As the sun sets on the 2017 season, Chris Maguire hands out his end-of-season cricket awards. As usual they’re a mixture of serious and tongue-in-cheek.

Laurence Olivier Award for Acting

The winner is Norcross legend Rick Blampied. After taking the cover off one against White Coppice he turned to us and said: “You know me lads, I walk if I hit it.” Just to rub salt into the wounds the wannabee Zlatan Ibrahimovic lookalike then got a 50.

Cricket  Karma Award

I don’t advocate cheating but when I gloved Norcross’ Jordan Delph straight to Rick Blampied at first slip in the return fixture and got given not out I realised there was a cricket god. It was worth standing my ground just to hear Zlatan Blampied say: “After that you can’t ever criticise me again.” I ended up getting 50 so we’re now quits.

Best Shot of the Year Award

It won’t live long in the memory for most but my lofted cover drive for two off Fulwood & Broughton’s Matthew Hurst on September 9 had huge significance. It meant I finished the season with 274 runs at an average of 21.08 – one more run than the Norcross Zlatan Rick Blampied, who scored 273 runs at 21. Double Karma.

Best Bowler of the Year

You only have to check the averages out to realise 2017 was definitely a bowling year. St Annes’ Matthew Grindley impressed with 66 wickets in the Northern League but my winner is Torrisholme’s veteran Graham ‘Chubby’ Lee, who took 50 wickets at an average of 11.20.  The rumour is Chubby’s contact means he gets an Indian takeaway every time he gets a wicket but I have it on good authority he gets fed every time he beats the bat.


Best Young Bowler of the Year

Look out for young Longridge spinner Daniel Wilson, who took an impressive 69 wickets. I turned up late for our game against Longridge  2nds so batted at number 10. I nicked him to slip but was convinced it was a bump ball so didn’t walk. The umpire agreed, prompting an angry reaction from a couple of the Longridge lads but not from young Wilson, who went back to his mark. I then hit him for a straight six but he just pulled his length back next ball and I got caught at mid-on. The only constructive advice I would give him is he spends a lot of time at third man or fine leg so seems on the periphery when he’s not bowling.

Best Batsman of the Year

I know I’m bias but White Coppice captain Tony Moore has been a legend on and off the pitch. Our troubles are well known but Tony’s 809 runs at an average of 62 was a Herculean effort. Special mention to Vernon Carus veteran Andrew Tate, who plundered 535 runs at 66. Not bad for a player with a serious back condition.

Best Umpire of the Year

I know the obvious choice would be Dave Jenkins, who won the Nompere Trophy winner, which is named after the late Brian Costin, or fellow Palace Shield umpires Geoff Sheard, Martin Burke and John Smith but I’m going for Dave Rees. He umpired us against Whittingham & Goosnargh and turned down 3,457 appeals in one match for the simple reason they weren’t out. A lesser umpire would have buckled.

Best father and son hair styles

The winner is Norcross veteran Ian Davies and son Jeremy, who has moved to Fleetwood. I can forgive Jeremy’s long hair because of his age but Ian looks like a chunky version of Peter Stringfellow. Quite what possesses the Ipswich Town fan to pull his hair back with an elastic band is beyond me but what chance of Jeremy got?

Club of the Year

My vote goes to Garstang Cricket Club, the Palace Shield answer to the Galacticos. The ground was devastated by a flood last year so to come back to win the Premier Division was a top effort. I’d like to take some of the credit because I managed Garstang’s captain Michael Wallings in a football match at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium in May and showed him how to win

Lifetime Achievement Award

I’m 45 so when 56-year-old Leyland captain  David Makinson bowled himself into the Northern Cricket League record books I was delighted. He became league’s leading wicket taker of all time when Lancaster’s Ben Simm became his 1,349th victim. Well done Dave.

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