The captivating fairytale charting Lowerhouse Cricket Club’s arduous journey from rags to riches continues.
The West Enders’ failings on a domestic front was infamous throughout the Lancashire League - as 114 years without a single piece of silverware saw the club inherit the perennial ‘Cinderella’ tag.
But how things have changed. In 2004 the glass slipper was delivered to Liverpool Road in the form of the Worsley Cup and that ultimately sparked a renaissance.
Following the seismic contributions of former captains Matt Hope and Joe Beneduce, the club found a new Prince Charming in skipper Charlie Cottam. And alongside the club’s Fairy Godmother - though a suitably more masculine adaptation of the winged character - in chairman Stan Heaton, ‘House have prevailed with three more league crowns, another Worsley Cup win and a Twenty20 triumph since the 2011 campaign.
Heaton now believes that the club has everything in place at the Neville Gee (Recruitment) Ground to facilitate success for decades to come.
“The club has got a good conveyor belt of talent,” he beamed. “The Under 17s have won their league and we’ve got the best Under 9s team we’ve ever had. It’s been a hugely successful season. I think we’ve got players in place that will keep the club going for the next 25 years.
“We’ve won our previous titles with an extremely young side and a very capable pro. These lads are now getting older and wiser. Very few of them are 24 yet so you can argue that they’ll get even better if they maintain that hunger.”
However, the popular stalwart isn’t blinded by the potentially debilitating by-product of such success. Heaton revealed that clubs have already made enquiries about offering amateurs a paid role.
“One problem is that other clubs might start looking at our amateur players as professionals,” he said. “We had two queries last year and it wouldn’t surprise me if we had three or four this year.
“It’s just a consequence of success but it’s a compliment to the lads. They work extremely hard in training and are a credit to themselves. I’d like to think it’s because they’ve been nurtured and developed properly by the club but ultimately the plaudits go to the lads.”
He added: “You wonder if they would leave all this behind. There’s a decent square, tremendous training facilities, great support and they’ve had unbridled success for the past five years. Money can talk but I’d like to think they wouldn’t give all that up.
“We’ve got strength throughout the club. I have felt sorry for the second XI this season though because they’ve been hit with the most depletions.
“They’ve probably only fielded a fully strength side on three occasions this year because of individuals stepping up. The third XI is an entirely different team as well but they’ve been at the top end of the table all season.”
Lowerhouse will culminate the campaign against Holland Cup victors Ramsbottom at Acre Bottom on Sunday in their bid for 20 consecutive wins.
Elsewhere, Worsley Cup winners Burnley will round off their season on home soil. Bharat Tripathi’s side lost to Church by nine wickets in the penultimate outing of the term at weekend, and will be looking to rectify that against Enfield at Turf Moor, start 1 p.m.
• This winter, Lowerhouse Cricket embark upon their biggest refurbishment project in recent history as they develop their changing room facilities for the first time in over half a century.
The “Changing Our House” project, backed by Sport England’s Inspired facilities scheme, will see the creation of a modern, four-room changing facility, with appropriate facilities for female players and suitable disabled access.
All members, supporters and interested parties are invited to a meeting at the club at 7-30 p.m. on Thursday, September 25th to view the current facilities and consider the plans.