Clitheroe seal Lancashire League title in first season

Clitheroe committee members with England World Cup winner Alex Hartley and Steven and Anna Lancaster
Clitheroe committee members with England World Cup winner Alex Hartley and Steven and Anna Lancaster

Foster’s Lancashire League newcomers Clitheroe have been crowned champions at the first attempt – on the back of four-successive Ribblesdale League titles.

The Ribble Valley outfit, who opened up an unassailable gulf between themselves and closest rivals Darwen with one game remaining, also took the Twenty20 trophy at Birch Hall last month.

Clitheroe face a wait to receive their trophy after a rival club lodged an official complaint, as Lowerhouse chairman Stan Heaton said: “Circumstances have lead to a senior member of the club executive being made aware that three Clitheroe players are receiving remuneration for playing cricket for Clitheroe Cricket Club. This is against the rules of the Lancashire League.”

Clitheroe will keep their counsel until further notice, and skipper Paul Gaskell focused on the title win: “It felt strange not doing it on the field but when we found out that the Darwen game was off the boys were overjoyed.

“It’s been a hell of a season and a huge challenge, Darwen have pushed us all the way, so to come out on top is pretty special.

“As a club we take a lot of pride in it. The thirds have won their league too and the seconds have done really well. It’s been nice to come across and show that we can compete.

“We’ve played some good cricket and we’ve had to because there are some very good teams in this division.

“It will be very special (to receive two new trophies). The season couldn’t have gone any better at all. Can we eclipse this? I’m not sure that we can.”

Clitheroe were the undisputed kings of the Ribblesdale League, winning six trophies in their last four seasons, but Gaskell admits that doing the double at this level is a completely different kettle of fish.

Having lost just three league games all season, Gaskell said: “There are some big names so to come out on top in our first season is a really proud moment. It’s totally different to our previous titles. We were expected to win it in the Ribblesdale League, whereas in the Lancashire League we thought that we could do well, but actually getting over the line and pulling it off is on another world.

“We’re a tight group, we’re all good friends, and we’ve got some good players. To win the title with this bunch of lads is difficult to put in to words. We won the Twenty20 trophy as well and we had a good run in the LCB Knockout Cup. “The Lancashire League as a name is massive. We’ll always be proud of what we achieved in the Ribblesdale League but to come across and do the double has made it the perfect start for us.”

Clitheroe take on Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday as the curtain closes on the 2017 campaign.