Colne Cricket Club are promoted as Lancashire League Division Two champions

Teetotal Colne captain Matthew Walker would have awoken far more clear-headed and refreshed than most of his title-winning team-mates.

By Dan Black
Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 4:30 pm
Lancashire League Division Two champions Colne CC
Lancashire League Division Two champions Colne CC

The Horsfield skipper, who celebrated his 34th birthday just hours after his side had clinched the Lancashire League Division Two title, was positively bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Celebrations went on long in to the night after Colne were promoted to the top flight as champions, despite a 37 run defeat to Enfield at Dill Hall Lane.

Walker even abstained from the alcoholic beverages that had been laid on by their hosts in the aftermath, but that didn't prevent him from enjoying the moment.

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After landing the club's first piece of silverware since 2010, Walker said: "The celebrations were good and went long in to the night, but I'm not drinking at the moment.

"I've just given it up as a lifestyle change and I've done it for the best part of a month now. JP [James Price] told me that I'd chosen the worst possible time to do it and, in hindsight, I probably have. I still enjoyed the celebrations, it was a great day for everybody involved with the club.

"It's really pleasing to have secured promotion as champions and to be the first team to get our name engraved on that trophy.

"It's a very special achievement. It means a lot to everybody connected with Colne; the ground staff, the volunteers, the committee.

"It was a special occasion for everybody. It's something to be very proud, something to celebrate and something we can look back on in future years.

"This was our season, 2019 was the year we finished top of the table and picked up the silverware."

Colne, who last won a league title in 1959, wrapped things up at the halfway point, securing the two bonus points required after bowling the home side out for 126 in 39 overs.

A clean sweep ensured rivals Middleton would have to settle for second best, irrespective of their narrow victory over Littleborough at Towncroft.

"We knew exactly what we needed to do," said Walker. "It was in our hands. We bowled them out so we'd secured the title by half-time.

"There was then that realisation that all our hard work throughout the season had come to fruition. We knew we were going to be able to lift that trophy at the end of the game.

"It was nice to be able to do it like that and not have to look over our shoulder at whether anybody could catch us.

"We were able to get it done and dusted. It would have been nice to have done it at home the week before, but it added to the excitement for everybody.

"It went down to the wire in both divisions, which is great for the league, so it was nice to finally get over the line."

Outgoing professional Price signed off in some style, taking the decisive wicket that would guarantee the league leaders the championship trophy.

The South African trapped Alex Whittaker lbw to finish on 6-48 off 14 overs, a return which saw the 27-year-old close the season with 50 wickets.

The Middleton bound all-rounder, who has spent two seasons at Colne, was also the second tier's most clinical batsman having clocked up 1,019 runs.

Walker said: "It was good for him to pick up the final wicket that secured us the two bonus points. I wasn't going to be able to wrestle that ball off him.

"I was looking to change things, but he assured me that he was feeling good. He ended up bowling 14 overs on the spin.

"It was fitting for him to pick up six wickets that took him to 50 for the season, adding to his 1,000 runs with the bat, which he'd achieved the week before.

"Those are fantastic statistics for him as a professional. It was extremely pleasing for all of us to see him get us over the line. You could see that it meant a lot to him."

Walker was part of the squad that lifted the Worsley Cup nine years ago as Ramsbottom were brushed aside at Acre Bottom.

Vice captain Sam Tillotson also featured as did John Lambert and Adam Holt, who watched from the sidelines on the final day.

Elder statesmen from that cup-winning group even made the trip to witness Colne's march to glory. Justin Nutter, who was named man of the match when top-scoring with an unbeaten 46 in his team's 145 finish, was in attendance alongside Jeff Ellis.

"It tops the Worsley Cup win in 2010," said Walker. "The cup winning run that year was still very special because we were unfancied in many of our ties. We upset the apple cart that year.

"The most pleasing aspect this season has been the level of consistency that we've achieved. That's been lacking from many sides down the years.

"Different people on different occasions have stood up to put in a match-winning performance, whether it be taking key wickets or producing good knocks.

"Everybody has contributed in one way or another. It's been a very good squad effort, it's extremely pleasing.

"The annual club presentation will be another good occasion to get everybody back together and reminisce.

"What we've achieved might have sunk in a little bit more by then and we can all reflect on what we've done."