SUPER Lowerhouse are the Foster’s Lancashire League champions for 2014 after they squeezed themselves over the line to claim a fourth title in 10 glorious year in the dark at Todmorden last night.
Charlie Cottam’s men, who had a slow start to the season, made it a magnificent 18 wins on the trot to take the championship – but how they had to battle to their moment of glory at Centre Vale.
It looked as though their dreams of winning the title with two games to spare were going to end in pain of narrow defeat as Todmorden did their bit to try and spoil the party.
But in the end last pair Joe Martin and Fergus Bailey got them over the line in the final over to send a massive travelling support wild.
There is no doubt that the House have been the best side throughout a thrilling season and they proved they have more than talent to their game with the spirited finish.
Kristian Garland hit 70 as Todmorden batted first and posted 177-8 from their 50 overs.
And when Jonathan Finch had his stumped wrecked by Todmorden substitute professional Kelly Smuts with the score on 16 the nerves were started to be stretched.
Finch, so often the star for Lowerhouse, had made 14 and had smashed the previous ball for six – but Smuts, who is professional with Northern League outfit Morecambe, certainly enjoyed his moment of revenge.
Smuts also claimed the second wicket as he caught Ben Heap brilliantly off his own bowling with the score on 51 and the very next bowl he had Lowerhouse sub-pro Christi Viljoen caught behind.
And it was soon 65-5 as Smuts struck twice more to remove Jonny Whitehead and Paddy Martin.
It looked as though Joey Hawke was going to take the House home as he batted well but when he was caught in the slips off the excellent Smuts it was 138-6 and that target seemed a long way away.
It seemed a lost cause when Cottam and Chris Bleazard went in quick time and at 148-8 it seemed Lowerhouse would have to beat last year’s champions Accrington on their own ground next Sunday.
But Matt Walker went on the attack and a six-laden innings took them to the brink before he fell for 65 with five runs needed.
With Smuts bowled out after claiming seven wickets, Lowerhouse found themselves bogged down with a series of maidens and they went into the final over needing two to win.
Joe Martin claimed a single to tie the scores – a result that meant they were champions with the seven points that brings – and then Bailey smashed the next ball to the ropes to ensure the winning run stayed intact.
Ramsbottom and Enfield were the sides who could have taken the title race to the wire had Lowerhouse stumbled and they both did their bit.
Ramsbottom were way too good for Colne at Acre Bottom.
Rammy posted 174-7 with sub-pro Benwell Hill made 64 before Jon Fielding claimed 5-26 and Michael Haslam’s eight overs saw figures of 2-5 with Colne 69 all out.
Enfield also won as they beat Rawtenstall. They bowled Rocky out for 124 and survived a few scares with Keith Roscoe claiming five more wickets before winning with three wickets in hand.
Legendary former Burnley professional Charlie Griffiths was at Turf Moor to see his old club brush Rishton aside, while Church crushed East Lancashire having bowled the Blackburn side out for 88.
That in itself was an achievement after East Lancashire had slumped to 20-6 from 15 overs.
Accrington beat Bacup and Nelson edged past Haslingden by two runs in a thriller at Seedhill.
Russell Bradley and Tyler McGladdery both made half-centuries as Nelson posted 204-9 and despite five wickets from Richard Meade Haslingden needed four off the final ball.
They got two as Nelson claimed the points.