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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Cleator cricketers on eve of Lord's dream

It will go down as the greatest day in the history of Cleator Cricket Club.

Cleator CC photo
Cleator Cricket Club’s James Rogers, Scott Kiggins, Robert Mason, David Blackwell, David Bell and David Rooney

When the team walks on to the ground at Lord’s tomorrow, the eyes of the cricketing world be upon them.

The club’s proud president Alan Wishhart – who has played league cricket for an impressive 56 years – had this simple message: “If they play to their true potential, I’m sure they can win.”

Tomorrow, the team are to face Gloucestershire side Rockhampton in the final of the National Village Cup at Lord’s, the home of cricket.

They will be cheered on by hundreds of their excited supporters who will be part of a crowd that is likely to number in the thousands.

As he made last minute preparations for the trip, Mr Wishhart, 67, gave an insight into the dedication that has allowed the team to go so far.

Despite holding down full-time jobs, the players devote hours to their craft every week, practising two nights a week as well as playing matches on Saturday and Sunday.

Alan said: “Sometimes, after a particularly hard match, they might get to just one practice in the week.

“But the attendance at practices has been particularly good this year.

“Typically, an away game would start at 2pm, and the game can last for six or seven hours. If it’s a game in Barrow, for example, they might have to set off at 10am and might not be back home till 11pm.

“So they have to be dedicated. The attitude of the team is excellent.

“Obviously, to get this far, they have to gel as a team; and you have to play good cricket and be in the right frame of mind. You’ve got to be determined to win.

“You can’t just turn up and think: We’ll see what happens. Fortunately, there are some very talented cricketers in the team just now.”

The excitement that has built up over the team’s success has brought the community together, and Alan and his fellow players are delighted that so many will be there to cheer them on in London.

He said: “It’s all very exciting, and everybody is looking forward to it.

“Imagine an amateur footballer getting the chance to play at Wembley.

“Well this is the same, only more so because Lord’s is classed as the home of cricket. It’s an amazing place. I’ve never played there, but I have been once, and it’s a combination of history with a modern stadium.

“It holds 30,000 spectators, but we obviously don’t yet know how many will be there. It could be two or three thousand. Nerves may play a part on the day but if they play as they have in the semi-final and the quarter final they’ll take some beating.

“They can win.”

Alan, a former secondary school teacher, spent 36 years playing for the club’s first team, 25 of them as captain.

The team is currently captained by David Rooney.

They secured their place in the final in July, beating Staffordshire club Rolleston.

Last year’s Copeland Mayor councillor Peter Tyson, who has followed the team’s progress, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant and it’s wonderful that they’re being supported by so many people.”

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