Result: Ashton-on-Mersey 209-8 drew with Stockport Georgians 164-8. (TACS Cheshire Cricket League)
Venue: The Beets (Saturday 6th 2015, 1.30pm)
Att: 25-ish (hc)
For my second of the June-based series of cricket blogs, I wasn’t left with too much choice of venue. Staying local, my choice was whittled down to one of two clubs, Ashton-on-Mersey or Brooklands. The decision was swayed when I discovered I could walk to Ashton via the Trans-Pennine Way over the meadows, thus cutting the travelling costs completely. As a result, Ashton was to be my destination.
For a 1.30pm start, I set off around 20-to 1, giving myself time to arrive in the, almost inevitable, event of me getting lost. This duly arrived half way there, when upon reaching a dead-end, I chose left rather than right, before doing a full circle and ending up in the same place. After retracing my steps, I this time went right, crossing the footbridge over the River Mersey and following the towpath along the banks, before coming upon the ground immediately on the right, with only an embankment separating it from the water beyond.
Having arrived at a quarter past 1, I made my way around the boundary’s edge, round to the pavilion which stands in the far corner of the ground. Here, there are pub garden style benches sat behind a picket fence on top of a paved area. It was from here that I was to watch the vast majority of the game, out of the bracing wind which was to feature throughout the day. Before long, the two umpires were leading the sides out, the visiting Stockport Georgians side accompanied to the middle by the Ashton opening pair. But, before we get into the game, let’s first delve into the history books…
Ashton-on-Mersey CC was founded in 1897, moving to its present site in 1919. The ground is bordered by the River Mersey, A-o-M Golf Club. The club has seen its fair share of misfortune, a whirlwhind and fires have both damaged the older pavilion structure, which preceded the current brick one.
A-o-M CC played in the Manchester & District League for the vast majority of its existence, and the club won 2 Stockton Trophies (1959 & ’96) and a single President’s Trophy in 1997, during their time in that competition. Since 1999, A-o-M have competed within the Cheshire Pyramid System. At the end of their second season, they were relegated to the Cheshire League from the Cheshire County League, before suffering a further two relegations in three seasons.
From being in Division 3 in 2005, the club climbed back to County League, with promotion followed by the Division 2 and Division 1 titles lifting them back within five years. Despite the feat, the club lasted only a season back in the County League, being relegated back to the Cheshire League for the 2011 season, and it’s here that they remain.
The club’s most famous player was the West Indian Test star, the late Clairmonte Depeiaza, who wore the club’s jersey from 1978 to 1989. Depeiaza was, and probably still is, best known for his part in the World Test Match record for the seventh wicket in 1955, where he added 347 alongside Dennis Atkinson, with Depeiaza contributing 122.
Back onto the present day now and Ashton got off to a flyer, scoring 100 within 19 overs. During this time, they had lost three wickets. Firstly, Graeme Thomason was caught at cover for 14, before he was joined back in the pavilion by his opening partner, Alex O’Gara, who was run out for 27, breaking the third wicket partnership which stood at 69, a number which all the Ashton players seemed to have a fondness for, judging by their conversation! As so often happens, one brings two, and this was the case as James Lines followed after a fluent 41, with opening bowler Syed Khan taking two-fer.
After a slight rebuilding period and the re-establishing of the advantage for Ashton, they again lost two fairly quick wickets. First, Alex Turner fell, skying one to mid-off for 31, before skipper/wicket-keeper Lee Brooks tamely chipped down mid-off’s throat for just one. Mark Weighill fell for the same score to leave Ashton on a shaky 154-6, but A-o-M’s #4 Ryan O’Brien stood firm to register a fine 50.
He fell soon after, though, dismissed for 53, but by now Ashton were nudging 200 and looked well on top. After some good hitting by Sam Timbs, who hit five fours and a six in his quick-fire 34*, Ashton ended on 209-8 with Josh Knowles being last out, run out, sacrificing his wicket for the cause.
At the interval, I headed inside the pavilion where the honours boards and more are proudly displayed. There is also an old-style signpost pointing its way to the club hanging proudly upon the far wall. The bar is a smart, if rather small area, but there was enough space to go around today. After purchasing a Corona to last me for the break and the first half of the reply, it was back outside for the Georgians’ innings. This was despite one player’s protestations that it be delayed so they could watch the Derby on TV.
So, back outside onto the sunny, but blustery field head the sides, with Sam Timbs taking the new nut. And what an impact he was to make!
Timbs ripped apart the Georgians’ top order, bowling Hayden Bailey for 1, having Matt Hunter (4) caught at mid on & forcing James Locke (8) to nick behind to leave the visitors reeling on 29-3.
29-3 swiftly became 38-5 as paceman Timbs added the wickets of opener Ben Jones (17) and Oliver Henlin, caught at slip first ball, to his tally to achieve a five-fer and leave him on a hat-trick. This evaded him, but by this time the Ashton members and committee were trying to convince Timbs’ girlfriend to stay on more occasions, so he performs like this more often. I’m guessing there won’t be too many complaints coming from his end!
Alas for Ashton, this is where their push for victory ended. Stockport Georgians showed great resilience to bat for the vast majority of their innings without further damage. I had to leave after around 30 overs of the rely, mostly due to the fact I didn’t fancy walking over the meadows if the rain that was threatening was dumped upon the area. Just as I was making my way down the embankment, I heard the cries of an appeal and the joyous shouts of success. I toyed with the idea of returning, but gave best, preferring a cautious approach to the ever closing wet stuff.
It turned out that the game did finish unaffected by the weather, with Georgians ending on 164-8 from their 45 overs. The remaining wickets to fall were Iftikhar Hussein, who I imagine was the one I heard, lbw to Mike Roberts for 24, Trevor Bailey for a stoic 35, nicked behind and Jonah Rodgus for 22 to give Alex O’Gara two wickets, but it wasn’t enough to force the win, as an attacking Chris Dodd (31*) & Saul Ashton (9*) saw their team to safety.
A good day overall then, at a picturesque ground, in probably one of the more stranger sites. Definitely one to visit, if the opportunity arises and the game was very entertaining for the most part, with all sorts of results possible at certain times throughout.
My Man of the Match: Sam Timbs (34* & 5-41).