There’s a big couple of weeks incoming for Cuckney Cricket Club, one which includes a trip to the home of cricket, Lords, and that could see them walk away not only as National champions, but also with a bulging trophy cabinet.
Two more league wins (and a slip from Kimberley Institute CC) will see them lift the Owzat-Cricket Nottinghamshire Premier League, Premier Division title, victory on Sunday (3 September) against Papplewick & Linby CC will see them crowned Derbyshire Premier Cup champions, there’ll be the end of season Dan Sutton Trophy to contest, and then there’s Lords.
On Sunday, 9 September, the Bears will walk out at the home of cricket vying to become only the second Nottinghamshire club to lift the ECB National Club Championship (West Indian Cavaliers won the title back in 2013) when they face defending champions, Bexley.
The Nottingham Sport caught up Bears captain, Thomas Ullyott, and vice-captain, Richard Bostock, for an insight to how the season’s gone, and to look ahead at what’ll be a pivotal week in the clubs’ history.
With both Kimberley, and Cuckney, locked on 114 points apiece at the top of the table (Cavaliers & Carrington CC third on 96), the next two, the final two, league games, are critical, starting with Cuckney’s trip to West Bridgfordians, and Kimberley hosting Cavaliers.
For Ullyott and Bostock, it’s about keeping the players grounded, and focussed, with there being so much still to play for.
“A lot of the lads here have known each other for years, most 7-10,” began Bears captain, Ullyott.
“Myself and (Richard) Bostock, we go back 20 years or so, so it’s something that’s been built up over time, and gone up through the divisions with.
“We do so much together that it’s like a family, very much a club feel, and the additions of Adam Tillcock, Tom Rowe and Joe Worrall, they’ve added to that.
“(This season) It’s been a bit-stop start so, to be in the position we’re in, it’s been a successful one so far, but the pressure keep mounting as well and one mistake can see us leave with nothing.
“We’ve achieved nothing yet, and that’s what we’ve got to bear in mind.
“A lot of players’ minds are on Lords as there’s not many at our level get the chance to play there, but we need to focus on West Bridgfordians (league) and Papplewick (Derbs Cup) first.
“To be in this position though, it’s what you wish for, dream about, at the start of the season, and it’s really exciting for us all at the club, from the juniors right the way up – it means so much to everyone.”
In getting to this stage, where a trip to Lords, and opposing defending champions Bexley, is in Cuckney’s future, the Bears have overcome the challenges of Barnt Green (won by six wickets, Adam Tillcock 81 n/o, Ewan Laughton 61 n/o), Nantwich (won by 124 runs, Nick Langford 57, William Butler 55), and then that, semi-final success, away to Richmondshire.
Rich what, Richmond (sorry, couldn’t resist a tilt to one of my favourite films, Coach Carter, it’s a classic) – anyway, away to Richmondshire, the Bears won by a handsome nine wickets, dismissing the fancies hosts for 120 before posting 124/1 in reply, leading batsman Nicholas Keast 50 n/o and William Butler 446 n/o.
“Myself, the coaches, the senior players, we need to keep the rest of the squad grounded and we need to focus on what’s at hand first,” added Ullyott.
“We need to put our focus and energy there as it’s a situation we need to try and manage – every game we’ve played, since June really, has been like a cup final for us, and it’s just run-rate that splits the top two in the league.
“Cuckney though, it’s a very small village in rural Nottinghamshire, but our fan-base continues to expand,” Ullyott smiled, paying tribute to their supporters, “there’s many who are there week in week out whether it be supporting the firsts, the seconds, or our juniors sides.
“They’ve been a massive part of the success here and, at Richmondshire (ECB semi-final) we were surprised at how many came; there’ll be similar at Lords as well I’d say, they’re all vital.
“Everyone is really excited and chuffed for us, and not just about the prospect of Lords, although that is a game in which we really want to win.
“Every single player at this club has won us a game this season; we also couldn’t have done it without the support of our seconds where my brother is the captain.
“They’ve had a hard year, in a tough league, but I’ve also been picking some for the firsts which again, has been vital to our success.”
Now, with those four matches still guaranteed to play – two league, two cup finals, and the prospect of whatever happens in the Dan Sutton Trophy also on the horizon, Ullyott’s vice-captain, Richard Bostock, added further insight into the season, and the upcoming trip to Lords.
“It’s been quite the one-off season really,” explained Bostock.
“We always set out, aim, to go as deep as we can in the ECB Championship, whilst also aiming for the top two in the league as well, especially after how last season finished.
“This (season) though, it’s been a good one, although I did miss a month through injury, and we’ve picked up a few good signings as well.
“The ECB Championship has always been an inspiration since we first entered it; we love the feeling of cup competitions and away days, playing in those big games.
“We’ve a few players here that are in the twilight of their careers, so it does a lot for them, as well as the club overall.”
“Bexley, they’ve got pretty much the same side this year, similar to us really, but it’s going to be a tough test so we’ll go there and enjoy it.
“As for the Richmond game, we’d done our research and were flawless in doing what we had done all season.”
“We’ve got this far and, although we can have a really great season, we can still win nothing as well.”
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @Cardigan1979 celebrations after their National Cup semi-final win.