The 1st XI made the short trip down the M65 to face the Cup Holders, undefeated in the Worsley Cup in their club’s history, and without captain Paul Houldsworth who was absent with a dodgy Cilla Black. Club Chairman and Vice-Captain Stuart Maher led the team in his absence.
On a beautiful sunny day and the crowd swollen by the expectant Blackburn Rovers fans in attendance prior to their visit down the road to the (once in a lifetime/soon to be repeated – delete as appropriate) promotion party, Maher fared no better at the toss, and as expected after last year’s performance at ALE Birch Hall, we were asked to bat.
A solid start from Armer and Matt Oddie was interrupted by the first of multiple LBW decisions. Owing to the strictly applied rules in relation to online and social media comment, no further comment is made by the writer. Save to say, respectful of the umpire as always, we did not necessarily agree.
When professional Silva was given out caught behind, a short day was again on the cards. However, bolstered by Swanney who slid down the order to support our young and improving side, we grafted our way to an uncompetitive total of 110 all out in the 45th over. Swanney, the last man out, top scoring with a patient and defiant 32.
Defending such a paltry effort against the holders was always going to be unlikely, and the Marie Celeste feel to the ground as 90% of the crowd had left to watch the football did little to raise spirits. But a couple of early wickets with the new ball from Maher left the holders at 17-2, and gave us a sniff of an unlikely victory. However, aggressive batting in the opening powerplay took the game well away from us, so aggressive in fact that Swanney had to leave the field having taken a blow to his right forearm. Darwen reached their target for the loss of 3 wickets, Aspinall picking up the Darwen professional Carolgees thanks to a stupendous catch from Armer, returning behind the sticks temporarily (or is it?!)
A better performance this time round at ALE Birch Hall, but we still fell well short. The sounds of wives, partners and girlfriends cheering from a distance at the prospect of no additional double headers and the associated brownie points that will follow being the main positive from the trip.