By Peter Stafford (March 1989) Back
IF the 1987 season had proved to be Farnworth Social Circle's year, then 1988
belonged firmly to Greenmont. Unbeaten over the last fourteen matches, they
clinched their first Bolton League championship on the penultimate day of the
season when they crushed Tonge and thus gained ample revenge for one of the only
two league defeats suffered throughout the season. Their other setback was
inflicted by Farnworth in May, during an opening spell which saw the Bridgeman
Park club unbeaten and topping the table after nine matches. In fact Farnworth
had suffered a devastating blow even before the season had got under way when
their newly-signed professional, Robin Bracewell, sustained a serious leg-injury
during a pre-season friendly which was to keep him on the sidelines until the
second Saturday of June. But such was the form shown by deputy-professionals
Austin and Fitton, who between them registered three fifties and a century, and
the bowling skills of Duncan Worsley who took 33 wickets in his first seven
games, that Farnworth, as already indicated, became the early pace-makers. But
five defeats in the next six games signalled the end of their hopes, and it was
Little Lever who took over as leaders. Their reign lasted for a month, and came
to an end when they finished on the wrong end of a high-scoring thriller at
Heaton. On that same day, July 9th, Greenmount beat Egerton, moved to the top of
the table, and stayed there until their first championship was secured with a
game in hand. Westboughton had given thern a run for their money, staying in
contention up to the last couple of weeks. But adefeat at the hands of Heaton on
the first Saturday of September put an end to the Tyidesley's challenge and
Greenmount were able to enjoy a pressure-free final game at Walkden during which
Mark Taylor celebrated the title-success by hitting a record sixth century.
Taylor's ultra-reliable batting was obviously a key factor in his club's
triumph. His final tally of 1,283 was the fifth highest in the League's history,
having only been bettered by his three compatriots Bower, Marsh and Waugh along
with the West Indian Ken Richards. Derek K ay, Dave J ones, John Ashworth, Andy
Williams and Gary Chadwick each exceeded 300 runs, whilst Neville Neville's one
fifty of the season came in typical fashion and was the club's fastest. Patrick
Farhart's 89 wickets were over thirty in excess of any other of the League's
amateur bowlers, and he was well-supported by Terry Stewart, Dave Mason and
Darren Foy, who took another 92 between them.
Ironically, most of the more newsworthy events concerning Green mount in 1988 happened in April and May, before they had found the rhythm and consistency which was to prove the basis of their success. The first match of the season produced at hrilling tieagainst Little Lever, whilst in game number two at Egerton they almost came unstuck against theeventual wooden-spoonists when, facing a score of 113, they lost six cheap wickets before Jones and Stewart saw them home. Then ac; ucial win (in the light of things to come) over Westhoughton was followed by defeat at Farnworth. On May 17th, Bradshaw and Greenmount combined to leave the League Aggregate Record far behind when,in the face of a Bradshaw total of 295 for 3, a spirited reply found the Brandlesholme Road side only eleven runs short of what would have been a truly amazing win. This was followed by 275 for 5 in a drawn game at Kearsley which was highlighted by young Andy Williams' first senior century, whilst Round One of the Hamer Cup saw them squeeze through by two runs at CastleHill. On the last Saturday in May, Taylor's second century of the year provided the foundation of a huge 308 for 2 as Farnworth Social Circle were trounced by 189 runs. The second half of the season was negotiated rather less sensationally, but with a stability which led inevitably to their richly deserved title.
Westhoughton, who finished second, probably did so because of an inability to bowl sides out. This they managed on only four occasions, being greatly helped in one particular game by the opposition's number eleven, who obligingly ran himself out! Their four main bowlers took only 155 wickets, compared to the champions' leading quartet, who totalled 181. The club's batting was immensely strong, and run-chasing was rarely a problem. Estwick, Heaton, who broke the club record, Graham Hill, Harrison and Brooks all scored prolifically and attractively, whilst Peter Jones won the League Wicket-keeping Prize for the first time.
Yet again the 1988 League Championship underlined the dominance of both the top professional and the above-average overseas amateur. Indeed, over the past five years, the pro's and overseas players of the five championship sides have totalled between them 8,856 runs and 554 wickets, figures all the more remarkable taking into account the fact that Bower, Lones and Taylor didn't bowl, and that Farbart didn't bat. Over the same period, the same factor would appear to have made a similar impact on the Hamer Cup competition, when one considers the Cup Final contributions of Long, Jones, Tucker, Lones, Prabhakar, Owens and, in 1988, Wendell Coppin.
But Coppin's Final heroics were three months away when the twelve sides lined up for Round One of last year's Cup Competition on May 22nd. Westhoughton were through by teatime, having amassed 307 for4 against Bradshaw, only a dozen runs away from anew Hamer Cup record. Steve Woodshit 105 of them, Heaton and Estwick joined in the fun with 50 apiece, and although young David Morris hit his second half-century in eight days, Bradshaw were 113 short at the end. Farnworth had Worsley and Austin to thank for their win at Heaton, whilst Greenmount. as has already been mentioned, scraped through at Tonge. At Astley Bridge, Kearsley seemed to have failed to pace their reply correctly, falling ten runs short of the home side's 180 with three wickets still in hand when the game finished. Sandiford's unbeaten 51 saw Social Circle comfortably through at Egerton, and Horwich beat Eagley by eleven runs. It later transpired, however, that Horwich had fielded an ineligible player and the tie was replayed, with the only real difference in the end being a substantial increase in Horwich's winning margin. They owed a lot to a huge opening stand between Long and David White, both of whom hit half-centuries. Indeed, Grant Long seemed to be somewhat partial to Eagley's attack in 1988, taking 253 runs from it on the four occasions on which the two sides met. Incidentally, Horwich won all tour, which must create some kind of a record!
Round Two proved to be something of a triumph for the south side of the town as Walkden, Little Lever and both Farnworth clubs all made reasonably easy progress through to the semi-finals. Farnworth Social Circle almost won by ten wickets at Horwich thanks to a long opening partnership from Edwards and Lord in reply to the home side's 146. Lord. who hit 81, was dismissed just before the winning hit was made, leaving Edwards unbeaten on 54. Farnworth's opening pair, Bracewell and Brian Wallwork, also shared a century stand against Westhoughton. The 200 total which resulted from this fine stand proved to be 44 too many fort he Tyldesleys club, for whom only deputy professional Mike Watkinson had any real answer to Duncan Worsley, who followed his first round 7 for 51 with 6 for 51. Greenmount bowed out to Little Lever in the face of some hostile bowling from Chris Matthews, who seemed to relish the speed of Greenrnount's wicket. He took 5 for56,and was excellently supported by Paul Killey as Little Lever won by five wickets. Walkden required only half their allotted overs as they knocked off the 103 runs needed to beat a below-par Astley Bridge. Ainsworth took five cheap wickets in what was otherwise a sound team performance.
The draw for the semi-finals opened up the possibility of an all-Farnworth final, but it was not to be. Each semi-final followed a similar pattern, with the side batting first hittingover two hundred and going on to win by somewhere in the region of 100 runs. Little Lever had Partington, Hallows, Huntington and Waller to thank for their 235. Again Worsley bowled admirably, taking 3 for63 from his 20 overs, whilst his innings of 35 was the highest score in a disappointing Farnworth reply. Over at Walkclen, Social Circle made the most of the chance to bat first. Lord's 55 took his season's cup-tally to 171 in three innings, and with none of the other batsmen failing to reach double figures, the 200 mark was reached in the final over. After tea only Alan Gaskell looked capable of withstanding the Circle attack, and once he had gone for 40, Walkden crumbled to fan Nuttall and Wendell Coppin, the professional's 6 for 40 giving some hint of things to come!
As if ordered, the weather for Cup Final day at Bradshaw was perfect, probably the best day of a summer during which two or three consecutive days of sunshine was indeed a rarity. Twenty four hours previously, Circle had been badly beaten at Greenmount, whereas Little Lever had been inspired by all-round performance these circumstances might well have some bearing as Little Lever approached their circumstances might well have some bearing as Little Lever approached their second successive Final. The huge, sun-drenched crowd sat back in anticipation of a tight, lengthy struggle, hoping for one of those really memorable Finals that the Hamer Cup throws up from time to time. Alas, they were to be sadly disappointed, thanks, in part, to a fine spell of bowling from Wendell Coppin and in part, it has to be said, to a less than competent display of batting from Little Lever for the second time in two years. Nigel Partington looked the part early on, and Tony Settle battled for an hour and a half in an attempt to give the innings the backbone it so badly needed. But he finally fell, inevitably to Coppin, whose 8 for 46 was the best professional bowling performance in 59 years of Hamer Cup Finals. He was supported economically by Sandiford and Nuttall, and wicket-keeper Ion Partington played an important part with four catches, the finest of which got rid of the obdurate Settle and brought the innings to a close. Little Lever's supporters could only console themselves with the thought that Coppin's achievements must surely be within the scope of Matthews' capabilities. But on the day, that proved not to be the case. Lord and Edwards dug in, and when Lord went young Nigel Franklyn came in and immediately began to make a nonsense of moist of the batting which had gone before. Shots flowed to all parts, and suddenly he was on the verge of a very fast fifty with the game all but won. Simon Anderton, acknowledging defeat, put himself on to bowl and Franklyn, going for the big one after having hit 44 from 42 balls, was caught in the outfield. Coppin's Man-of-the Match award was a formality as the Circle side together with its supporters began to celebrate the club's first-ever Hamer Cup success, whilst most of the neutrals amongst the crowd, cheated of a full days cricket by Coppin and Franklyn, lingered in the sunshine, reluctant to believe that, at half past five, the season's showpiece was over! But over it was, and Farnworth Social Circle had become the first club to hold simultaneously the three trophies most coveted by Bolton League clubs.
Their second team came very close to winning a fourth, having reached a Birtwistle Cup Final which was marred by bad weather and surrounded, in the end, by controversy. Coincidentally, it was again Little Lever who provided the opposition, and it was they who were eventually deemed to be the winners after a superb game of cricket had lost some of ts gloss by the necessity of an examination, of the scorebooks before a result could be declared. Ode player above all who didn't deserve to finish on the losing side was Circle's Paul Rushton. He took 6 for 53 before almost winning the game with a superb 73. He had few, if any, rivals for the Man-of-the-Match award.
No such doubts, however, surrounded the outcome of the second team championship. Tonge, for the third time in six years, were runaway winners, finishing the season 21 points ahead ofrun ners-up Eagley after what had been a twohorse race duringthe latter part of the summer. The reason forTonge's supremacy is shown by a glance at the League's second-team bowling averages, which show that the side's four leading bowlers, John Roberts, Tony Bailey, Dave Sutcliffe and Steve Blinkhorn took 149 wickets between them fora combined average of8.16. Which, put into simpler terms meant that on the rare occasions when Tonge's opponents exceeded a score of'8 1, they had batted in an above-average manner! Add to that the fact that six of the side's batsmen averaged over twenty, and there becomes little cause for wonder at the success of Alan Bradbury's talented side. Three of the team won League Prizes. Dave Sutcliffe was the leading bowler, whilst the captain himself won the Catching Prize and Blinkhorn's 9 for 39 against Walkden was the summer's best bowling performance at secondtea m level. The other three2ndTeam prize-winners were Horwich's Derek White, who won the Batting Prize, Bill Wheeler of Farnworth Social Circle, whose 26 victims were more than any other wicket-keeper, and Roy Costello, whose innings of 118 not out was the highest individual score in second team cricket in 1988.
After Farnworth Social Circle's Greenall-Whitley triumph of 1987, last season came as something of a disappointment in that none of the League's five representatives in the competition managed to get through to the Final. There were compensations, however, notably Tonge's performance in reaching the semi-final stages, with no 'easy rides', let it be noted, along the way. They started their campaign in the Preliminary Round with a fairly comfortable victory over Unsworth, who were beaten by five wickets after having been restricted to 109. Mike Bennison, with 45, was Tonge's top scorer. The holders, too, were involved in this stage of the competition, with somethinig of an easier task against Chorley St James. Circle topped the 300-mark as both their West Indians, Coppin and Sandiford, enjoyed some early-season batting practice, taking a hundred apiece from the visitors' attack. The Chorley side's reply of less than 100 gave the holders an easy win, although not quite the walkover they were handed in the first round proper, when opponents Haydock found themselves unable to fulfil the fixture. As it turned out, the victory over Chorley St James turned out to be Circle's only success in the competition, for they Finally lost their hold on the Trophy in Round Two when they were beaten fairly comfortably by Oldham, who got home by four wickets in reply to Circle's 128 all out.
Tonge played host to Clitheroe in Round One, and once again Bennison was the game's top scorer with 79. Keith Horn by, too, hit a half-century, and the final score of 195 proved 10 too many for Clitheroe, for whom ex-Kearsley batsman Brian Lones provided most of the resistance with 68 whilst Mike Dewhurst, formerly of Eagley and Westhoughton, had a handy little spell of 3 for 26 during which he gleefully disposed of his former Eagley team-mate, Paul Rimmer, for 5.
Kearsley, Astley Bridge and Greenmount entered the fray at this stage, and Kearsley's winover White Coppice was largely down to a fine 89 from Craig Lavelle. Les Ryan destroyed the visitors' early batting with four cheap wickets, and although a praiseworthy last-wicket stand held things up for a while, Kearsley eventually ran out easy winners. Astley Bridge travelled to Norley Hall fort heir first round tie. 1 it the end they won because their 45 for 1 from the first ten overs they received was considerably better than the 21 for 1 collected by the home side from their first ten before the rains came. But the rest of the story was far less mundane! The Bridge, moving on a little after those first ten overs, had actually amassed 242 for 7 by the end of their innings, with Karl Krikken having hit 122, the highest score ever by an Astley Bridge batsman. Ray Eccleshare and Nigel Tebay had given him valuable support, and what a disaster it would have been had Norley Hall managed, say,46 for 7 from a ten-over slog and so 'won' the match. In this case, however, justice prevailed in the end, not always the case in these rule-contrived finishes. Unfortunately, the draw now paired Astley Bridge with Greenmount in Round Two. The Brandlesholme Road side had, in the first round, disposed of Furness by virtue of a faster scoring rate which owed a lotto Mark Taylor's rapid and unbeaten 62. It was Taylor again who played a large part in the defeat of Astley Bridge, this time with 85, and although the home team made a sound start in pursuit of Greenmount's 173, a couple of run-outs and a three-wicket spell from Farhart left them 21 short at the end.
Kearsley were faced with a home tie against Wavertree in Round Two, and the fact that they eventually progressed into Round Three was almost entirely thanks to the Rawlinson brothers. Phil's 21 not out towards the end of Kearsley's innings bolstered the total to a still dubious-looking 119 for 9, after which he and Paul combined to take, between them, 5 for 41, as the Liverpool side collapsed to91 all out. Tonge had a particularly tricky-looking visit to Leyland, never a happy hunting-ground for Bolton League clubs, but a fine team performance saw them come out on top by 37 runs. Whilst no one starred, everyone made a contribution, and perhaps mention should be made of Mark Heath's 3 for 26, which included the vital wicket of Ken Snellgrove, scorer of the game's only half-century.
It was during Round Three that the name of Bootle first became a dirty word in Bolton League circles. In it they put Kearsley out of the competition, and were to go on to two further successes against our clubs during subsequent rounds. Bootle's 180 for 8 was, in the end, 12 too many for Kearsley inspiteof60and46 from Lavelle and Morris respectively and, in the later stages, afighting22 not out from Ryan. Tonge's trip to Cherry Tree saw them safely through, thanks to two fifties from Bennison yet again, and Paul Rimmer, the latter's coming, typically, in 28 balls. Rimmer added three cheap wickets to his batting contribution, Heath another four, and Tonge were home by 57 runs. Greenmount had to travel into the wilds of Cumbria for their third round tie at Lindal Moor, but the journey was made thoroughly worthwhile as they coasted through, overtaking the homeside's 101 in just fifteen overs. Mark Taylor hit a third half-century in the competition and received good batting support from Derek Kay. Sadly though, Greenmount became Bootie's second Bolton League victim in the quarter-final. In a surprisingly low-scoring match they fell six runs short of the 142 required. Patrick Farhart had once again provided problems, taking4 for 16 from his eight overs, but, for once, Taylor fai led with the bat. JohnAsh worth stepped into the breach, hit a fine 60,and was, along with Farhart, unlucky to end upon the losing side.
Meanwhile Tonge, drawn at home to Middleton in the quarter-final, were experiencing problems. They had included in their side for the game Warren Hegg, a Tonge player prior to his elevation to Lancashire's first eleven, and after the Castle Hill side had, on the first night, hit 212 for 7, including 98 from Hegg, Middleton lodged a protest concerning his eligibility. The protest was upheld, and the Central Lancashire League club was awarded the tie. They requested, however, that the mate hshould be restarted, and that too, was agreed. It was an enormously sporting gesture on the part of Middleton. It was also, as things turned out, possibly an ill advised ' oni! The game recommenced and, within a few overs, the Tonge innings was in shreds. It was at this stage that David Roscow and young Nick Dimaroello joined forces to put together as brave and as productive a stand as the Tonge supporters would witness all the season. Between them. the pair hit over a hundred undefeated runs, Dimarcello 58 and Roscow 44, as they steered their side to what would ultimately be shown to be a winning total. The Middleton reply moved through its ups and downs, the game swayed back and forth until, amidst great excitement, Linden Fraser's final spell did the trick with a mere half-dozen runs to spare. But it was all to be of little avail as Tonge became the third victim in Bootie's unwanted hat-trick in the semi final. In a reduced-overs match at Tonge, the visitors hit 152 for7 from the 36 overs available, with Fraserand Rimmer combining to take 5 for 34. Against an understandably defensive field, Tonge found runs difficult to come by. Keith Hornby's determined 44 was top score, and late flourishes from Rimmer and Dimarcello raised brief hopes, but when the final wicket fell, the home side was 27 short of its target.
At inter-league level, 1988 was arguably the most successful season in the League's history. In the annual match against the Manchester Association the F.I.P. Trophy was retained, the Trinity Trophy was regained, and the Manchester Evening News Lancashire Inter-League Trophy was won with some ease. The League's first outing was, according to precedent, the most formidable obstacle of the lot.The Northern League has the best record ofall the leagues in the Isycar-old competition, and has provided a stumbling block for the Bolton League all too often, in recent years, especially when holding ground advantage. And so, not unnaturally, the first round tie at Leyland was anticipated with no little apprehension by the League and its well-wishers. The following two immortal quotations are taken from the 'Buff"s review of the game printed on the evening before the tie. The wicket at Leyland is one of the best in the county and one which, given the right weather conditions, should produce a high-scoring match' and, even more hilarious in retrospect, 'The side's (Bolton League's) bowling, however, looks a little chancy'. And guess who wrote all thatP In the event, of course, each of our five bowlers took wickets and performed admirably as the cream of the Northern League's batting was shot out for 87 with ten overs of the innings left unused. Chancy indeed! Paul Tebay and Nigel Hallows gave the League's innings the required sound start, and eventually Ronnie Irani came in to finish things off with a few choice blows leaving Tebay unbeaten on 45.
The semi-final draw threw together the two teams which everyone in Bolton loves to watch in opposition and, in spite of some rain in the morning, the match against the Bolton Association at Atherton lived up to all expectations, providing along the way the one troubled moment of our inter-league side's season. This came when, in reply to the Association's 179 for 7, the League's batting had subsided to 80 for 5, with only 16 overs remaining. At this point Paul Berry joined Mike Bennison at the wicket and, to cut a long and inspiring story short, they were still there thirteen overs later with the required 100 runs safely in the bag. The manner in which the runs came was, for this spectator at least, the outstanding memory of the whole of the 1988 season. The running between the wickets was an object lesson. Every first run was taken quickly, with the result that ones became unlikely twos and twos often became even more unlikely threes. And all this, bear in mind, from two batsmen who had in all probability neverbefore batted together. They ran with an understanding which bordered on telepathy and a confidence which, at times, bordered on a kind of' educated lunacy. But t hey were still there at the end, after never a hint of a slog, and after only one spot of trouble when Berry just beat the throw after a particularly impudent two. For the record, Berry's 51 just pipped Bennison's 45 to the Man-of-the-Match award. There were other men of the match, of course, very much in supporting roles. but nevertheless Mark Price's all-round contribution was vital, as was fan Nuttall's control during his ten economically-bowled overs.
In the Final it was to be the Central Lancashire League. This was the sixth occasion in the last ten years that the two leagues had met, with all five previous maw hes having gone the Bolton League's way. this one, too, went the same way, wit h barely a hint of the drama which has surrounded one or two of the previous encounters. From the early moments when Steve Crowder bowled his eight overs for just six runs, through to the winning hit with Nigel Heaton and David Smith at the wicket, the whole thing had an air of inevitability about it which, on the day, gave a fair idea of the difference between the two sides. Man-of-the-match Crowder, Harrison. Nuttall and Price all bowled well, and David Smith, playing in Paul Berry's place, slipped in at the end to clean up the tail with4 for 16. Several good catches were taken, the best one by skipper Nigel Hallows, and after tea the first five batsmen all contributed as the 119 required runs were gathered without much alarm or incident. Throughout the competition most of the sixteen players selected by the League had made major contributions towards the success of a team which had been well led by Hallows. The fact that apart from during the Bennison/Berry stand at At Heaton, hardly any pressure was exerted on the League's batsmen, was something of attributed to the catching and the ground fielding. but, above all, to the accuracy and penetration of the eight bowlers used.
In late June the challenge march against the Manchester Association was won at Green Lane, possibly more easily than the final 10-run margin would suggest. The tact that the Association manage(] to get so close was to a large extent, due to a final fling by the last pair, but long before they came together the League's bowlers had put the game well out of reach. Bennison, Heaton, Senior and Harrison each exceeded thirty in the League's all out score of 174.
The Trinity Trophy was regained with much ease following the traumas of 1987. Long, Bennison, Irani, Price and Matthews all hit runs in the League's total of231 for 8, but the man who made the win a reality was Heaton's off-spinner, Arshad Ayub who, brought on as first change, produced a spell of such accuracy and sheer pressure that by the end of it there was no way back for the Bolton Association. His full figures were 10-7-8-3, and of the eight runs conceded by Ayub, six came from one ball! At the other end, Price was wheeling away with his usual line and length, and after only 35 runs had come from the 20 overs bowled by the two spinners, Irani and Long wrapped up the innings for 140. It is perhaps worth a mention that during the five inter-league matches played in 1988,the three genuine spin-bowlers used by the League, Price, Nuttall and Ayub, bowled a total of 80 overs from which were conceded a mere 2.2 runs per over, and during which 15 wickets were taken, 12 of them belonging to batsmen in the first five of the order.
During the four inter-league games in which he played, Michael Bennison hit 167 runs, and that wasj ust one of the reasons why he was overwhelmingly voted'Playerof-the-Year' by his fellow players in 1988. In addition to that, his 981 League and Cup runs for Tonge broke the club's record, and his runs scored in the Greenall Whitley Trophy took him to something around the 1,350 mark for the season. It almost goes without saying that he won the League Batting Prize! Duncan Worsley was the League's leading amateur bowler in terms of average, whilst Dave Syddall's 15catchesclinched the fielding award. Syddall's team-mate, Ronnie Irani struck the most 6's during the season, 35 in all and at the end of the summer he became the subject ofa somewhat unique sequence of events when, after having been adjudged Junior Player of the Year he wasoffered a contract by the County Club and finally signed by Eagley as their 1989 professional. The three League awards for single match performances went to Bradshaw's Neil Senior, who bita n unbeaten 158 inthe record-breaking game against Greenmount, Mark Heath ofTonge forhis.9 for 52 against Horwich, and Ray Eccleshare whose 19-minute half-century against Walkden equalled the League record. Grant Long of Horwich was awarded the Professional's Prize and deserved it for the sheer consistency which brought him 1,068 runs, 66 wickets and 14 catches. The Fort Sterling Batsman of the Year was Victor Sandiford, who hit over a thousand runs for the second time, with Patrick Farhart claiming the corresponding Bowling Award.
In his final season as Eagley's professional, Richard Powell enjoyed another excellent year. He topped both the Bowling Averages and the list of fielders with 83 wickets and 18 catches, whilst his 450 runs brought his four-year tally whilst at Eagley to 2,303 runs, 286 wickets and 54 catches, all-round figures which bear comparison with the best.
The Jubilee Trophy Finals, expertly handled as ever by and at Little Lever, featured Eagley, Heaton, Tonge and Walkden, and it was the latter two clubs who qualified for the Final itself. The day was a triumph for Walkden's Smith brothers. David had been largely instrumental in disposing of Eagley in the first semi-final, and in a nail-biting Final it was John's unbeaten half-century which saw his side through after an early and almost fatal collapse. The scores were level at the end, but the fact that Walkden had conceded fewer wickets than Tonge earned for them the right to retain the Trophy they had won in 1987.
In January the first Indoor Competition was played under the new sponsorship of Anthony Axford Ltd., and the first name to be engraved on the splendid new trophy turned out to be that of Brian Quigley's Horwich side. After early victories over Astley Bridge, Egerton and Famworth Social Circle, their opponents in the Final were Bradshaw. David White's fifty, the only one of the whole competition, was really the difference between the two sides as Horwich won the competition for a record fourth time. Our thanks are due to Tony Axford for his sponsorship, to Fred Elmore and his fellow umpires for their organisation, and, not least. to Susan Janson for her efficient scoring throughout the entire series of games.
Thanks, too, are of course down to our new and enthusiastic League sponsors, Fort Sterling. The initial year of our 'merger' has been a rewarding one and hopefully, the first of many. Lastly may I, on behalf of the League's officials and Committee express gratitude to the Umpires Association and to everyone at the clubs who helped to make season 1988 no less memorable than the previous fifty-eight.