DAVE Tonge could be a lucky omen for Farnworth Social Circle tomorrow when they head into their Hamer Cup quarter-final encounter with Farnworth... and boy, do they need one.
The Bolton League leaders may have been brought back down to earth by their local rivals last week, as Farnworth ended their unbeaten league record with a hard-fought 13-run win.
But after a swashbuckling start to the season, and with home advantage, Matt Parkinson’s side should still go into the cup match-up as slight favourites, yet history tells a different story.
While Hamer Cup holders Farnworth have a proud record in the competition – winning 10 of their 15 finals – Social Circle having only won it once, in 1988.
“We have never been a cup team since I have been at the club,” said Parkinson, who helped the club to its fifth Bolton League title in 2009.
“I have been here for 23 years and in that time we have never made a cup final, let alone won one.”
But the Social Circle skipper believes he could have an ace up his sleeve in Tonge.
The experienced batsman has won the competition three times with three different teams, finishing on the winning side with Eagley in 2001, Farnworth in 2005 and Kearsley in 2009.
By rights, if you go by the mathematical sequence, the 33-year-old was due another Hamer Cup win last season.
But he believes the current side has the right blend to end the club’s 26-year barren spell and his own five-year wait for another title.
“I don’t really know what the reason is that Social Circle have struggled in this competition,” he said.
“They had a good chance to make the final two seasons ago, but fell at the last hurdle, losing to Greenmount in the semi-final.
“In my experience, the successful cup sides I have been in have had really good depth in their squads, and maybe in the past that has been lacking here.
“But that is certainly not the case this year. I think we have strength in depth in all departments, we are not just reliant on one or two players performing.”
Tonge opened the batting with young Lancashire hopeful Josh Bohannon in last week’s defeat, and while the 17-year-old made 24, the return of regular opener Tim Rees will certainly strengthen the side.
Parkinson could well be a doubt, however, as the skipper suffers from a chronic back problem that normally restricts him to just one game per weekend.
With the league leaders facing a tough test at home to third-placed Westhoughton today, the captain would not be drawn on which game he would be playing in.
But he added: “I guess because of the work that goes into winning the league then I would have to favour that.
“But we have won the league in the past so it would be nice to finally break our duck in the cup.”