LOWERHOUSE’S history hasn’t been synonymous with cup finals or triumph.
The Liverpool Road trophy cabinet is only decorated with two Lancashire League championship trophies and a Worsley Cup triumph. Aside from that the club has been involved in just two major finals, including a 20/20 appearance and a defeat to East Lancs in the Martini Trophy in 1980.
The club’s perennial ‘Cinderella’ tag was vanquished with that cup win in 2004 that brought an end to an empty existence. And now, in the club’s 150th year, the current crop of West Enders could leave an indelible mark in the league’s illustrious history by registering their first league and cup double.
Paul Stansfield’s side will be halfway there to achieving that feat should they beat Church for a third time this season in tomorrow’s Worsley Cup finale at Blackburn Road, scheduled for a 12-30 p.m. start.
“It’s a massive weekend for us,” said ‘House coach Stansfield. “This will only be our third Worsley Cup final so we’re looking forward to it. It’s credit to everyone involved with the club that we’ve made it this far and it’s fitting that it’s come in our 150th year.”
The two clubs have met seven times in the competition previously, with Church leading the way with four victories. The clubs last met in the second round in 2009 when Church won by a solitary wicket.
“We’re happy with the form we’re taking in to the final,” Stansfield said. “We had our blip but we feel as though we’ve turned a corner so we’re going in to the game with plenty of confidence. We’ve beat Church twice already this season but that will have no reflection on the final.
“We’ve got Chris Bleazard and Jon Finch coming back in to the squad but Church have got one or two returning that have been missing in previous games as well. They’ve got Muhammad Jamil back who is a key player for them.
“We tipped Church to do well in the cup at the start of the season because they’ve got five very capable bowlers and they bat deep. They’ve not got much of a tail so we knew they’d be challenging.”
Stansfield added: “Win or lose it’s a fantastic achievement just to be involved in such a prestigious game. It makes us proud of what we’re achieving and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. It would mean more than anything but we’ve just got to keep going and keep winning. If we keep playing to our best then we believe we can do the double.”
But before the players and management focus on the final, there’s another league fixture to address. Lowerhouse travel to the Worswick Memorial Ground tomorrow to face bottom side Rawtenstall in their bid to reclaim that top spot from Enfield. Stansfield insists initial attention will be on tomorrow’s clash, though performances could have a bearing on Sunday’s team selection.
“We’ve been talking and although Sunday is a one off and a massive fixture for us, there’s still nine cup finals remaining from now until the end of the season in the league,” he said. “If we win all our games then we’ll be champions again. It’s in our hands.
“It would be nice to get the double. It would be just reward for everyone at the club for all the thankless effort that goes in to keeping us competitive in the Lancashire League. It means so much to every one of us.”
Stansfield added: “By the end of the weekend we could be back on top of the league and Worsley Cup winners. They are bottom of the league but they have a knack of raising themselves for these kind of games. They like to get in your face and we need to be ready for that. As a team our players need to raise their game because there’s a cup final place up for grabs. The team won’t be picked until the night before the final.”
Tickets for the Worsley Cup final are available from David Wren at the Rawtenstall clash tomorrow and Frank Entwistle at Lowerhouse CC from 9 a.m. on Sunday. Those wishing to attend the final can still pay on the gate, though these measures have been put in place in a bid to ease congestion on matchday.
Elsewhere, Bharat Tripathi’s Burnley travel to Lanehead to face Bacup tomorrow and in the Houldsworth Solicitors Ribblesdale Cricket League second place Read travel to Church Meadow where Ribblesdale Wanderers await while Padiham host Great Harwood at the Arbories.