Westmorland League review 2014: Shireshead rip up record books

Shireshead Cricket Club. Westmorland League Division One champions 2014.
Shireshead Cricket Club. Westmorland League Division One champions 2014.

Shireshead were dominant as they secured a league and cup double in the Westmorland League. Historian John Glaister looks back at the 2014 season

It took friends and family reunited but after 25 seasons the hurtin’ is over.

The arrival at Clifton Park of James Rafferty to join his biological brother Nick, and Danny Wilkinson to join his blood brother Peter Wilson at the start of the season, completed the reconstruction of Shireshead’s first team squad.

There is not a weak link and as predictable as tomorrow they swept to the golden double of league champions and league cup winners and no other club deserves that success more.

Since their arrival in the WCL in 1976 few other clubs have given back as much as they have taken out.

Full credit goes to captain Paul Yates. There are plenty of examples of a captain having a team of all stars at his disposal only to make a complete botch of it.

Statistically Paul’s team has re-written the record books but it was his weaving of young players like Rowan Upton and Simon Harrison into the mix that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Equally pleased with their season’s work will be captain of Warton, Gareth Finney, and captain of Westgate, Andrew Hill as both clubs rebuild.

Warton can preen themselves in finishing runners-up mostly on the back of runs from Ryan Nelson and Westgate won out on 20-20 finals day.

All eyes were on Westgate after the loss of the incomparable Wilson-Wilkinson duo but Andy marshalled his troops well.

Arnside found what many have found before them. It is difficult to defend a championship as everybody wants to beat you.

The force that drove them last season had all but blown out by mid-way with four losses.

They are a team of attacking stroke players however, and their 300 against Ambleside was a first in modern times. The First Division record is 305 set by Moor Hospital in 1960.

As the season entered August it looked as though Heysham and Milnthorpe would vie for the bridesmaid spot but both fell away badly.

You need your best players playing all season if any sort of challenge is to be sustained which is why winning a cup competition is small beer in comparison.

At any level of amateur cricket key players playing consistently is central to success. It has to be of concern when good players don’t play.

Burneside and Windermere are the two bedrock teams of the WCL.

In terms of championships won since 1894 no other club comes close. Had it not been for a league rule Burneside would have suffered only their third ever demotion. The last was in 1955.

Ellergreen Park in the Second Division doesn’t bear thinking about, but the times they are a changing.

Ambleside, Silverdale and Sedgwick complete the also-rans.

At Ambleside it was a case of mission accomplished. They survived to fight another year in the Premier Division.

At Silverdale it was very much a case of the ‘Jonny and Moff show’. Jon Mason and Saul Moffatt are specialist opening bowlers and prove time and time again it’s quality bowlers a team needs faced with quality batsmen.

Shireshead were spoilt for choice in this department which is the main reason why they won the championship.

Predicting Shireshead’s success was not rocket science. Nobody predicted how hard Bolton-le-Sands would be hit by the departure of Mark Clarkson to Netherfield.

The stats tell it all though. Shire’s 16 wins from 19 completed games. BLS’s 18 losses from 20 completed games.