This week in Lisburn Cricket took in a superbly staged senior cup final at Wallace Park, and then stayed there for two home matches for the rinky dinky doos.
On Friday the club hosted the Senior Cup final for the first time in our proud 175 year history. In the run up to the game, questions had been asked by a small, but at times vocal, band of doom merchants about our ability to stage such a prestigious event. At around 5.30pm on Friday evening, there wasn’t an awful lot of noise emanating from those parts and if there had been, it would have been completely drowned out by the words of praise coming from others. It was, quite simply, an excellent effort from all at the club. The Park looked magnificent, the outfield was like a bowling green, the wicket, whilst not a road, was a decent, fair deck offering a little to bowlers but yet allowing batsmen who were prepared to be patient, the opportunity to play some shots and to build an innings. As several observers have pointed out, before, during and after, since when did it become necessary to play a final on a featherbed that is a batsmans paradise and a bowlers grave? Does that always produce the most exciting cricket?
Anyway, the day itself was kind weatherwise and Waringstown batted first, totalling 190, ten short of a figure that would have meant my wallet felt a little heavier, but even those most critical of the Wallace Park pitches this season would probably have to admit that this score looked short of par at the time, and that under normal circumstances (ie not the pressure cauldron of a cup final), the total would have been significantly higher. Certainly the Waringstown skipper believed this to be the case as he read the riot act to his charges at the interval by all accounts.
As it turned out, it was plenty, as some of the CSN batsmen wilted under the expectations of victory. But from a staging perspective, it was more than job done as the biggest crowd in a decade watched on. And there were plenty of characters kicking about the place. Jeff Maguire from Dundrum was there, happy to lay bets on the outcome whilst supporting the LCC bar, the CSN boys had erected their own hospitality area and enjoyed the banter, whilst supporting the LCC bar, plenty of other neutrals were down from various clubs, supporting the event and the LCC bar, and there was, as usual, a large and at times vocal Waringstown contingent down to watch the match. The NCU were delighted with the gate money and, with the assistance of a good few CSN guys hanging about after the match, the club ended up reasonably content with the bar profits at the end of the day.
Those profits were undoubtedly boosted by the presence of two firm favourites at LCC – Messrs Dalzell and Jameson. Billy was in his element, sporting his Riche Benaud outfit (was it the white, the off-white, the bone, the ivory or the beige he was wearing?) and enjoying a tincture or two throughout proceedings. Perhaps it was a mixture of that and the sunshine but by the early evening Billy appeared to be a touch on the tired side, as he set a Wallace Park record for the slowest time to get from one side of the ground to the other as he was leaving for the evening. With his patient Mrs doing the steering along with Mrs Dalzell (Fred commentating from a few yards behind) Billy eventually made it to the benches on the far side of the ground where he took the opportunity to enjoy a rest before his car was summonsed. A great day had by the boys, great to see.
The celebrations, well I suppose thats not really the right word as the CSN players and supporters weren’t exactly celebrating, went on well into the evening and a tired, but happy match manager Dean Simpson enjoyed the banter with his former North teammates. All in all, a super effort from Dean and his team. Shirley and the ladies, as ever, did an excellent tea, Cecil and the his helpers had the ground looking perfect, the young lads and boys like the Glassys did a fine job with other duties including car parking, a shout out too to the City Council for their support on the day with various things. Lisburn CC may not be everyone’s cup of tea as cup final host but who knows, we might just be asked to do it some time in the future and we guarantee that as with this game, no stone will be left unturned in an attempt to make it a good un.
On then to Saturday, and it was a case of after the Lord Mayors Show. The temporary seating which had been fairly packed the day before was still there, but there wouldn’t have been any need for a queue to get a good vantage point, with CIYMS 2s providing the opposition on this occasion. That didn’t stop another LCC favourite, Bacardi Abe from getting down nice and early to get a seat in the stands and he was treated to a fine batting performance from the 2nd XI who notched up a season’s best 297 against their opponents. Star of the show was Crowebar who laced a meaty 84, which was highlighted by a number of sixes. Three of them are worth a mention. His first was his most fortuitous – it was almost a lob wedge effort that should really have been caught before it ballooned over the rope by about an inch. His second was absolutely massive – straight out of the screws and despite having a headwind to deal with, still landed halfway into the football pitches at the cycle track road end. His third was the most controversial, for sadly, the wrong reasons, as, for the first time anyone can recall at the LCC, it careered straight into the skull of a passer by. It really was an awful incident, with the poor lady being hit square on the forehead. An ambulance was called but thankfully, the lady was in charge of all her senses and it later transpired that there was no serious injury. At the tea interval some of the boys were speculating on the legal ramifications of this incident, and the Noo pointed out that the club and the council would be insured “up to the eyeballs” to which big Glassy opined that would be of no use. We enquired as to why he had formed this view to which he responded “Sure it hit her above the eyeballs”. We shouldn’t really laugh at this, but it was quite funny. On a serious note however, the club will be liaising with the council to see how this risk will be minimised in future, even though we believe it was the first such incident in over 100 years of cricket at Wallace Park.
After the interval, we set out to defend the target, which we did with ease as we bowled and fielded pretty well. I say pretty well, which brings us to the award of the Monty for the week. The exception to the general standard of fielding on show came off the bowling of yours truly. One of the CIYMS batters clouted one of my offerings to long off. The ball was in the air for a reasonable amount of time and landed about 3 feet away from the fielder. Good effort, you may think. Except for the fact that the fielder in question had quite clearly seen a ghost or some other scary phenomenon as he had remained glued to the spot the entire time the ball was in the air. This weeks Monty, for his impersonation of the Venus de Milo (who, even with no arms, would surely have made a better effort at a catch) is Peter “Doaky” Ferguson. Rumour has it that Doaky is off to Covent Garden next weekend where he should surely make a considerable amount of money!!!
One other highlight from Saturday that is worth a mention came via Twitter, and the erstwhile voice of NCU CricketLive, David Holmes. Describing events at the firsts game at CIYMS Holmesy reported that Peter Connell, CIYMS last chance of a win, had been well caught by one of our fielders. Little did Holmesy maybe appreciate how appropriate his description was, as he noted that “Jenny Bell” had taken the catch!! Good work Holmesy.
Talking of girls, the word on the street the next morning was that club CDO Ryan Ervine had excelled his own personal best. Few at the club could have believed that he would have stooped any lower than he did on the pre-season tour to the North West (cf Milwaukee badger) but apparently he surpassed even that effort on Saturday night. If there was a Monty for this category, big Ryano would have had it sewn up by now but the lad is young, free and single, so fair play we say.
Back to the cricket then and the last action of a busy weekend at Wallace Park was the visit of North West side Brigade to the Park to take on the 2s in the Ulster Plate quarter final. This was, at times, a feisty affair, with the normally relatively placid Noo getting fired up by some of the comments being aimed at some of his teammates by the opposition. This served to good effect for us as he steamed in to bowl as quick as he has done in some time and we were successful in the match. We had earlier set the platform for the win by batting well for the second time in 2 days, with Jenny getting 73 and Slimbo getting 48. They shared a decent stand during which Jenny suggested something that the watching crowd were most amused by. His partner Slim clipped one down to the fine leg boundary, an area bereft of fielders. Helped by the fact that the Brigade boys thought it was going for four led Jenny to shout something you don’t hear shouted at Slim too often – “we can run four here Slim” (or something like that). The idea of Slim running an all run four filled spectators with some hilarity but as Bellers turned for the 4th he realised that it probably wasn’t on as Slim was just about beside him completing his second run and setting back for his third! There hasn’t been a greater juxtaposition between the relative abilities of two runners between the wickets since the day Timmy Cockram was batting with Pedro Simpson at Shaws Bridge! This is TWILC…..out.