CRICKET lovers in Blackpool got their hands on the County Championship trophy following Lancashire’s 77-year wait to be crowned outright kings.
It was brought to town by Mark Chilton, who announced his retirement immediately after Lancashire clinched the prize on a dramatic final day of the season by beating Somerset at Taunton.
Former skipper Chilton rounded off his benefit year as guest speaker at the Fylde Coast Cricket Society’s Christmas dinner and put the glittering trophy on show at the Queen’s Hotel, South Promenade.
And Chilton revealed how the umpires prevented him taking charge of the side in the nailbiting finale, after captain Glen Chapple was forced off the field by injury.
Chilton, who skippered the side in Chapple’s absence early in the season, came on as 12th man to direct operations – only to be bluntly told by Peter Willey that it was against the rules.
“I tried to convince Peter that I was only moving the fielders but he wasn’t wearing it!” said Chilton.
It meant Blackpool’s Steven Croft, who duly struck the winning runs in the eight-wicket triumph, took temporary control after leading Lancashire in short-format games.
Chilton showed his musical talent by rounding off the society’s festive evening with two vocal numbers.
He had provided similar entertainment at Lancashire’s player of the year awards ceremony at Old Trafford’s The Point.
TROPHY TREAT: Mark Chilton with Fylde Coast Cricket Society chairman Jim Collins (left) and president Bill Thompson