Lowerhouse Cricket Club stalwart Stan Heaton says the season so far has given the West Enders plenty of cause for optimism.
The Brooks Foundation Ground chairman drew on the positives after Charlie Cottam’s side slipped up in their pursuit of the Lancashire League’s top spot with defeat to Haslingden.
Heaton, awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, has been involved in the sport long enough to recognise when there’s a reason to be positive.
Lowerhouse may have won the title three times in the past five years but that doesn’t offer a true reflection of the fruitless decades that preceded the glory.
Before the Worsley Cup win of 2004, discounting the Holland Cup claimed in 1982, the club’s trophy cabinet was bare.
Now they’re in the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 competition and the LCB Knockout Cup while they’re also third in the league, just eight points adrift of leaders Ramsbottom.
“We’ve got a home draw in the Twenty20, we’re third in the league and through to the quarter-final of the LCB Knockout Cup,” said Heaton. “The glass isn’t far off being full from our perspective.
“We’ve only just crept over the halfway stage of the season so anything can happen. We’re relishing the competition ahead but we need to focus on ourselves.
“It’s a case of us evolving and developing over the course of the next part of the season. We’ve got to be happy with where we are. These are great times. We’re playing mini-finals at such an early stage of the campaign because every game is important.”
Lowerhouse’s season commences against East Lancs on home soil this evening in the Twenty20 and then moves on to the mini-derby against Nelson in the league tomorrow.
However, it’s the mouth-watering clash against rivals Burnley in the county cup that has really whetted Heaton’s appetite. The pair face off at Liverpool Road on July 24th.
“It’s fair to say we’ll be the underdogs in that tie,” he said. “Burnley really pulled it out of the fire after looking destined to lose against Bootle.
“They deserve a lot of credit though because they’ve beaten a top side from a very good league. To have beaten Bootle is a marvellous achievement.
“We’re ready to cause an upset though. Let’s just hope for a good day, a good occasion and victory for the underdog. We’re looking forward to it.
“We’re in it to win it. It’s a quarter-final tie against our big adversaries. We’re both challenging at the top of the league, in the Twenty20 and the county competition so it says a lot about the strength of cricket in the town.”
Meanwhile, history-makers Burnley could really shape their season over the coming days.
The Twenty20 kings continue the defence of their crown against Todmorden at Turf Moor tonight before the league champions travel to the Horsfield to tackle Colne tomorrow.
Bharat Tripathi’s men will then round off the weekend by entertaining Enfield in the semi-final of the Worsley Cup on Sunday.