railway Mechanics Institute (1935) are well known as present members of the Bolton League. But what of Chalfont Street Independent Methodists (1922), Royal Army Pay Corps (1943), Tootals Sports Club (1949) and Taylor Bros & Co. Ltd. (1954)? Egerton and CSIM, from the West Section were the first outright winners of the two-tier system, the next four years going to the East Section winners.
This season 18 clubs will be competing, eight of which have not won the title. What chance of a further name being added to the roll of honour?