Mike Atherton: Village Cup close to my heart

My earliest memory of competitive cricket: it was the searing summer of 1975 and I was sitting, if the pavilion was at twelve o’clock, at quarter to the hour, surrounded by what felt like many thousands to a seven-year-old boy but was probably only a thousand or two. The match was Woodhouses Cricket Club against Read Cricket Club in the Lancashire area final of what was then the John Haig Village Knockout.

The match ended in a high-scoring tie, if memory serves, which Woodhouses won by dint of losing fewer wickets and my dad got some runs, smashing the clock face on the front of the pavilion with a lofted straight drive, which was a rare event, given that he hit as few sixes as I did. With the exception of the crowd, which rendered the day unusual, it was a scene that could have been played out anywhere across England.

In those days Woodhouses was what you would call a bona fide rural, farming village, surrounded by preciously-guarded green belt on all sides and full of working pig farms. It was said by the villagers that there were more pig farms per square mile in Woodhouses than in any other village in the country, a statistic that I could never verify, although the smell and the noise on a daily basis rendered it perfectly possible.

There was a pig farm at three o’clock to the pavilion owned by a farmer named Len — he specialised also in unbelievably vicious dogs — and in those days the piggery was still very much in action. At around tea time during the match, the swill would be served and the smell (I’m told this as I don’t have a sense of smell) and the noise put a firm spoke in the wheel of the imagined idyll that is village cricket. Still, it was an authentic scene.

Not much happened in the village. There were exotic stories of members of the Quality Street Gang — a group of villains who allegedly ran much of the criminal scene in Manchester in the 1970s — some of whom were said to live near by. There was great excitement when a retired Everton footballer moved into a swanky house at the southern end of the village.

Gradually, the shops shut, although the pubs — the Dog and Partridge and the Woodhouse Gardens — remained. The D&P had a beer garden and a crown green bowling lawn, where I used to play bowls against my grandad.

These days, some of the green belt has been eroded, although the village is still surrounded by open countryside. The extension of the M61 runs near by, which is not that much of a nuisance to be honest, and gave some of the locals a happy financial windfall.

Most of the pig farms are no longer in operation, many having converted to stabling horses and some of the land has been flogged off to build housing. You can still differentiate it from the surrounding areas of urban sprawl in between Manchester and Oldham, but the contrast is less sharp than before.

The cricket club remains a focal point of the village, though. Some of those playing now were doing so when I played my last few matches for the club in the late 1980s, before I joined Lancashire. Some of the players are sons of cricketers I played with, and cricketers I grew up watching with my dad. The club has retained a village feel — a community in the true sense of the word — even though the village is much changed.

In 1972, Ben Brocklehurst, then owner of The Cricketer magazine, and Aiden Crawley, the chairman of the National Cricket Association, had the idea to set up a village competition to showcase both the strength of village cricket and the unique spirit that accompanies it. The rules of engagement are fairly simple: clubs must be in a village — defined by being surrounded by open country and having a population of fewer than 5,000 — and they mustn’t play paid professionals. It is, unashamedly, an amateur competition. The great incentive is that the final is played at Lord’s.

Woodhouses entered the competition for the first time in 1973 and they have played in it every year since. Playing in a competitive league in the north of England (the Lancashire County League) has meant that the club have paid professionals in the past, often decent ones in the case of Farokh Engineer, who spent a couple of post-retirement years in Woodhouses colours, and TE Srinivasan, who played one Test match for India. But those professionals have always given way in the village cup.

The dream of playing at Lord’s for Woodhouses has been a constant and over the years the club have reached the quarter-finals of the village knockout on three occasions and, before this year, the semi-finals once, in their centenary year in 2008. I played in one of those quarter-finals as a 15-year-old against a club called Forge Valley in Scarborough.

It ended in a defeat and a badly broken thumb for me — ironically the only bone I broke as a cricketer, amateur or professional. Who was that bowler, I wonder, who did what Ambrose, Walsh and Donald could not?

It has probably become easier to progress in the competition now. In 1972, 795 village clubs entered the competition; this year that number was down to 286. The decline is partly because of the decline of village life in general, and the growing urbanisation of England, but also because of the strength of league cricket. In the past, there were fewer organised leagues and therefore the village knockout was the only competition for many village clubs

This year, Woodhouses, for the first time in their history, have made it to Lord’s. They have done so by becoming Lancashire village champions and by beating the winning representatives of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and, last week (extra special, this), Yorkshire. The final of the competition, now sponsored by Persimmon Homes and still run, commendably, by The Cricketer magazine, is on September 4. I hope Mick Hunt prepares a decent strip somewhere near the middle.

The names of the players will not be familiar to you, but some of them are to me. Doug Sloan played when I played; Ryan Sloan’s father, Darrell, opened the bowling when I played; Nick Hardman’s father, David, was my opening partner when I played my first match for the seniors aged 14, in 1982. Gareth Tuson’s father, David, took four wickets in four balls in that match against Read in 1975. The president of the club is Gill Belfield, whose husband Richard was the president for many years but who died of cancer last year. She is the granddaughter of Jesse Clare, who founded the club in 1908.

In village cricket, the lines of continuity and community run strong. For Woodhouses, the realisation of a near 40-year dream is a wonderful thing.

This article was published in The Times on August 11 and is reproduced by kind permission. Mike Atherton is Chief Cricket Correspondent of The Times, former England captain and is the Sports Journalists’ Association Columnist of the Year.

The Persimmon Village Cup final, between Woodhouses and Rottingdean, is at Lord’s on Sunday September 4. Tickets available from MCC ticket office 0207 432 1000, £10 for adults, £5 for 16 and under and over 65.

This entry was posted in Club cricket, Featured Articles, Features, NVC2011 season, The Village Cup, Village and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Mike Atherton: Village Cup close to my heart

  1. Justin Hemming says:

    Didn’t think it was very good for Woodhouses to escape punishment for fielding an ineligible player when precedents have already been set, or charge entry for Adults in the semi-final; not really in the spirit of the competition.

    • Brian Cooper says:

      Justin I agree entirely how this club was allowed to remain in the competition I do not know. Stainsby Hall CC blew the whistle on them after they had played the ineligible player in two previous rounds that we know of. All the Cricketer would do was to bann this player from the semifinal and final, they took the easy option. I recall when Yorkshire broke the rules maybe 2 years ago the ECB turfed them out of their competition and rightly so.

  2. David Long says:

    The bowler who broke your thumb was Martin Shepherdson who was the captain of Forge Valley who later collected the Cup at Lords on our winning the Village Comp that year. Ironically I was Chairman that year.

  3. Ronald Rogers says:

    Justin,

    Please see my other comment about charging for this grass-roots level,
    Bad enough in the final but in the semi-final aswell. Ridiculous.

    If what you say is true, seems like one rule for one team and different for others, could this be because a certain Atherton was previously in the ranks and has contacts to clear the issue,

    Sounds like a sham to me.
    Here’s hoping Rottingdean give those cheats a good hiding in the final.
    After all, cheats never prosper, do they?!

    • carol Swards says:

      Oh what a shame that Woodhouses completely SMASHED Rottingdean in the final! FYI the ‘ineligible player’ was not ‘ineligible’ for most part of the competition. Get your facts rights and keep your sour comments to yourself.

      • Andrew Watts says:

        ” not ineligible for most part” of the competition – what sort of justification is that?
        You are either eligible or not and Woodhouses have clearly been treated far too leniently. This is most certainly not what the Village Final is about – shame on the Cricketer and the organisers.

  4. DAVID ROBINSON says:

    NO WONDER FOLK FROM YORKSHIRE ARE DESCRIBED AS SCOTSMEN WITH ALL THE GENEROSITY WRUNG OUT.2 QUID DONATION TO HELP CRICKET SURVIVE & PROSPER IN THIS DAY AND AGE-IT’S HARDLY PREMIER LEAGUE PRICES IS IT-OH I FORGOT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE A CLUE ON THAT SUBJECT WOULD THEY!

    • Brian Cooper says:

      YES BUT WE DO NOT FIELD INELIGIBLE PLAYERS IN THE VILLAGE CUP BUT THERE AGAIN ONE OF THE FINALISTS HAS GOT AWAY WITH IT AND WE DO NOT TAKE COLLECTIONS FOR TOP RUN SCORERS WHEN THE VILLAGE CUP RULES PROHIBIT ANY PAYMENT WHATSOEVER APART FROM TRAVEL EXPENSES.

  5. Ronald Rogers says:

    David,

    What point are you trying to make with your comment.

    I dont follow.

    Ronald

    • Brian Cooper says:

      i THINK HE MEANS ALL YORKSHIRE FOLK ARE TIGHT AND THAT WE AINT GOT A PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL TEAM IN THE COUNTY. PRETTY IRRELEVANT WHEN WE ARE DISCUSSING RULE BREAKING WITH LITTLE PUNISHMENT FOR DOING SO.

  6. PETER MCLEOD says:

    HAVING FOLLOWED THE VILLAGE CUP FOR SEVERAL SEASONS I HAVE ALWAYS ASSUMED THAT IT WAS PLAYED BY TRUE VILLAGE CRICKETERS WHO LOVE THE GAME AND COULD ONLY DREAM OF ONE DAY PLAYING ON THE HALLOWED TURF-THE ABSOLUTE PINNACLE OF ANY CRICKETERS PLAYING CAREER
    IT WOULD APPEAR NOW THAT PERHAPS THE VILLAGE CONCEPT IE AMATEURS PLAYING THE GAME THEY LOVE IS GETTING TAINTED BY SOME WHO WANT TO WIN AT ALL COST SHAME ON YOU WOODHOUSES CC AND SHAME ON THE GOVERNING BODY FOR ACCEPTING THEIR REASONS FOR WHAT WHAT HAD HAPPENED BUT STILL ALLOWING THEM TO CONTINUE IN THE COMPETITION
    IF THEY WIN IT WILL BE A TAINTED VICTORY

  7. Ronald Rogers says:

    Referring to football on a cricket site. Does he have an IQ of 5.?

    Maybe they should leave a Michael Atherton’s local club fund bucket my the exit gate from now on. I though the looting was bad but this in the spirit of cricket is a step to far.

  8. Justin Hemming says:

    David Robinson: In all the years I’ve watched Village Cup cricket I’ve never been charged entry before; hope you don’t rely on those incomes to keep your club running. Oh, that’ll be your Premier League mentality, spending beyond your means.

    Woodhouses appearance at Lords under these circumstances dirties the nature of the competition, promoting fair cricket and giving the chance for village cricketers to play at Lords. Playing for Northants is NOT village cricket.

    http://www.northantscricket.com/news/2011/burton-and-sweeney-boost-seconds

  9. Jane P says:

    It’s disappointing on so many levels that Woodhouses have been allowed to get away scot free with cheating in a village cricket competition. It’s yet another symptom of weak leadership – it would have been so much fairer for all concerned for them to have been disqualified from the competition – how could anyone believe they did not know they were fielding an almost professional player?!

  10. R.S says:

    I’d just like to point out that hardly any of you know the ins and outs of Woodhouses C.C, nor how we conduct ourselves. None of the players are so-called ‘cheats’, and the player that has been flagged for being ineligable was TOTALLY unaware of the circumstances. Had he known neither he nor the club would have allowed him to play. I personally find it pathetic that you’re all slagging off a club that is very hospitable to visitors, and it’s been a tradition that we charge on the gate, it’s not eing greedy as some may think. I was one of the players for Woodhouses in that game, and some of the abuse i took from you Yorkshire folk was apalling. None of you bought any drinks from the bar, and hly any of you put in for a collection, something any other club would have done. Stop calling the club cheats, we’re nothing like that, it sounds more like sour grapes to me from you guys who were beaten by a better team, accept it and move on. Thanks

    • Oriel Rogerson says:

      How could you or the club be unaware that Sam Sweeney had played for Northants 2ndX1 V Notts 21/06/11 VLeicestershire 29/06/11 V Derbyshire 20/07/11 and then he tripped off to Northants again for match V Worcester 27/07/11 just days after the Village Cup semifinal. The three earlier matches were the ones rendering him illegible for the Village Cup and it plainly states in the rules that a player who plays in two or more games for a 1st class county is disqualified from playing.
      So far as paying for entry the only other club to my knowledge who makes a charge of £1 is Houghton Main but this covers as a raffle ticket as well. Drinks were bought in the bar particularly by members of Sessay 2nds, raffle tickets were bought by some supporters but no donation was given when a collection was made for a player. Your accusation of abuse by Yorkshire folk is completed unfounded. I might well draw your attention to the action of some Woodhouses supporters when the first coach left the ground after the game.

    • Oriel Rogerson says:

      RS. I do apologise most sincerely I got the date of Sam’s fourth match for Northants right but I should have said 3 days after the quarter final, which was the 24th July..

  11. Mike Hamnett says:

    Village cricket has always produced one eyed and disingenuous rubbish from losers. A collection is taken to pay for a jug, not as some form of under the table payment and to compare any recent goings on across the country to a dispute in a game of cricket is frankly a comment made in staggeringly poor taste. People have died during the looting Mr Rogers, they have lost so much and your comment shows just how sad and pointless you are. It’s Sunday afternoon amateur cricket, NOTHING MORE. I hope Woodhouses win because I played there for 20 years, under 13s upwards but more than that, I hope that the people above take a moment to perhaps get some perspective…I won’t hold my breath.

  12. Neil Warnock says:

    All this whingeing is very poor quality, please refer to my latest book
    ‘Sour Grapes for all occasions’ an everyday tale of Yorkshire folk.

  13. Jennifer F says:

    It deeply saddens me to read the comments on this article – Woodhouses C C did not cheat in any way at all, they submitted their defence to the Governing Body of this Competition, in no way did they influence the outcome of the decision and would have accepted any decision with good grace. All I can say is that the club that complained did not loose because of “an almost professional” but because they just did not play well on the day in fact the player they complained about had a terrible game and Woodhouses would have won without him. I really do not understand the aggression coming from the contributers to this page. I only hope that the final is a good game played in the correct spirit and that the cricketers enjoy the experience good luck to all 22 players.

  14. Oriel Rogerson says:

    Atherton started his career at Woodhouses CC when he was a boy, they obviously instilled sportsmanship qualities in the boy as later the then England Captain was caught tampering with the ball playing International cricket. It is obvious from previous comments, that this club still believes that winning at all costs is more important rather than encouraging all players to play within the rules of this once noble game. The Cricketer Magazine is also in the dock as due to its lack of spine has condoned poor sportsmanship. To make amends they should not invite this club to compete next year, this would send a warning to all teams that cheating in any form will not be tolerated. Return the competition to where it belongs grass roots players as it started out in 1972.

    • You’re a sad person aren’t you, Mr Sour grapes. Your team wasn’t good enough! End of! I was at the semi final and was quite appalled by the Yorkshire fans! Not only did they almost FAINT when they were asked to pay 2 pounds entry (which funded transport to Lords) but they also smuggled their own cheap booze in and left mounds of litter afterwards. Delightful behaviour, I’m sure!!

  15. Steve Airey says:

    At the risk of bringing football back in to the equation, if you field an ineligible player in a league competition you lose points, if you do the same in a cup competition you are expelled from the competition. It seems that in cricket this does not apply and I always thought cricket prided itself on fair play but maybe I am wrong. At least there is an honesty in the dishonesty of diving footballers, this is just plain wrong…..

  16. R.S says:

    @Steve Airey:

    Have you completely missed what the last 4 comments have been saying mate, or are you just purely stubborn ? Because we’ve just said that we didn’t ‘cheat’, but totally unaware of the circumstances…
    Yea, cheats should be put to bed, good job we didn’t cheat then isn’t it! Sort out your facts, all of you!

  17. VIC WILLIAMS says:

    Oh dear! “The player didn’t know he was ineligible” Since when was ignorance a defence? Did he only realise he was ineligible when he was found out? Reminds me of the MP’s who were so sorry for breaking the law!!! Only when they were caught.
    Did Woodhouses play in the spirit of the laws of cricket?
    Never mind, we know now that a “big name” can sway things…………..maybe the village cricket competition could be moved to Pakistan? Then we could place bets on the outcome – or perhaps not!

  18. DAVID ROBINSON says:

    Whilst I am a former player(fortunately realised I was no longer good enough )& a past member of the club’s committee I no longer have a role at the club other than watching from the boundary edge & mentioning that we didn’t slide around to stop the ball like that in our day! I played in the Haig Village Cup the first time we entered in 1973 and have loved the competition ever since. You visit places in the UK where you might never otherwise go to, and generally speaking the welcome you get at clubs is wonderful-a special mention here to Shipston on Stour this year-their hospitality was fantastic. Occasionally games are played with ‘feeling’ but there’s nothing wrong with that-sport is competitive,& a pint & a chat in the bar afterwards is the traditional way of encouraging fellowship. I can say with my hand on my heart that WCC is an honourable club and it saddens me that the term cheat is being used by individuals who are assuming they know the full story. The Cricketer made a decision on the facts and the assertion that Mike Atherton had some influence on this decision is frankly ludicrous and probably libellous. As for charging at the gate I can’t believe the comments I read in this blog. Surely anyone involved in running & organising amateur sport must be aware that the financial pressure on keeping clubs alive is as acute today as ever it was. It has already been pointed out that WCC has traditionally made a nominal charge for entry to the later stages of the Village cup and I have to say this is a most sensible decision, surely every income stream should be explored in order to promote the game at all levels. Personally, without trying to blow my own trumpet I have contributed through sponsorship and other ways a considerable amount of money over the years, but so have many many other like minded members, and it brings joy to my heart to see the lads who have come through the junior set up now in the first XI. In fact of the probable team to play at Lord’s,8 have come through the ranks and Woodhouses has been their one and only club. WCC is a well run club and I shall be proud to be at Lord’s after 38 years of making friends in the competition, knowing full well we achieved our ambition fair and square.

    • BFC says:

      David as former player with Woodhouses please could you explain to me how the club secretary, selection committee, club captain etc did not know that the player in question was playing for Northants CC on four occasions three of which made him ineligible for the Village Cup. In most village teams every one knows exactly what other players are up to even such minor details of when they are next going to pick their nose?

      • Charles says:

        This debate could be put bed if the one outstanding question could be answered by a spokesman for the club how it was overlooked that the player in question was illeligible certainly for the quarter final and maybe the match before that. If a straightforward answer is forthcoming we could all look forward to an excellent match at Lords and then cricket would be the winner.

      • Terry says:

        BFC in lancashire villages it is common for us to lead our own lives we do not have to report to anyone when we want to leave the village or partake in an activity without the prior knowledge and approval of club officials, our mothers, fathers brothers or sisters and please I am well aware that in some villages these may actually be the same person. Of course I am in no way suggesting this is the case in any yorkshire village 8-).

        PS could any of you friendly yorkshire chaps suggest a good hotel we can stay in for the night before the final?

  19. Kevin W R says:

    If it was that much of an issue why didn’t the first team he played against who lost to WCC complain regardng the said player ?????? No sour grapes from any other sides !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • P Johnson says:

      That was probably due to the fact that Woodhouses didnt break the rules until the quarter final when Stainsby Hall questioned the eligibility of two of Woodhouses players Sweeney and Swards ,who previously played for Tasmania in representitive games .Why these players are still at Woodhouses seems strange when either could pick up 2-3 hundred a match playing in the Lancashire League ?.

      • Luke Swards is married to an English lady, has a 2 year old daughter and has been resident in the village for almost 5 years. I’ll give you a thousand pounds if he’s ineligible! SOUR SOUR SOUR!

  20. The Cricketer says:

    In response to the numerous comments about the Village Cup rules, The Cricketer would like to explain its decision regarding Woodhouses and their quarter-final victory.

    The club fielded a player in previous rounds who had played a first-class counties second XI match. This was within the rules. However, the same player took part in another second XI match which ended two days before the quarter-final, in which he also played.

    This infringed rule 11b (iii) – which states that he cannot play in two or more such games – but after a full investigation the magazine accepted this was a pure oversight rather than a strategic infringement of the rules.

    The Village Cup clearly states that the organisers are free to decide the sanctions against a club infringing the rules. In this case, the magazine ruled it was a genuine mistake but decreed that the player concerned take no further part in the competition.

    The Cricketer reached its decision after a thorough investigation of the circumstances, which was accepted by losing quarter-finallists Stainsby Hall with good grace. The reason the magazine goes to great lengths to organise and administer the Village Cup is because of our commitment to grass-roots cricket. This will carry on for years to come.

  21. Paul Hague says:

    Huge congratulations to my home club Woodhouses CC on being in the final. From what i have seen of the competition this year they could have fielded their second side and still comfortably reached the final. All these sour grapes and bitter slurs about ‘cheating’ will not be enough to cover the fact that many of the sides were just not good enough to go all the way. Woodhouses have always produced fantastic young, homegrown cricketers, and will continue to do so. They are a ‘true’ village club who down to the members, committee and players continue to support youth cricket and also run a welcoming friendly, family club.

  22. Ronald Rogers says:

    Great to see so many people getting involved and having there say, I still dont agree with the decision like many others and you cant say they never knew he wasnt playing, that is plain daft.

    Here’s hoping Rottingdean give those toerags a good hiding,

    P.S. With all the money made from your semi-final you should be able to get a 8bed dorm at a hostel or better yet a nice travelodge. That will be a nice treat for all your hardwork etc…

    • Oh dear, Ronny McDonald – Rottingdean got a thrashing!!!! Woodhouses deserved to win especially after the pathetic, sniping comments the likes of you have made. WELL DONE THE HOUSES!!!!!!!

  23. Ronald Rogers says:

    Thanks for the Link Justin Hemming.

    Cricketer – Remind me what is Grass Roots about Northants..??

    Thanks,
    A very confused Ronald.

    • J.R says:

      I am not surprised some people from the other side of them hills are confused .They seem to have the same opinion no matter what anyone says to them and are not prepaired to listen to what any one else has to say, so i suppose it is pointless me saying what am am going to say. well what the the heck
      we at woodhouses would not knowingly field players who do not qualify to play, we have been victim ourselves of this in the past .You may or not be surprised to know but it was from one of the villages in Yorkshire.
      This particular team fielded 2 players who could not have played for them before as 1 came into our dressing room to get changed and another ask one of our players where the the toilets were.
      we did not complain despite a narrow defeat as we would not stoop to the levels that some clubs are prepaired to go.to win
      It is these clubs who have a win at all cost attitude. and it is my opinion that the team who complained about woodhouses in the quarter final tie knew more than we did before the tie had started and thought win or lose they would progress . we at woodhouses all expected to be excluded from the competion and were surprised the decision went in our favour.Finally i dont know why you are all complaining anyway as the team that won the semi final were all cleared to play
      Thank you

      • TA says:

        JR Taking your last but one sentence at face value and I quote “we at Woodhouses all expected to be excluded from the competition and were surprised when the decision went in our favour”

        Could I get you to agree that had the Cricketer come to a decision in strict accordance with the rules this discord would not have occurred and that they could be the real culprits not Woodhouses or any other club involved in this matter

  24. Sports Fanatic says:

    Am I reading this clearly? It seems to me that some of those commentators above are suggesting that the arbitration panel of The Cricketer are dishonest or otherwise culpable. What a shame!
    Get back to playing cricket or better still leave those of us who enjoy the game to carry on without this nonsense. As my doctor once said ‘that’s what happens when you drink on an empty head’ !
    Mr. Atherton, your piece in The Times was spot on.

  25. Ian says:

    so let me get this right, woodhouses have fielded not only 2 players that have played 2nd eleven cricket THIS SEASON, they also have a guy who played for the Australia prime ministers eleven against a full strength sri Lanka team 4 yers ago..Oh and the same player had played against a strong indian side, getting out Sehwag…

    Yep that sounds like village cricket to me… This is crazy. How can that be village cricket?

    • TA says:

      Ian you must get your facts right Woohouses only had one player who played 2 or more games for a first class county 2ndX1 in 2011 but you almost got the Australian connection correct you did miss out the match the Aussie in question played in 2008 for Queensland V New Zealand A.

      • JP says:

        I think he’s refering to Josh Tolley who played for Lanchaisre 2nds a few months back. He didn’t say he’d played more than one game this season, that would be against the rules.

  26. Sports Fanatic says:

    This is hilarious!
    My seven year old daughter hasn’t ever acted as such a sore loser.
    Time to be put to bed me thinks.
    Just penning a letter to the ECB. Think it’s time we dispensed with the services of umpires. They are well past their sell-by-date and it seems apparent that cricket no longer needs any authority to make decisions. Are you with me brothers?

  27. R.S says:

    The player who played for the Prime ministers XI; lets get some facts right.
    That was his last official game in Australia…
    He hasn’t been back to Australia for 4 years…
    He has resided in the village of Woodhouses for 4 years…
    He has played for Woodhouses for three years…
    He is now classed as a British citizen…
    What more do you want ?! It’s like an old retired county pro like bumble playing for his club…would you moan and show sour grapes if that was to happen..?

    @sports fanatic: write your letter mate, it’ll get you nowhere, Woodhouses are going to Lords and there’s nothing you or any other Yorkshiremen can do! :P :P :P :P

    • P Johnson says:

      In reply to your 2nd point if Swards has not been back to Australia for 4 years then how did he play for Queensland on 8th Sept 2008?

    • TA says:

      The Aussie in question played his last game in Australia 16th Sept 2008 (Cricket Achive Oracle) According to Oracle there was then a gap in his playing career of about 18 months until he resumed playing for Woodhouses in April, 2010 he may have played for Woodhouses for the last three years but not resided there for 4years.

      • Carol Swards says:

        Excuse me! I’m his wife and happen to disagree. Luke Swards has resided in this country on a spouse visa for 4 years so to pass the time why not google:
        *sad pathetic losers
        *how to get rid of sour grapes
        *how to get my facts right
        instead. You obviously have FAR too much time on your hands!

  28. Sports Fanatic a la Wiltshire (1st class county !!! ???) says:

    Agreed RS. All this whingeing is pitiful.The arbiters made their decision, full stop. BTW I’m not REALLY writing a letter, nor am I from East of the Pennines, I’m just amused at the intensity of the discussion……Titters politely!
    Q. Is cricket winning this debate?
    PS May the best team win on the day.

  29. J R GURR says:

    It’s a disgrace that the cricket village cup final is being contested by Woodhouses. Its beyond belief they did not realise they broke the rules. It’s a nonsense. This club has nothing to do with the spirit of village cricket. Second XI county cricketers playing against village sides? I have followed the competion for years and will never ever bother again. Couldn’t care less whether Woodhouses win or not. The organisers are also a disgrace to the game.

  30. Ian says:

    I think the whole competition is set up to allow for players of a very “average standard” get the chance to play at lords in a dream final. I think woodhouses are probably too strong for this competition, yet its up to the competition rule makers to make the rules properly. I have a feeling the rues might be getting changed next year to stop clubs with the strength like woodhouses from being allowed to play these type of players. Its not really in the spirit of the competition.

    Not sure the competition is really designed for county 2nd players or guys that have played against test standard cricketers.

    Good luck to either side in the final, but I have a feeling it could be a bit one sided.

  31. Robert says:

    Having been involved in this competition both as player and spectator since its inception. It is very noticeable that the number of teams that now enter have dwindled alarmingly over the years. I suppose this is due to a number of reasons; One been that players no longer now seem committed to play Sunday games anymore, however i feel the other main reason is that there are too many teams now that seem to think they are Village teams, and yes they perhaps qualify for this competition, but when “village” teams have county second eleven players in their side along with players that have played first class games, how can these teams really class themselves as “village teams”?
    With regard to the Woodhouses situation, i find it totally unbelievable how the organisers ie “The Cricketer” can allow a team that has so blatantly broken the rules, to be allowed to continue playing in this competition, they have totally “bottled” it!! There is no doubt whatsoever if this had been a competition officiated by the ECB they would have without question been disqualified immediately. It doesn’t matter if this has been an oversight or not, the club has broken the rules, and to have allowed them to continue is staggering.Other teams that have been affected by this remarkable turn round must feel very bitter indeed.
    Where this leaves the “Village Knockout” remains to be seen? Having attended last years final, i remember the words of John Barclay saying that he was “so proud of the way village cricket was still played” perhaps he might have second thoughts about the way this has been conducted by the authorities of the Cricketer Magazine?
    I trust everyone will have an enjoyable day next Sunday and may the best team win!!

    Robert.

    • TA says:

      This year 286 teams took part in the competition and the Cricketer declared that 11 new teams had entered the 2011 competition but what they failed to say was the figure of 286 more or less than 2010. I would be interested to know. Back in1972 I am realiably informed the number of teams entering was over 800 and has now declined by roughly 75%.

      I found your comment very balanced and the reasons for the decline that you put forward are very plausible.

      An article in the Daily Mail sports section last Saturday regarding this years Village Cup Final was both damming and interesting.

  32. Dave says:

    Total Joke… What an absolute shower from the organisers. Got the competition they wanted…..

    This competition is for “village” cricketers, Not first class players or county 2nd eleven players.

    And to cap it off,when a team does “break the rules” they get told not to worry about it and are allowed to put it down to a “Mistake” –

    Joke.

  33. CT says:

    Well we’re on our way to Lords now. Jealousy gets you no where boys. Enjoy watching country file tomorrow while we’re at Lords.

    COME ON WOODHOUSES!!

  34. Richard Todd says:

    Get over it, the final desicion was made by the management team of the tournament. A complaint was made and dealt with, if you dont like it dont enter next year. (If any of you are likely to be that involved) This is what happens when all the villages let their idiots onto a computor.

  35. Gary Kershaw says:

    Could anyone advise me of how you can eneter this competition and what the criteria is for entry.

  36. Ronald Rogers says:

    10 OVER SLOG OUT. WOOP DE DO….
    Anyone for a spot of rain..?
    Well done to the many downbeats at Woodhouses. Spot of tea round Athers for bringing the cup back home perhaps but becareful with those 5 fingers around that china wont you.

  37. A well deserved win for Woodhouses, they outplayed their opponents on the field, ball and bat. Truly outstanding performances from Doyle, Tolley, Prescott and Swards.The club should not be dismayed by the insulting and derogatory comments made by the same old people on this site as it just goes to show that they find it hard to believe that a true village team can play so well. Anyone who knows Woodhouses club and players know that they are genuine club players talented and extremely talented – hard to swallow for supporters of other clubs.

  38. Ronald Rogers says:

    talented and extremely talented.? – your grammar falls short this time young man, please do explain.?

    Not denying anything you said in your post but you seem to be quiet on the issue which is really making people’s blood boil.

    Did you recieve special treatment just because its Atherton’s club.??

    • sports fanatic says:

      Fantastic!!!

      If ewe are going 2 rib sum 1 abowt there grammer yu shud chek ur smellings ferst.

      Grand, that’s maid my day.

  39. R.S says:

    @ Ronald Rogers…

    Mate, get a life and stop moaning about this situation. I played in the game and it was such a fantastic occasion, can’t believe you’re still going on about it, rather pathetic i won’t lie :’)

  40. HD says:

    How was Josh Tolley eligible for the final having played for Lancs 2nd XI in June 2011 against Derbyshire and in August 2011 against England Development Programme Under 18s?

    Isn’t that precisely the same offence as was committed regarding the Northants 2nds player?

    • Josh Tolley says:

      I was still eligable because the game against Derbyshire was a Trophy game, and the game against the England development squad was a friendly. Therefore i haven’t played 2 or more 2nd XI championship games and so am eligble to play in the village cup. Thanks, Bye

      • Ronald Rogers says:

        No you werent. Did you mother teach you the rights an wrongs. Tell the truth and nothing but the truth in any given situation.

        Thanks, Bye

  41. cricket lover says:

    I have read the various comments from those who are not happy at the outcome. However, to vilify a team who have worked so hard to get to the final, you should be ashamed of yourselves! How would you like it if it was your team? How would your players feel if they were bullied, belittled and made to feel their achievement was nothing more than cheating? The Cricketer have checked their regulations and made their decision, so I have to say – grow up, get a life and move on! Also, in reply to Ronald Rodgers – you should be ashamed of yourself. To infer that Woodhouses ‘is Atherton’s club’ and as such the decision was made in our favour, is laughable. If that was the case, then Mike would have influenced decisions made in previous years when we didn’t get as far in the competition. This club is based on friendship, families and support for our teams and no-one, no matter who they are, influcences the way the club is managed and how they play the game. Its a very sad reflection on your clubs that you are so embittered by this that you cannot be magnanimous and accept defeat graciously. I hope you do have the opportunity to play at Lords and you don’t have the villification that Woodhouses have received from you! Shame on you, shame on you, shame on you!!!

    • TA says:

      What could you expect but vilification you broke the rules which was compounded by the organisers in not ensuring that Woodhouses were disqualified. The game in question that disqualified Sweeney started 6 days before the quarter final against Stainsby Hall but the Cricketer chose to explain that it finished only two days before the quarter final in other words sought to justify an “honest mistake”.

      I am afraid mud sticks and you will be forever remembered as the team that broke the rules but still took part in the final.

      • Ronald Rogers says:

        Best post over last few weeks without a shadow of a doubt.

        Maybe Atherton himself can play next year,?
        Is he eligable.?
        What are the rules.?