This week, Wayne Belston looks back at the great 2nd XI JD Worthington Cup run of 2004...
As in line with previous posts I was asked some weeks ago to write something that may act as a stimulus during lockdown, I’ve had many memories over the years on and off the field and thought of one that sits well with me for sure, having played a small part of our historic club and hopefully played my part along the way, I couldn’t help lean towards how proud I was to get us on the honours board and a particular time down at the club when the juniors were not only a feature of our club but had some “ bloody good ones” too I might add. Bury CC in my time have always been a club that promotes youth and non-more so than the year I was lucky enough to be captain of 1st and 2nd team. For my part the things that stick in the memory was at that time we had the perfect blend, players who wanted to play the game to the best of their abilities with a competitive edge, hard nosed experienced cricketers, a large sprinkling of talented youth and a touch of genuine class. My job was easy all I had to do was steer the ship and like a good hand in cards, play them in the right order.
Some of the recollections are remenissions from past players and previous trips but the odd story during the cup run are still vivid and like yesterday, with the tech available I’ve included some score cards for those who may want to re visit “all our yesterdays”.
2nd Team JC Worthington Cup 2004
Rd 1 V Westleigh away (scorecard)- Having won the toss and deciding to field thinking we could roll this team over on a postage stamp type ground, a far cry from all the improvements that have benefited Westleigh today who boast a really nice ground, in those days parking your car at the side of the banking fell into the “at your own peril” as the wicket was often some 25 yard away from a leg side glance, I remember we rolled out someone similar to Rob Keen in that if he was available he made a big difference, Ibrahim Afridi ( La La) as he was known, related to recent junior members in Usman and Faheem clan, lets just say his visa at the time may have fell into the overstay category and we spent a lot of time as we are now - social distancing him away from the crowd , but boy could he play , for those going back in time he took a catch in a first team game when Dubs was pro Pete Allen was keeping and Jon Shaw was amongst one of our best youngsters against Lytham in Lancs KO, a one hand stunner low down in gully a few inches off the ground, great memories. A devasting spell in this first round of 6 overs 3 wkts for 15 runs sealed Westleigh's fate as we rolled them over for less than 100 and thoughts of us being back in Bury before 6pm was on the cards, as we know it doesn’t and didn’t quite work out like that, having made a real hash of getting into this target early and with less than 50 on the board and being 6 wickets down I can remember thinking how I was going to live this one down, fortunately we had Andrew Metcalfe dropping down from the 1s and Pete McCormack who was more well known for his bowling they both managed to get us home with a dogged determined knock and it ended with one of those games where we were secretly bragging that’s you lot sorted but in reality we were nervous as hell and on we marched into the next round.
RD 2 V Deane and Derby away (scorecard) - Highlights not in any order, Dominic’s and Nicky’s delight at the ice cream van arriving shortly after tea , to this day best memories of teas there were the plain salted crisps and slightly sweet pickled onion strands and to pray for ice cream van to arrive at 4pm hopefully batting 2nd, I must have lost the toss as we fielded first, Amar was at his metronomic best he had the ability to move the ball around and threaten the batsman as well as force them into a rash shot. Dave Leech was his partner who I’ll save mentioning to later on in the Monton game, but ends with the same result 8 miserly overs for under 30 runs. I remember before the game we had a gangly young lad 6’5 all arms and legs and could extract a bit of bounce and could be useful at Deane and Derby we thought prior to selection hence Matts non inclusion enter our very own spiderman Danny McCaffrey, I can recollect it didn’t quite work for Danny on the day, he was like bambi on ice running down the dip and couldn’t find his rhythm early on and after 3 or 4 overs met the skippers equivalent of the shepherd’s crook, off you come son, 6 an over couldn’t cut it in this team we had a variety of options. To his credit Danny played his part and did what most up front bowlers do when brought off early came back and mopped up the last two wickets. 3 batsman for D+D scoring 30 plus and 180 on the board nobody really putting us to the sword and we came off relatively pleased. After the short feast I’m thinking we need a good start me and Rob Keen stroll to the wicket , their skipper Solly India Atcha had sized me up from previous and brought himself on to my surprise , ok I thought he’s brought himself on to get me with a slow one , he runs up off 3 paces and loops one that pitches on middle and leg, “ perfect I thought - all the cherrys on the fruit machine appear” and I duly obliged to swing and miss, he hit and the stumps are down, off the skipper walks having played his really small part, certainly first over could have been 1st ball.
Little did they bargain for what was to come in the shape of an imperious innings from one of the best batsman that the MDCA had produced at the level, Rob was a player who over the years frustrated many including myself with his availability “ he was just so good he had to play” with his work commitments and part time DJ role it meant he could only turn out on a Sunday, on most occasions Rob played, we hoped we had the game won by 6.30pm because he had to be away to hit the decks at 7pm or just after depending where he was setting up in GMC. It was a master class of fluent stroke play, he had solid defence and scored all over the ground, he hit anything loose and hit it hard and had the nous to be able to count 6 balls in an over. James Mc Gahan was sent in to continue the plan of taking the game to the opposition early, only this time he executed the plan and took the responsibility on his young shoulders and wasn’t fazed, James fell into the talented youth category, his best performance with the ball was saved for the final, but for today it was with the bat and he gave Rob invaluable support and we had just shy of 100 on the board before he lost his wicket, Amar was in and out quickly but ball striking and keeping the tempo going and it was left to Paul Morris who fell into the hard nosed experienced category with a very well constructed support role to get us within touching distance, that was Paul’s best asset in this team similar to mine coming to the end of our careers but still very good at the level and had a real will to win, as well as being able to bat and get runs behind his name . Rob was in full flow and masterly negotiated his way to a magnificent 100 as well as getting us over the line, after being 1 for 1 knocking it off for 3 down, Rob quite rightly took the patios applause. I must also pay respect to two Dean and Derby players who have been instrumental in the set up at Chelsea Road and provided good community links with all the Asian cricket mad fraternity in the surrounding area. Maz Atcha was a very fierce competitor and took to the field many a time and had that fighting spirit and regularly got wickets and runs against Bury opposition and Solly Indian Atcha who was always a smiling face in adversity at Dean Derby, he knew of the restraints that were set before the club and the challenges faced in keeping the club afloat with little money and he set about trying to engage the youth and I know even today he is very sorely missed by all connected at D&D, for those who do remember a familiar face I have asked for the following link to be uploaded.
Rd 3 Swinton Moorside home (scorecard). Lost the toss again, Swinton I recall fancied themselves and so did I to be honest they too had a good mix, wickets no 3 and 4 were stand out for me James Mc and Amar getting two good batsman and the spine of their team removing TJ Hooker who again as we know went on to get many runs for Swinton at 1st 2nd and 3rd teams and Amar getting Craig Smith who at the time was a stand out u18 and making his mark at senior level. We had the upper hand and remember throwing the ball to our silent assassin Zeeshan . Zeeshan was one of those lads in them days always fell into the “we’ll pick you up on the way” at least you knew this way you had the responsibility to be safe in the knowledge he would turn out, as later on it became apparent he fell into the “cant be relied upon to turn up brigade”, nevertheless a smashing lad who did no harm and had the knack of breaking up partnerships and off he rolled with 5 wickets for 10 runs and Swinton trudging off with only 91 on the board. With what seemed little pressure at the time to knock off less than 100 score card suggests I finally managed to get the show on the road and waisted little time in ensuring Rob wasn’t going to be late for his DJ slot this round and hopefully spur him on to be available next round. Rob was already in sight of the intended target and some blusty blows from our resident keeper batsman Mark Hague got us over the line in the said amount of overs it took for us to bowl them out. Swinton out of the cup a good scalp!!.
Semi Final Monton home (scorecard). Memories from this game do stick long into the memory and flow as such , word was out and for all those doubters out there we did on the odd occasion produce a “good deck at Bury” I can see some of you rolling around the floor laughing even now, but this was a team who believed in its own ability and it was going to take a good team to knock us out, we still had all the armoury at our disposal, hitters ,stickers, bit of pace, bit of slow, bit of guile and craft and not to forget what every team needs and wants a gobby keeper. It was only as time wore on as in the early days I struggled to get to grips with how Craig always wanted to knock Mark’s head off, after all Mark was in Simons age group and trained with each other every Thursday at nets, by this time Craig was at an age to join in netting and Mark had this knack of getting in Craig’s head and I spent most of the time on the drive back home most Thursday nights trying to console Craig to “not let Mark wind you up “ that was to stop him knocking his head off at weekend. That said in all seriousness Mark played his part in the team he was never short of a word in the batsman’s ear and like most keepers likes to have the last word, he had great fast hands and had a style of batting that left you in no doubt if he hits it your only going to retrieve it from over the ropes. I might also add Mark was very well supported from a family member in his grandad and I always had a soft spot for him in that respect, he too played his part in shaping his grandson in wanting to be sporting and doing his best in every game he played and watched.
Final v South West Manchester away (scorecard). At this point I feel I’ve rambled on enough so I’ll shorten it up , anyone visiting South West in previous times knew the ridge at one end might prove troublesome against home opposition, from recollection it didn’t materialise on this occasion, once again Rob was the backbone of the innings and on this occasion it was a dogged effort from memory and with the odd batter getting in their teens , we tried to build a big score and score quickly and with the first 3 wickets falling at 20/80/130 we had a reasonable base, as it finished 176 we felt we had a chance, as in before Rob quite rightly took the applause another masterclass. Turnaround time and the young and old combination with pace and control was the order of the day for Amar and Speedy to open up , not a too dissimilar start to us 100 on the board and 3 wickets down, it was the 3rd wicket that was key Will Appleton was a young up and coming top order batsman who had represented MDCA rep side and it was left for young Arshad to match him up and he broke his pole with a peach, young Ashy as he was known had that knack of getting top batters out , Sully Khan was his next victim he too was a top talent and went onto better things and is still around playing today, by this time the senior players knew this next wicket would swing it our way and once again we had the perfect bowling combination, which makes me think even more so today how many times can you say that usually you’re happy to shore one end up. Matthew was doing what he does best strangling the opposition and this left James Mc to attack the batsman, anyone who played with James knew he was a rhythm bowler and if he got into his charge in style he would worry a batsman with movement pace and bounce in any combination, he got the one we wanted in Keith Wellings again a classy operator in his own right, James was in full flow and not only ripped through the middle order but cleaned up the tale too finishing with a match winning 5 wicket haul.
Off we strode victorious to witness James’s dad Pete Mc jumping around with delight not just for James but for his young chargers who had all played their part during the cup run, I still distinctly remember Les congratulating me and I could see from his face it meant the world to him and we proudly lifted the trophy.
On reflection as mentioned previous during the cup run throughout we had somehow created the perfect storm and timed it just right.