Captain Cottam hails champions after third title in four seasons

Title success: The Lancashire League trophy is back at Liverpool Road
Title success: The Lancashire League trophy is back at Liverpool Road

Lowerhouse captain Charlie Cottam hailed his champions following the club’s third title success in four years.

The West Enders regained their crown with victory over Todmorden at Centre Vale at the end of August and were gunning for a Lancashire League points total.

Having won 19 games on the bounce, victory over Ramsbottom at Acre Bottom on the final day would have cemented such a milestone. However, the Holland Cup winners preserved their record of 164 points set in 2010 as a 93-run triumph saw ‘House fall three points short of equalling the tally.

“We’ve always said that the league is the main one to win because the team that wins the league has been the best side throughout the course of the season,” said Cottam. “The other competitions are great spectacles for the crowd and they’re a money earner for the club but to win the league is fantastic. The league is the best trophy to win and everybody knows that.

“The fact that every single player is home-grown contributes to our success. The players that have come through Lowerhouse over the past five years have been really talented. There’s a lot of young lads playing in the first team.

“There’s a great coaching system here, everyone bonds really well, there’s a lot of talent in the team, and the professional over the past three years (Francois Haasbroek) has also helped. He was a massive club man and helped gel that team together for us. They’re a fantastic team.”

Following the final game of the 2014 campaign the 34-year-old added: “The main person to thank is Stan Heaton. For the last 15 years he’s done a huge amount of work down here. He’s a little bit behind the scenes now with the coaching but he puts all the coaches in place and organises all the teams. He does a massive amount of work.

“There must be in excess of 20 teams here at the club. All of them are doing really well. The third team have won the league, the under 17s have won their league and the under 9s have won the league, and that shows that the hard work really helps.

“We’ve also got a strong committee and a strong set of directors who put hours of work in behind the scenes which helps successes like this happen. There’s a lot of work done by a lot of different people and the club couldn’t ask for any more.”

Ben Heap, who recently joined Ribblesdale Cricket League Section B side Padiham as professional for the 2015 term, ended the season as the highest run-scorer at Liverpool Road. The 26-year-old notched up 542 runs from 24 matches which equates to a 27.10 average.

Joey Hawke (473), South African paid man Cobus Pienaar (446) and Jonny Whitehead (431) all exceeded the 400-run barrier, while Cottam’s average of 32.14 from 18 innings proved to be the club’s most prolific figures.

With the ball, Pienaar boasted the league’s fourth most potent delivery with 68 wickets. Matt Walker contributed 42 wickets to the cause which included a devastating best of 6-10 - the second most impressive spell of the season behind Daryn Smit’s 7-10. Elsewhere, Hawke and Paddy Martin added 34 and 32 victims respectively.

Bharat Tripathi’s Worsley Cup winners Burnley culminated the season in 11th spot with 140 points. Professional Chris Holt fired 624 runs in his first season at Turf Moor, averaging 29.71 from 25 innings. Dan Pickup (467) and Chris Burton (423) both exceeded the 400-run mark.

And Holt was the pick of the bowlers with 52 wickets which included a seasonal best of 6-46. Cole Hayman and Tripathi contributed 27 wickets apiece, Graham Lalor took 23 while Jhangir Liaqat skittled 20 batsmen.