2003 – My Favourite Match

By Paul Hargreaves

After watching the ‘House for over 40 years, picking a single favourite match wasn’t easy. I didn’t necessarily want to pick an obvious one such as the 3 Worsley Cup Finals or a League clinching game. All the finals were memorable. In a way the defeat at Blackburn in 1980 was almost as good as the victories. The Final was more of an event in those days and how proud we were that for the first time we were part of it, even if it became an anti-climax. I suppose the 2012 League winning game against Ramsbottom was definitely one to remember. Burnley had rolled over at Accrington and put us under pressure, but as ‘House wickets began to fall regularly, the young Martin brothers became men, as they kept their heads when others had lost theirs.

Other candidates for most memorable, were the 80-odd run victory against Burnley in 1984. We hardly ever beat the old enemy in those days. Kirti Azad produced a century which all present will still remember and Burnley could get nowhere near our total. I think it was 1987 at Bentgate when Club legend Alan Holden had a last hurrah, inducing a collapse by Champs elect Haslingden, who had Aussie fast bowler Geoff Lawson as pro’.       Many fans will remember fondly epic games when ‘House have had sub-pros in operation. These include great performances by Robert Haynes, David Capel and Asif Mujtaba. The latter took 9 wickets and scored a hundred, certainly earning his fee. Robert Haynes produced one of the most destructive innings ever witnessed at our Liverpool Rd ground against East Lancs and David Capel, also in 1991, had a match winning performance at Seedhill.

After all this faffing about I’ve chosen the 2003 clash between triple-Champions Bacup and Lowerhouse played in mid-July, as my favourite. The visitors were a well supported team as they tried to achieve a fourth consecutive title. It seemed that half their town had come from the hills to cheer them on. Now anybody who knows me knows it takes at least wild horses to shift me from my seat on the Liverpool Rd end but the intensely hot sun that day so me under the trees on the canal side. Bacup batted first and they piled up the runs like an efficient machine. Peter Thompson, their best amateur batter of that era, got a fifty but that was overshadowed by the 79 of Bacup’s immensely popular pro’ Shaun Young. The latter’s nickname was ‘China’ and he could do no wrong for the away fans. The innings closed on 250-3. Lowerhouse had stuck to their task manfully given a blameless pitch and freakishly hot weather.   Just as the ‘House reply was about to begin I got a visit from the legendary Bacup ultra Eddie of Edenfield.  His basic message was how a small Club like ours must love visits from a well supported team such as Bacup even if it resulted in a one-sided game. I hadn’t the heart to argue especially as our opener, Q Ali, was gone for a duck.

Eddie went away laughing after tapping me on the shoulder and telling me not to mind. Lowerhouse had Paul Hitchcock of Walsden and New Zealand as sub-pro’ and we weren’t sure what to expect of him after his bowling had done little to stop the Bacup juggernaut. Many thought he’d only be remembered for the jokes told relating to his namesake, the famous Alfred He actually played really well and was unluckily run out for 50. Against the odds ‘House were putting up a great fight and young Jonathan Finch was playing the innings of his life. He achieved a maiden century and with important cameos from the Lowerhouse Foldsters Blez and Bene, the home team crossed the finishing line in the very last over. Elation followed and an unworthy desire to have a word or two with Eddie. I never found him until our next match with them as I think he’d skulked off. But still a day to treasure.