Cricket cup final back at Walsden

Shubham Harkal, pictured at Scott Street during his first stint, is interested in returning to Walsden next summer
Shubham Harkal, pictured at Scott Street during his first stint, is interested in returning to Walsden next summer

Walsden have agreed to host the Central Lancashire League’s JW Lees Wood Cup final next year on Sunday, August 2.

The Scott Street club’s turn to stage the showpiece game, as one of a handful of clubs to sell the competition sponsor’s products, has come round quicker than anticipated.

However, Walsden agreed at a committee meeting on Monday that hosting the final was likely to provide a good boost to the club’s coffers and they should go ahead.

Walsden, who have been drawn away to Unsworth in the first round, will be among the favourites to lift the trophy, having been champions twice in recent years.

Playing at home in the final can be an advantage - as Walsden found to their cost at Heywood a couple of years ago - but long-serving official Allan Stuttard said such a scenario, while welcome, would also cause a headache.

“You do lose 11 workers on the day,” he said.

Walsden have staged the final twice before, in spite of some people’s reservations about the size of their ground, in 2003 and 2010.

“On the first time we made an awful lot of money but it does depend on who is playing and the weather,” Stuttard said.

He added that the gate money was split but profits from the bar and catering went to the host club.

“I knew it was coming round to our turn again. I thought it might be another year but Ashton have dropped out after problems with their pavilion roof.”

Walsden, who last won the Wood Cup when Aussie Shaun Marsh was in their ranks in 2004, will face Unsworth on Sunday, May 31.

With 18 teams in the competition for the first time, there will be a preliminary round involving four clubs and Walsden are relieved to have avoided that.

Walsden haven’t played Unsworth for a couple of years.

The Bury outfit have been in the Championship for two seasons but they will cross swords with Walsden in the league again next year after gaining promotion as runners-up to Monton and Weaste.

Meanwhile, Walsden were among the clubs represented at Unsworth on Saturday to receive an update from league chiefs on becoming part of a bigger set-up.

The CLL is in talks with several other leagues over a Greater Manchester pyramid system and officials are also due to have a meeting with their Lancashire League counterparts in mid-January over a possible merger between the two leagues.

Stuttard said linking up with the Lancashire League was the favoured course of action for most CLL clubs, including Walsden.

“If it came down to a vote, that is what we would vote for,” he said.

On the playing front, Shubham Harkal, Walsden’s overseas amateur when they were champions in 2013, has expressed an interest in rejoining the club.

The Indian batsman and leg spinner, now in his late teens, is keen to return to this country to study at university in Manchester or Leeds.

Walsden’s overseas amateur last year was Canadian/Indian Riaz Pathan, who scored 399 runs at 23.47 and seven wickets at 28.50.

Wood Cup draw - preliminary round: Monton and Weaste v Werneth, Royton v Milnrow.

First round: Clifton v Elton All Saints, Crompton v Royton or Milnrow, Unsworth v Walsden, Norden v Oldham, Rochdale v Middleton, Radcliffe v Heywood, Heyside v Monton and Weaste or Werneth, Littleborough v Ashton.