1980: These are the men who made history for Lowerhouse Cricket Club on Sunday.

These are the men who made history for Lowerhouse Cricket Club on Sunday.


For the first time in 61 years of trying, they have reached the final of the Lancashire League’s cup competition. And it co-incides with sponsorship being introduced to the League. Their five wicket win over Rishton has put them into the final of the Martini Trophy and already qualified them for £500 in sponsorship money. They could make it £700 if they win the final. Celebrating a memorable day yesterday are the players plus scorer Norman Dale and committee man Clifford Atherton. Lowerhouse vice chairman Jack Hayes said “it’s a marvellous achievement by the players and a proud day for the club.

Peter Higgs wrote a long report of the match, plus interviews.  Match report summarised here. Pictures by Stuart Mason.

Lowerhouse, the Cinderella Club, reached its first cup final, when Indian professional Mohinder Amarnath cut a ball towards the third man boundary and set off for two runs which clinched a famous victory.   The club which had learned to live with failure was through to the final of the league’s newly sponsored Martini Trophy, to scenes of joyous celebration.

Supporters danced in delight, many invaded the playing area, older members basked in the pleasure of it all.  Mohinder Amarnath who has returned to the club this season, was the inspiration behind Amarnath the cup run. On Sunday he took five for 38 as Rishton were bowled out for 97, then hit an unbeaten 53 as Lowerhouse won with five overs and five wickets to spare. In a repeat of their semi final victory over Enfield, Lowerhouse bowled tightly, fielded enthusiastically and batted with the right blend of application and style. A rain affected wicket suited their bowlers, and Eric Whalley, Rishton’s skipper surprised them on winning the toss by electing to bat. Lowerhouse with Alan Holden and Amarnath struck quickly and at the first rain break Rishton were 16 for two.  The next task was to remove Australian pro Brendan McCardle cheaply for four, attempting an off drive on a damp wicket, caught by Tripathi.  At the next heavy shower, Rishton were 41 for five.  On the resumption Rishton’s Barry Hill and John Winkley staged a revival, but a brilliant full length diving catch by Holden at first slip removed Hill. Jon Hartley tempted Ainscough to top edge a catch to Amarnath. Skipper Whalley joined the 6ft 7 in tall, 18 year old Winkley at 71 for 7. Winkley after struggling against Amarnath was now looking confident and the pair put on 21 before Whalley was caught behind off Amarnath. The last wickets fell quickly, Rishton closing at 97 when Winkley was run out, top scoring with 24. The target of 98 looked within Lowerhouse’s grasp, and their supporters were in good voice but taking nothing for granted, having suffered past catastrophes. Brian Higgin after a confident start was out caught, and Amarnath joined Phil Astin, who played anchor to allow Amarnath to play some glorious shots. When McCardle removed Astin, and Keeley fell cheaply, Keith Fairclough was pushed up the order to play the anchor role, and when he was out, victory was by then in sight, with only 27 more needed. Amarnath was playing some delightful shots.  Rishton’s one hope was to remove the pro and get amongst the tail enders but they wasted a run out opportunity. With Jon Hartley removed, Stan Heaton came in to give the victory charge a flourish by hammering the only six of the match off Hill. A couple of twos by Heaton took the score to 96 and he stood aside to leave Amarnath to appropriately score the winning runs. His unbeaten53 was without blemish including 8 fours, and earned him a collection of £38.50. No-one can dispute Lowerhouse’s right to be in the final, and even though they start as underdogs, against either Burnley or East Lancs., if they can maintain their cup form, the fairytale may not be over yet.

Quotes : Jack Hayes, who was born in the house right next to the West End ground, is steeped in the Lowerhouse tradition and praised the back room workers who have made the club the happiest it has been for many years.

Clifford Atherton official in charge : “They deserve to bring this great moment to the club because of their excellent team spirit.”

Alan Holden, “Jimmy was magnificent, everyone played their part.”

Mohinder Amarnath, “I am pleased because Lowerhouse is a fine club and deserves to be in the final after all this time.”

Brian Higgin the club’s longest serving player: “After 21 years at Lowerhouse it has been worth the wait. This has to be the highlight of my career.”

Keith Fairclough, the only member of the Lowerhouse team to have played in a Worsley cup final (for Burnley in 1975): “It was easier knowing we only had a small total to chase, we had only to play straight, nudge singles and wait for the bad ball to hit.”

Tom Sullivan, “I must be the only specialist batsman to get to a cup final without facing a ball. I’m the lucky mascot. “

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