The 135th Parish Cup final between Thornton and Illingworth St. Mary’s, sponsored by Briggs Priestley, promised to be a showpiece for the Halifax Cricket League.
My now neurotic checking of weather apps showed a heavy chance of rain in the afternoon, but with breaks that meant we’d get some cricket in.
At the gate, we almost paid £88 for our entrance fee and match programmes via the card reader (still terrific value obviously), but that was narrowly averted and we parked up with the final only a few overs old.
It was all very well organized from those helping with parking to first aid and the barbecue sizzling away; a credit to everyone volunteering on the day.
It can be challenging on a number of fronts for a host club and the league when the original cup final date (due the week before) has to be rearranged.
There’s the tremendous amount of work from groundsman Mark Baldwin on the Copley pitch to get it ready not once but twice, allied with catering and all the other mechanics of a day like this.
There wasn’t the biggest crowd in but it seemed to fill up over the first hour. The poor forecast naturally puts some off, but a good number were scattered around the circumference of Copley’s magnificent ground.
Thornton batted first and would go on to score 230 for nine off 45 overs. Illingworth St. Mary’s kept it tight and chipped away with wickets, as the early exchanges were even.
A huge moment came when Josh Hutchinson (above) was dismissed after a superb run out by Jack Hemblys.
Hutchinson had only just smashed a six onto the roof of Copley’s clubhouse and is one of the most destructive batters in Yorkshire league cricket.
His dismissal sent Illingworth St. Mary’s jubilant and provoked a huge roar around the ground from their supporters.
Thornton, who are Premier Division league leaders for a reason, kept their composure to usher in a competitive total through Grant Soames; his 105 off 110 balls proved the anchor.
Jack Hargreaves (4-40), Matthew Smith (3-40) and Jack Hemblys (1-42) shared the wickets. The forecast rain came in as light drizzle that gradually worsened, prompting the umpires to eventually call on the covers.
It was our cue to grab a couple of cheeseburgers and buy some of that moist chocolate cake that was calling out.
It was a pleasure to chat to those I’ve met over the years, from the host club to league officials and players attending. A kind invite to take tea upstairs in Copley’s clubhouse had to be reluctantly refused, having only just wolfed anything for sale on the ground.
We had to leave early but I followed its progress of resumption after the tea break at home on FrogBox. Live streaming continues to be present at more cricket clubs, I was told that one of the Thornton lads was on a beach in Europe in his Thornton strip watching his team-mates in the final back home!
🎥 Boundaries and wickets from the @HalifaxCL Parish Cup Final against @ThorntonCC held at @CopleyCC— Illingworth St Mary’s CC (@IllingworthCC) August 14, 2023
📺 Extended highlights can be found on YouTube: https://t.co/2taHIWiogd
🐸 Thanks to Thornton CC for arranging the FrogBox live-stream for the final pic.twitter.com/7bLmjiZgFd
Thankfully, to the relief of many no doubt, the rain didn’t ruin the cricket with the run chase orchestrated by Illingworth St. Mary’s stalwart Gary Fellows, who hit 127 off 126 balls.
While Fellows was there, Thornton couldn’t relax but his dismissal off Ross Parr with Ross Anderson’s catch a match-winning moment, Illingworth St Mary’s just had too much to do in the closing moments.
Grant Soames capped a memorable day with 2-24, to go with his century. Bradley Weatherhead (4-31), Ross Parr (2-49) and Dominic Anderson (1-21) were the other wicket-takers.
In the end, Illingworth were dismissed for 214 off 44.3 overs, as Thornton claimed the Parish Cup by a margin of 16 runs, adding further spice to the Premier Division First XI run-in.
Thornton lead on 167 points and Illingworth St. Mary’s, their closest rivals, are hovering on 151 points. With five fixtures left, it could well be as close as the Parish Cup Final, come September. Watch this space.