Captain Paul Danson hailed a “massive team effort” by his Blackpool Cricket Club champions after a Northern Premier League triumph which reflected so positively on the club’s junior set-up.
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“It is fantastic because most to the lads have come through our juniors,” the skipper said after the Stanley Park club sealed the title with Saturday’s 10-wicket home win over Penrith. That meant they ended a rain-affected final day as they had begun it, seven points clear of second-placed Netherfield.
Danson added: “If you take myself and Andy Furniss out of the equation, the average age of the side is 20 or 21, so this team could be successful for several seasons.”
The threat to their title celebrations came not only from Penrith but from the weather as rain delayed the start.
Danson explained: “Penrith had a big result the previous week against Garstang to stave off relegation and had nothing to play for but pride, but they wanted our scalp.
“We had an eye on Garstang (where Netherfield were Saturday’s visitors) because we knew Netherfield could overhaul us if they won and we couldn’t play.
“Luckily the weather was fine from around 2.30, so we took an early tea and started at 3.45, playing 26 overs a side.”
Those overs were more than ample as Penrith survived just 18.1 in reaching 109 and Blackpool passed that target in 16 without loss.
Given the club’s focus on youth, it was fitting that Matt Siddall should take five Penrith wickets despite sending down only 25 deliveries.
Danson said: “Matt has been a revelation and has 50 scalps. He and Josh Boyne complement each other really well as a left-arm, right-arm combination.
“But it’s a massive team effort. We don’t rely on a pro, unlike some clubs who are dependent on two or thee players. Someone will always put his hand up and over the season everyone has mucked in and contributed.”
That’s why Danson rates this glorious season even more highly than the club’s last title win in 2014.
He recalled: “Four years ago was special because it was our first title since 1990 but we had Richard Gleeson and the pro Christi Viljoen, who took 100 wickets. A lot revolved around those two but this time everyone has played a part, so this is a better achievement.”
Blackpool-born Gleeson is making his Lancashire debut in this week’s Roses clash at Headingley following a sudden move from Northamptonshire.
He was back with hometown club Blackpool 10 days ago, taking seven wickets at Morecambe to leave them on the brink of the title, and his longtime captain Danson said: “I’m elated for Richard. To have a homegrown player in the Lancashire team is a dream. It’s brilliant for him and for our club.”
He may be his team’s elder statesman but Danson has no intention of hanging up his pads or putting his feet up.
He said: “Until someone tells me otherwise, I’ll keep going. I love it and the planning for next season has started already.”
Chief among those plans will be to engage a professional for 2019 after Danson confirmed South African Jovaun van Wyngaardt will not return.
“Jovaun was a good pro around the club and he did contribute without dominating on the field, but we will go down a different route,” said Danson. “There is also the danger of other clubs trying to take our players because when you are successful clubs do target you. But why would players not want to stay here?”