Lowerhouse chairman Stan Heaton insists the club won’t be distracted or enticed by the carrot being temptingly dangled in front of their faces.
Friday’s remarkable progression in the Lancashire League’s Twenty20 competition means that the West Enders could potentially become the first ever club to win the treble.
With Ramsbottom boasting a significantly superior run rate, it was going to take something spectacular to lift the air of pessimism that enshrouded the club ahead of the final group game with Colne at the Horsfield. And it did!
Colne stalwart Gary Hunt described the scene as ‘carnage’ on Twitter as ‘House kicked on imperiously. Chasing the home side’s 166-3 in a 16-over game, professional Cobus Pienaar (60) smashed a staggering half-century from just 14 deliveries as he combined with Jonny Whitehead (72) to put on 108 for the opening wicket. Eventually Matt Walker (17 not out) and Joey Hawke (2 not out) saw the visitors over the line for an eight-wicket win. Their reward is a semi-final with Nelson at Seedhill tonight.
“It was an incredible result on Friday,” said Heaton. “Our chances of progressing were slim but a remarkable performance saw us through. Some people were saying it was the most sensational spell of hitting they’d seen. To overhaul Ramsbottom’s run rate was truly incredible.”
Three games could ultimately decide Lowerhouse’s destiny. The schedule serves up two sumptuous semi-final showdowns and a league fixture with Bacup at Lanehead where their status as league leaders is at stake. By the end - Lowerhouse could be within touching distance of a historic haul.
“It doesn’t come any better than this weekend and it certainly doesn’t come any thicker or faster,” said Heaton, who confirmed that Hawke, Declan Bailey and Ben Gorton would be absent at the weekend. “Two cup semi-finals and an important league fixture sandwiched in-between.
“Games like that keep the players focussed and it makes them hungry for success. They won’t take anything lightly though and there’s certainly no danger of complacency creeping in.”
With the Worsley Cup semi-final against Rawtenstall at the Worswick Memorial Ground on the horizon, Heaton added: “The treble would be an unprecedented achievement but we’re not thinking along those lines yet. We’re just taking it one game at a time. You get in to difficulties when you start getting ahead of yourself. We do feel we are playing good cricket and getting in to our stride though.
“Last season’s Twenty20 final attracted between 1,500 and 2,000 spectators which was a real sight to behold. It’s something we would love to have again. If we advance in the Worsley Cup we’ll be hosting that as well. That would be a fantastic occasion. It was a massive event in 2004 with 3,000 people there.”
Seasoned Burnley amateur Stephen Brunt is praying that winning becomes habitual for the club as they look to preserve their Worsley Cup crown.
Two league wins on the spin has lifted Bharat Tripathi’s side off the foot of the table and they’re brimming with confidence ahead of Saturday’s clash with Rawtenstall and Sunday’s semi-final against Nelson, both at Turf Moor.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge recently but we seem to have turned a corner,” said Brunt. “We’ve recorded two wins on the spin in the league so our confidence is growing. Obviously it’s always nice to win games but our spirit has never been affected.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before we put things right. Our performances have improved and we’ve been rewarded for it. It’s great not being bottom of the league but we always knew we’d climb the table.”
Brunt added: “We’ve got two big games this weekend and they’re both at Turf Moor. We are looking forward to it and hopefully our run will continue. We are hoping that winning becomes habitual for us now.
“The Worsley Cup final was fantastic last year. These are the occasions that you want to be a part of as a cricketer. We’re determined to progress in the cup because it’s the only piece of silverware we can win. Beating Rawtenstall is just as important though because it means we take that momentum in to the semi-final.”