Longridge CC celebrate lifting the Palace Shield title

Longridge CC celebrate their Moore and Smalley Palace Shield title
Longridge CC celebrate their Moore and Smalley Palace Shield title
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Longridge CC’s 14-year wait for a Moore and Smalley Palace Shield title ended when they claimed a four-wicket win at New Longton on Saturday.

A rain-reduced game saw Longridge’s bowlers do the damage before their batsmen eventually got them over the finishing line.

Having won the toss and asked their hosts to bat first, Longridge skipper Nick Wilkinson saw his side skittle New Longton for 76 in the 24th over.

The hard work was done up front by their opening bowlers, Jon Millward and Matt Greenall.

They dismissed the top five, all for single figure scores, in taking 2-20 and 3-11 respectively.

Although Paul Haydock (19) and Adam Gillibrand (15) staged a recovery of sorts, Dan Wilson (2-16) and Ian Simpson (3-23) rattled through the lower order to give Longridge a very achievable target.

It was one they achieved during the 17th over, though not without a scare along the way.

Samuel Steeple sent back John Simpson (0) and Zac Christie (7) before Neil Holden (26) and James Fairclough (20) settled any early nerves.

However, their departures triggered a mini-collapse with James Whitehead (1) and Wilkinson (0) both falling victim to Chris Hadfield.

Tom Haworth hung around to end undefeated on 13, joined by Ian Simpson (one not out) in taking Longridge to the title by reaching 77-6.

However, as the latter explained, the nature of victory was not what might have been expected.

“We got within four runs of it and I was out there with Tom,” he said.

“I said to Tom: ‘Let me score the winning runs,’ but then they went and bowled four wides!

“Joking aside, I wasn’t bothered how it came because we had got the job done and it was great in the changing room afterwards.”

Simpson is one of the few survivors from Longridge’s previous Palace Shield success in 2004.

With that in mind, he admitted telling his team-mates that they should cherish every moment of winning this year’s title.

“We made a bit of a meal of it towards the end on Saturday but it’s been a long time coming,” he said.

“I can’t really remember what it was like 14 years ago, except that it was rain-affected game then as well where we had to get the covers off and get the game back on.

“It doesn’t feel the same with age; I just take it all with a pinch of salt now and enjoy the moment but I told the lads to enjoy it.

“People can say the league has been weaker for this reason or that but you still have to go out and win it.

“We’ve won 18 games out of 21 so, with one more game this Saturday, we can potentially end the season with 19 wins.

“That takes a lot of doing but that is testament to the strength in depth of the club with lads who have stepped up or those who have been dropped and then come back to contribute.”