Sports Awards: North Staffs and South Cheshire League cricketers continue to dominate President's Trophy
THE North Staffs and South Cheshire League side continued their domination of the President's Trophy in 2012 with a fourth successive victory.
The competition, which is run by the League Cricket Conference, is open to leagues across the country – but the trophy appears to have found a permanent home in Staffordshire.
And it continues a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the team, who had not won the trophy for 30 years before starting their current sequence of success in 2009 with victory over North Yorkshire and South Durham.
They have now been nominated in the Senior Team of the Year category of The Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by league manager Keith Tunnicliffe..
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"Winning the competition four years on the trot is a fantastic achievement," said Tunnicliffe.
"It highlights how strong league cricket is in our area, especially when you consider the teams we've beaten along the way.
"The players deserve every plaudit because they've mucked in and dedicated their time to making the team a success.
"The majority of the players have been in the squad for all four years and there is a good blend of youth and experience.
"It shows that the league's development side is pushing players through to the senior set-up.
"Hopefully, we can now make it five wins in a row this season."
The NSSCL's latest triumph was arguably their toughest to date after they were pushed all the way by their Nottinghamshire Premier League counterparts at Papplewick and Linby.
But Dave Fairbanks' side, who had cruised past Derbyshire, Cheshire and Shropshire to reach the final, won by 15 runs.
Leek's Chris Beech top-scored with 49, while Wood Lane's Danny Brierley chipped in with 47, as NSSCL made 175 all out.
The home side, featuring former Leicestershire batsman Tom New, lost wickets at regular intervals and were eventually dismissed for 160.
Checkley's Richard Cooper was dragged out of retirement for his swan-song ... and finished with four wickets.
Moddershall's Matt Goodwin and Sandyford seamer Andy Barnett provided valuable support with a couple of wickets apiece.
Audley skipper Andy Johnson also joined in the fun, with a run-out completing the tally.
"It was a case of whether we could field a side at one point because a lot of the lads were going away after the end of the league season," said captain Fairbanks.
"But we have more than capable replacements and everyone chipped in at some point.
"Nottinghamshire were the strongest side we've faced for a while, so it was a pleasing win."
The title win, though, proved to be a team effort with several excellent individual performances enabling the NSSCL to retain the silverware.
Leek's Alex Mellor made 101 in the victory over Derbyshire and Cheshire, while Fairbanks, who plays his club cricket for Longton, made 69.
Spinner Michael Brown (Burslem) and seamer Matt Redican (Meakins) took three wickets apiece in the same fixture, while the latter went one better and claimed four victims to help see off Shropshire.