On Saturday White Coppice’s 19th straight defeat of the season brought the curtains down on a winless campaign.
Bowled out for 23 by Vernon Carus 2nd, the match finished before our resident vet Matt Smith had left the surgery and arrived at the ground. The only good news is the animal he was treating that had delayed him didn’t die.
So how did a proud cricket club like White Coppice formed in 1875 endure such a torrid season? This is the story of the 2017 season and the club that refused to die.
Our best batsman Kyle Dixon was one of a number of players to leave in the close season. He’d been a brilliant servant to the club but decided to join Chorley in the Northern League. At the nets captain Tony Moore couldn’t keep a straight face when he said: “Somebody else will have to get Kyle’s runs – maybe you Magsy.” We both laughed.
Tragically our groundsman from 2016 Fred Entwistle died of cancer over Easter.
Game 1: April 22, 2017 – Garstang
White Coppice 145-6 Garstang 149-1
Starting the season with 10 players was bad enough but effectively finishing it with eight was even worse. One of best batsmen and my best mate Rana Javeed decided to leave the club after a disagreement with a team-mate over a dropped catch. He resurfaced a couple of weeks later in Withnell Fold and his friend and our opening batsman Tariq Hassan joined him. Tariq’s brother Sajid also left. Going to be a long season.
Game 2: April 29th – New Longton
New Longton 260-7 White Coppice 120 all out
Game 3 May 6 – Norcross
Norcross 316-4 Norcross 236 ao
Had a bust-up with opponents’ Rick Blampied when he took the cover off one and didn’t walk and he ended up getting a 50. No problem with people not walking but don’t turn round and say: “You know me lads, I walk if I hit it.” Thanks to Tony Moore’s 90 we were in the game at 229-4 chasing 316-4 but collapsed to 236 all out. Our young all rounder Marcus Eaton emailed me to say he was leaving the club to join Didsbury.
Game 4 May 13 – Withnell Fold
White Coppice 120 ao Withnell Fold 121-3
We collapsed from 64-1 to 120 all out but I reckon we’d have won but for an act of amazing generosity by captain Tony Moore when he decided not to break the wicket when our former player Rana Javeed had brain fade and walked out down the wicket on 0 between balls. Rana won the game with an undefeated 61. It was the final game of the season for one of our best batsmen Dan Hornby because of work commitments.
Game 5 May 20 – South Shore
White Coppice 118 ao South Shore 121-1
Nine-men Coppice were 81-0 with 50s from Tony Moore (again) and Emaran Bajiwala but collapsed to 118 all out with five ducks. Lost by nine wickets.
Game 6 May 27 – Fylde
White Coppice 178-5 Fylde 183-0
Managed to rope my neighbour Jim Lawrenson into playing his first competitive game of senior cricket. He got a duck. I smacked the first two balls of the match for four but that was as good as it got as Fylde won by 10 wickets. Mood not helped when Fylde’s opener Ben Anderson didn’t walk on his way to a 100. To be fair we then dropped him on 98 and 99.
Game 7 June 3 – Hoghton
Hoghton 267-8 White Coppice 109 all out
Tony Moore was unavailable so I was captain and ended up getting reported to the league for reasons I still don’t fully understand. After winning the toss I thought I’d invited Hoghton to bat but the umpires insisted I’d said we’d bat. Told my fellow opener Emaran Bajiwala to “have a look” as we only had nine men but his batting was like a windmill and he was bowled for 4 trying to hit the ball to Preston.
Game 8 June 10 – Whittingham & Goosnargh
First game of the season we didn’t lose after the rain forced an abandonment.
Game 9: June 17 – Longridge
White Coppice 97 all out Longridge 98-1
I turned up an hour late because of my daughter’s football so batted at 10. Still managed to have a row with Longridge after they claimed I nicked one to slip that I was convinced was a bump ball. Tony Moore scored 70 of our 97 runs.
Game 10 June 24 – Fulwood & Broughton 2nds
White Coppice 101 ao F&B 105-5
Managed to rope my daughter’s football coach Michael Nadal into playing and he took three wickets but we still lost by five wickets.
Game 11 July 1- Vernon Carus 2nds
White Coppice 269-4 Vernon Carus 131-0
Amazing effort by our captain Tony Moore (139 not out) and Matt Smith (91 not out) to get us to 269-4. Vernon Carus were 131-0 off 21 overs when the rain came to save them from certain defeat!
Game 12 July 8 –Garstang 2nds
Garstang 2nds 227-8 White Coppice 113 ao
If I live until I’m 100 I’ll never forget Ross Dixon’s bowling spell of 1-36 off two overs. It had everything and I mean everything!
Game 13 July 15 – New Longton
White Coppice 50-6 New Longton 51-0
Found myself captain and wicketkeeper and we only had seven players. Easy thing would have been to forfeit the game but we played and got 50-6 off 27.3 overs. Personal highlight was hitting Paul ‘Happy’ Haydock for a six over the cottages.
Game 14 July 22 – Norcross
Norcross 263-5 White Coppice 138 all out
I don’t advocate cheating but when I gloved one to non-walker Rick Blampied at first slip and was given not out I realised there was a God. I ended up getting 50. Mubarak Patel played his last game of the season for Coppice.
Game 15 July 29 Withnell Fold
White Coppice 19 ao Withnell Fold 21-0
Can it get any worse than this? Took to social media to find some players and secured the services of a couple of ice hockey players Adam McCardle and James Rutter and driving instructor Raja Farhan. Lost the toss on a green wicket and slipped to 7-4. I opened the batting and was proper miffed when I tried to smash Khalid Valimulla over the cottages and spooned it to point. Another 10 wicket defeat. “On the plus side we didn’t drop any catches today,” joked Ross Dixon afterwards.
Game 16 August 5 South Shore
White Coppice 41 all out South Shore 42-1
Not enjoying this captaincy malarkey. Thanks to 20 extras from South Shore’s charitable opening bowlers we more than doubled last week’s total of 19 but our all out total of 41 wasn’t enough. Jim Lawrenson was involved in a funny exchange with the umpire when he was called for running one short. “Why have you done that?” asked Big Jim. “You didn’t ground your bat?” replied the umpire. “No-one told me you had to ground your bat,” was Jim’s unforgettable reply.
Game 17 August 12 Fylde 2nds
Fylde 2nds 235-6 White Coppice 71 all out
Delayed started after 10-men Coppice got stuck on the motorway because of the Blackpool Air Show. We bowled 66 extras, including 58 wides which must be some type of record. We were bowled out for 71 and Jim Lawrenson was incredulous in the changing room afterwards. “Since when can you get stumped off a wide?” he asked. “That’s the rule,” replied Ross Dixon. “Well nobody told me,” replied Jim. Priceless.
Game 18 August 19 Hoghton
White Coppice 111 ao Hoghton 115-9
Tony Moore – who ended up with 809 runs an average of 62 this season – scored 70 of our 111 runs against Hoghton, who won by seven wickets.
Game 19 August 26 Whittingham & Goosnargh
Whittingham & Goosnargh 268-9 White Coppice 161 ao
Our best opportunity to bowl a team out for the first time this season and we dropped 10 catches. Martin Cuerden took 6-71 and hit 42 – both career best figures. We were looking good at 77-0 until I managed to run out Tony Moore. Gutted.
Game 20 September 2 Longridge 2nd
Longridge 272-3 White Coppice 29 all out
The good news is we had 11 players and we got Longridge’s Joe Livesey out first ball of the match. The bad news is we then watched Ian Barton stroke 111. Highlights of the knock are now available on a box set. Tony Moore was out for nine and we were crashed to 29 all out, including five ducks.
Game 21, September 9 Fulwood & Broughton 2nds
White Coppice 76-6 abandoned
Ironic that it took until September 9 that we had the luxury of having too many players. This was the game we identified as winnable but the weather was the only winner and it was abandoned.
Game 22 September 16 Vernon Carus 2nd
White Coppice 23 ao Vernon Carus 25-0
Both Tony Moore and myself were unavailable because of our daughters’football commitments so Martin Cuerden was captain. The season can he summed up by an exchange on WhatsApp between Matt Smith, who works as a vet, and stand-in captain Martin.
Matt: I’ll be as quick as I can. Extremely busy day so probably not going to get there until 2pm.
Martin: 23 all out. Two men short.
Matt: Oh feck.
Jim Lawrenson’s son Max opened the bowling and had to have an x-ray after trying to stop a return drive. We had an end-of-season drink in Chorley on Saturday and reflected on the toughest year in White Coppice’s 142 year history. Division One of the Palace Shield is not the place to learn how to play cricket but I’m incredibly proud that White Coppice didn’t forfeit any games and we’ve still got a club. Up the Coppice!!