Stalwart Bleazard pays tribute to title-winning skipper Cottam

Title success: Charlie Cottam, pictured with the trophy, with the Lowerhouse side of 2012 which last won the Lancashire League, with Chris Bleazard bottom right
Title success: Charlie Cottam, pictured with the trophy, with the Lowerhouse side of 2012 which last won the Lancashire League, with Chris Bleazard bottom right

Lowerhouse stalwart Chris Bleazard has paid tribute to captain Charlie Cottam after the club sealed a third Lancashire League title in four seasons on Sunday.

The West Enders needed seven points from their final three games, and got them, and more, at the first attempt as they beat Todmorden by one wicket at Centre Vale.

Bleazard, who has played a part in every trophy-winning side now at Liverpool Road - claiming four league titles , two Worsley Cup wins and a 20/20 victory - made sure unsung hero Cottam got the credit he deserves for his role in an era of dominance.

The club won their first major honour, the Worsley Cup, in 2004, captained by Matt Hope, before Joe Beneduce lifted the league title for the first time for the West Enders the following year

Cottam, however, has been at the helm for every triumph since, having been a major performer in the side for the best part of two decades.

Bleazard said: “It is perhaps appropriate to commend perhaps the most vital part of the team, it’s captain.

“In the last four years, the club has won three league titles, the Worsley Cup and a 20/20 Cup all under the tenure of Charlie Cottam.

“Charlie is the team’s heart, he provides the inspiration and belief that takes talented individuals and moulds them into a winning team.

“Through pre-season fitness, winter nets, warm up games and most impotantly on match days, he provides the structure and framework that allows the team to flourish.

“His hard work and dedication during training nights cannot fail to inspire the younger generation, and we are still to find a match for his fielding and catching, although I am sure he would confess that his throwing is not as strong as it once was.”

He added: “Much has been said about the development of the club in the last 10 years, the strength of our junior section and the individual achievements that punctuate successful seasons, but all too often the role of the captain is absurdly overlooked.

“All succesful clubs have fierce selection issues, decisions about how to blend youth and experience and a particular issue in cricket, how to give individuals a chance to develop their skills when opportunities are limited by the linear nature of the game.

“Charlie has always dealt with these issues honestly and with great care, at great disadvantage to his own personal development as a batsman of great ability.

“Ultimately he is part of the decision-making process that inevitably leaves out a gifted player from the side. These are tough calls and often agonising ones.

“They can lead to criticism from players, parents and supporters alike, but they would do well to appreciate the soul searching and stress that these situations inevitably cause a fair-minded and dedicated family man.

“Each decision is always made in the interests of the team and always with the aim to achieve the best result for the ‘House, and who can argue with the results?

“I think it is time to publicly acknowledge Charlie’s contribution to the recent unprecedented success, and place a spotlight on a vastly underrated cricketer, captain and more importanty a rock-solid man and a person I am truly proud to call a friend.”

Lowerhouse will receive the Lancashire League trophy after Sunday’s home match with outgoing champions Accrington, from 7 p.m.

The individual annual award winners will also be announced, with a pie and pea supper served, and entertainment from Jonny Grogan.

Tickets are priced at £5 each, available from behind the bar, any committee member or via e-mail - tony@lowerhousecc.com

Worsley Cup winners Burnley, in 10th place, will look to maintain their fine end to the season on Sunday as they make the journey to Blackburn Road to face Church.

Games start at 1 p.m.