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Curtain up on Cockspur Cup 2007

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With a large increase in entries, a rise of over 20 per cent to 395 in two years, the first round of the Cockspur Cup is scheduled to be played on Sunday April 29 with 137 matches at venues ranging from West of Scotland in the North to Ventnor in the South.

Three other matches have already been played by eager teams in the North West who couldn’t wait to start their season.

On April 15, Clifton (Lancashire) hosted Newton-le-Willows in a very early curtain-raiser. Clifton batted first but there were no signs of rust as opener Q Malik made 102 and steered his side to a daunting 244-5. Newton-le-Willows were never in the hunt and with D Dempster taking 4-27, were dismissed for 118 giving Clifton victory by 126 runs.

Two more matches were played on Sunday April 22 including a high scoring match at Golbourne where Birkenhead Park scored 237-7 (T Hunter 74) and Golbourne opener D Tyrer played sheet anchor in reply, scoring an unbeaten 86. However the run chase fell 13 runs short with the last pair at the wicket.

Wavertree and Astley & Tyldesley were not quite so lucky with the weather. Astley & Tyldesley batted first and were bowled out for 98 with Ian Jenions (3-15) and Christopher Guy (3-23) doing the damage. Wavertree’s reply was rain affected and they reached their revised target of 77 in 14.2 overs to win by eight wickets.

With such a large number of ties to be played this weekend and the big guns having byes to the second round, it is difficult to predict any headlines. In Group 3, Clifton Alliance (York) host Cleethorpes from the Yorkshire Premier League which is a potential banana skin for the visitors. Group 4 sees Norcross looking to repeat their heroics of last season; once again they start at home this time against Clitheroe.

Bridgewater, who played Bath in the last 16 in 2005, start this campaign at home to Clevedon. Group 11 sees an intriguing tie at Ventnor – for two years running, they have been denied promotion to the Southern League Premier Division due to their ground not meeting the required grading. They start their Cockspur Cup campaign with a home tie against Alton, a Premier Division side who include Paddy Heffernan, the Southern League Chairman, amongst their members.

In Group 14, Harold Wood have had to switch their tie to their opponent's ground at Southgate as their pavilion was burned down by vandals in October last year. Playing on a County out-ground may hopefully provide some consolation for the team at this difficult time.

The Final is scheduled to be played at Lord’s on Monday September 10. This year, to celebrate the 30th Rumsey Festival, also sponsored by Cockspur, both Finalists will enjoy a trip to Barbados as a reward for their achievements.

Along with the prize money of £6,000 for the winners and £3,000 for the runners-up, this is certainly a great incentive for clubs to succeed in 2007.