Manchopper at the Cricket (Flixton CC)

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Result: Flixton CC 226-6 (50 overs) BEAT Heywood CC 145 (44.2 overs) by 81 runs (Greater Manchester Cricket League Premier Division)

Venue: Lawrence Road, Flixton Sports Club (Saturday 25th June 2016, 1pm)

Att: 40 (approx.)

In what is likely to be the final club cricket blog of the season before the football returns to the pages of this blog for the bog standard usual sporting encounters, it was time to head to the most local club I’d not yet witnessed a match at. Yes, I was off to Flixton Cricket Club (not far from Valley Road for those more inclined that way) and their contest with Heywood Cricket Club.

After a 30 minute walk from my house, I was turning up at the entrance of the club, but not before (I reckon) getting some quizzical looks as I prowled the hedge running along the Moorside Road end of the ground for a small gateway hidden within. I’d spotted it previously, when on a trip to the aforementioned Valley Road football ground & Unicorn Athletic and made a note to get a pic of when the eventual visit to Lawrence Road came about. It’s a totally normal thing to do, ok…

The Secret Garden-esque gate

The Secret Garden-esque gate

Pointing it out

Pointing it out

Anyway, I’d arrived just as the precautionary cover had been removed from the wicket, but the stumps set in the ground pointed towards on time start, which was exactly what we were getting. The umpires informed the scorers of the result of the toss and thus Flixton were having first use of the pitch today. It wasn’t long until the openers were joining the fielding side and the two umpires out in the middle and we were all set to go. But before we get to the game, here’s a little about Flixton CC…

History Lesson:

The current Flixton CC formed in the early 1890’s and played on Johnson’s Field on Woodsend Rd. It’s believed there was a rota back then to remove cows from the pitch on match days. The original ground was located on an area known as “The Flash” and was originally surrounded by open fields and lush greenery. It’s not quite the same now unfortunately! The club moved to their current home, then known as “The Athertons”  in 1896. In 1914, the ground was acquired for the WWI “Dig for Victory” campaign (quite appropriate, considering the events around the date I write this on, before being re-laid upon hostilities end in 1919.

The club bought the ground in 1927 for £750 and went about improving facilities. These lasted up until the late ’60’s/early ’70’s, when the club amalgamated with a tennis club and grants allowed a new pavilion building to be erected. (Thanks to the club’s site for this info). The club have previously competed in the Manchester Association & the subsequent Manchester Cricket League, the Bolton & District League & now the new GMCL from this season.

Flixton CC

Flixton CC

Here come the players

Here come the players

After a rather uneventful first over, which turned into four or five maidens, I was joined by my, this year at least, ever present cricket blog partner Dan and his Dad Alan. Alan wasn’t too impressed with the news of it being a 50 over contest and not a T20, but was happy enough to watch for a few hours and indulge in some of the GMCL’s finest.

After the slow start to the match, opener Luke Perry (pretty sure it wasn’t the actor) tried to get the score moving, only to be bowled by Simon Dawson just after hitting the opening boundary of the innings. After his wicket, fellow opener Usman Tariq (23) & replacement Ashley Perry (I assume there’s a relation there) moved Flixton past the half-century mark in calm-ish fashion, before the former was dismissed by Dominic Humphreys’ seamers.

This brought the imposing frame of Alton Beckford to the crease, but he tried to get aggressive against the spin of Jack Morley and only succeeded in giving Chris Humphreys (more relations??) a steepling catch. His second-ball dismissal looked to have Flixton in a possible spot of bother but the new batsman, Barbadian Marlon Welcome-Goodman, along with Perry, were having none of that.

Decision time

Decision time

Carved away

Carved away

Welcome-Goodman started off in a fashion that didn’t quite show what he was about to unleash. After passing his half-century, he began to pummel the Heywood bowlers to all parts of Lawrence Road and the surrounding areas with balls disappearing into gardens and hedges beyond the rope. He was joined in passing the 50 milestone by the more sedate Perry who’d played well to steady the ship.

Eventually, an 11th boundary four brought a century for Welcome-Goodman, his first of the season. But, he was only to add a further two runs to his tally, departing for a fine 102 which contained 11×4 & 6×6. However, he was actually the last man to depart, following the prior dismissals of Perry (69-great score) and Adil Baig with all three out in the pursuit of quick runs to Chris Humphreys. Shay Parkinson (6*) & Connor De’ath (2*) saw Flixton through to their final total of 226-6.

Match Action

Match Action

Welcome-Goodman after his 102.

Welcome-Goodman after his 102.

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Clubhouse

So, it was to the bar for a second drink of the day after Alan had got a round in prior to his departure (thanks!) and it was, only natural, that Dan and I would ally cricket and football together. With Wales-Northern Ireland kicking off in the interval, it was decided we’d watch this game, while keeping a close eye on proceedings in the cricket through the advantageous windows.

After a fairly quick start, Heywood were pegged back and lost wickets and regular intervals. Their first fell in the ninth over, Liam Mason (14) driving to point off Baig, who quickly claimed the second opener Bobby Cross, for 22, four overs later. (It’s just dawned on me that the Cross family have a rather large presence at Heywood, with England’s Kate also having played for the club in historic fashion). Anyway, when Baig’s spinners trapped Dominic Humphreys first ball, Heywood were 40-3 and falling behind the rate required to get close to Flixton’s total. This became more of an issue when, with just three further runs added, ‘keeper-batsman Jayden Borg went to Luke Perry.

Solid

Solid

Match Action

Match Action

In some strife...

In some strife…

Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, I had to leave the match with Heywood poised on 90-ish for four and looking unlikely to chase the total. As such, I was sort of at peace with needing to depart, but not really. As it turned out, my feelings were correct with regard to Heywood’s chase. Despite missing out with the bat, Anton Beckford showed how dangerous he is with the ball, ripping out the visitors middle order. The two set batsmen, Andy Dawson (23) & Danny Pawson (45) were dismissed within three balls of each other to reduce Heywood to 108-6 and when Wes Hunt was run out by Welcome-Goodman a further three balls later, the game was all but done.

Some late order resistance by Chris Humphreys (24*) held up Flixton’s progress towards victory, but they kept nabbing away at the other end, with Beckford taking the wicket of Joe Lovell (7) and running out Jack Morley, before Connor De’ath took the final wicket of Simon Dawson for nought to end the game. You could say he gave the de’ath knell!! Hahahah…sorry.

So, that was the story of the final game of club cricket for me this summer (well, something of a summer). Thanks to all those whom I’ve visited and everyone at each club. It’s been great again and I’ve had great support with the write-ups too, so don’t let me down now Flixton. But, in all seriousness, thanks again and, all being well, I’ll return next year with different clubs and different places….

My Men of the Match:

Flixton: Marlon Welcome-Goodman

Heywood: Chris Humphreys

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