RAY TAYLOR'S COLUMN: Hamer Cup finalists head into the unknown

Ray Taylor

Ray Taylor

First published in Sport

FOR many of the players, with the possible exception of Simon Anderton, Sunday’s Hamer Cup final at Tonge will be a new experience.

Little Lever were losing finalists in 1987 and 1988, but you have to go back to 1972 for their last victory in a final.

I don’t have the players from that day, but the following team defeated Bradshaw in the semi-final – D Galley, G Holt, A Lansdale, D Hamblett, M Pringle, N Cutt, D Ogden, K Worrall, B Jones, S Ramadhin (professional) and A Pickstone.

Heaton’s last appearance in a final was way back in 1958, when co-incidentally they lost to Sunday’s opponents, with their last victory in 1951 when all the finals were played at Green Lane. Playing for Heaton that day were Freddie Prescott, Jeff Fearnhead, Arnold Bradshaw and Dick Naylor.

Giant-killing acts in a Hamer Cup final are rare.

Only once in the last 16 years has a team from the lower half of the table overcome higher-placed opponents.

Sunday’s match will be even more exceptional as it’s the first final for more than 40 years to be contested by two teams in the bottom half of the table.

The match begins at 1pm, and while there is a lot of space for cars around Tonge’s ground, there is additional parking available in the nearby streets and at Canon Slade School.

Looking further ahead to Sunday, August 10, Bradshaw will play host to the England Cricket Board t20 area finals.

The first match begins at 10am, with the Bolton League winners Egerton playing the Central Lancashire League victors Norden. At 1pm, Liverpool Competition winners Northern will face Netherfield from the Northern League, with the final starting at 4pm.

These two teams are not unknown to Bolton League clubs with Northern defeating Horwich at the same stage in 2012 and Netherfield winning off the last ball against Astley Bridge last season.

The victorious team on the day are just one more game away from a televised appearance on Sky in September.

On the same day, Westhoughton entertain Farnworth Social Circle in the Birtwistle Cup final and Heaton host two junior finals against Bradshaw, with the under-11s being played at 10am and the u13s in the afternoon.

Bolton League clubs have been asked to look at two proposals affecting the rules of the senior game locally.

There are similarities in the respect that both ideas involve playing half the season to the existing rules, and the other half with major variations.

The first suggestion is to reduce the number of overs to 45 or 40 and limit the number of overs for each bowler, in a similar manner to the National and Lancashire knockout competitions.

The problem is how to achieve this without reducing the standard, giving clubs little incentive to sign a bowling professional and perhaps forcing our better amateur bowlers into neighbouring leagues.

The other is based on the playing rules in the premier leagues and would be a return to the side fielding second having to dismiss their opponents to obtain maximum points.

Equally importantly are the proposals affecting junior cricket.

At the moment, clubs are required to run u9s, u11s, u13s, u15s and u18s teams and there are options to reduce the amount of cricket being played, hopefully without running the risk of losing players.

I read in last week’s Bolton News about the fire at Clarendon Street School. The school was the venue of the first indoor cricket nets in Bolton, and I recall using the facilities, first as a player in the mid 1970s along with coaches Arthur Hargreaves and Teddy Gerrard, and then in the early 80s in a coaching capacity with David Baxendale, Richard Dearden, Tom Openshaw, Stan Smith and Phil Warren.

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