Former champs poised to quit league

Grindley - new skipper
Grindley - new skipper
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St Annes Cricket Club are ready to quit the Northern Premier League after over 60 years in the competition – and they could soon be joined by other teams.

The six-times champions and the club that can lay claim to introducing Andrew Flintoff to the game are applying to join a planned two-tier Lancashire League.

The proposed split has come about because of the fact that the Northern League needs to bring in a system of promotion and relegation with another feeder competition by 2017 in order to maintain its premier status.

Explaining the reasons behind the move to try and link up with the Lancashire League, chairman John Cotton said: “We think it is the best thing for St Annes Cricket Club.

“The Northern League has tried to speak to other leagues so that they can get a feeder system with promotion and relegation to retain premier status, but they haven’t had any success as yet.

“We feel there will other clubs in the Northern League who will also be expressing an interest in joining the Lancashire League – clubs have to put their application to join by the end of September.

“I have no idea whether or not we will be accepted and there may be more applications than places available.

“The problem is that clubs below mid-table in the Northern League have nothing to play for the rest of the season.”

St Annes CC were the founder members of the Northern League in 1952 and became an instant success.

They were unbeaten in league games which resulted in them becoming champions that year. St Annes suffered their first defeat on August 1, 1953 after being unbeaten in 35 games – before that St Annes had competed in the Ribblesdale League.

It is a case of all change behind the scenes at St Annes, who are third-bottom in the current league table. Long-time first team captain and chairman of cricket Andy Kellett is standing down.

Dave Hopkinson has been appointed cricket chairman – Matthew Grindley will take over as first team skipper for 2016. Brian Standing has stepped down as president after 50 years’ service – professional Xanders Pitches will not be retained for the 2016 season.