Weston’s Scott on playing at Lords in the 1986 William Younger Cup final
PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 June 2020
“It caught the imagination, no doubt about it, for Weston to be playing at Lord’s was a fantastic occasion,” recalled current club president John Scott.
Back in 1986, two years after reaching the semi-finals, Weston, under the captaincy of Scott, headed to the Home of Cricket, named after founder Thomas Lord, to take on West Midlands side Stourbridge in the final of the William Younger Cup, now known as the ECB National Club Cricket Championship.
Scott’s association with the club began 20 years earlier during his time with Bristol University, which saw him travel to Devonshire Road to take part in Sunday 1st XI matches.
It was also at university where he met Chris Norton and the pair of them would play a key role in Weston’s route to the final.
“Over 500 clubs started in this competition, we had to win eight games to even play at Lord’s and we were playing clubs from all over the country,” said Scott.
“We had some terrific games and we had some luck. If you’re going to win a league, most times a team that wins the league, say they have 20 matches, probably gets beaten two or three times.
“You can’t get beaten in a cup competition because if you get beaten you’re out.
“We did have the rub of the green on more than one occasion, particularly with the toss. I won the toss on a couple of crucial occasions which meant we won the game rather than losing it.”
Stroud were the first victims after they could only reach 84-6 and as Weston eased to victory by three wickets.
Swindon British Rail, Lansdown, Colwall and Falmouth all came and went before Richmond were also defeated and Weston came up against Northampton Saints for a place in the final.
“It was a big thing,” added Scott.
“I remember when we played in the semi-final at home against Northampton, it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at Weston.
“It caught the imagination, no doubt about it and for Weston to be playing at Lord’s it was a fantastic occasion.”
After sweeping away the Saints by seven wickets with four overs left, Scott recalled an usual stat in their cup run, adding: “One of the features of that season was we only used 13 players in the nine games and that is absolutely remarkable.
“These days Weston get through a season without using a couple dozen of players. But for the 13 people to represent the club in that competition is absolutely amazing.
“And of those 13, 11 had come through the Weston youth policy and the other two – Chris Norton and I – had been members of the club for 20 years.
“Just about a club team as you could possibly get. Nobody could say we recruited outsiders, we didn’t, it was an absolute club occasion.”
The stage was set, Weston headed to the nation’s capital to take on Stourbridge in the final at the home of Marylebone Cricket Club, despite Scott thinking the match would be called off because of the weather.
“We went up the night before and had dinner with the opposition in the hotel just north of London,” he added.
“The rationale was once we had played the game they just wanted to get back straight to their clubs so they changed the format by having the dinner before the game rather than afterwards.
“I remember we had dinner at this hotel and it was absolutely pouring with rain outside, I thought we would never play the game, but because Lord’s is Lord’s the conditions were absolutely perfect the next day.
“The feeling as you walk into the Lord’s ground and up to the changing room was just incredible, where we were at the Home of Cricket walking, treading the hallowed turf. It was incredible, it was something I never dreamt I’d do because two years before we lost the semi-final to Bishop’s Stortford and I was approaching my 40th birthday. I thought that was it, that was my last chance to play at Lord’s gone.
“But two years later not only was I playing at Lord’s but I was leading the side out onto the field which was just an incredible feeling it defies belief.”
Scott has now been with Weston for 54 years, during which time he has held the role of captain, chairman and president, but the side from 1986 is the “best team” he has ever played with.
“They were unbelievable, it was the best team I have ever played in and at the time I was lucky enough to be captain,” he said.
“A lot of the people in the side I’d coached when they were youngsters, teenagers so there was the satisfaction I helped these lads on the way.
“It wasn’t difficult because they were good players, they had a lot of ability. We played Stourbridge in the final, a Worcester club, and three of their players were contracted to Worcestershire County Cricket Club.
“If they played a first-class game they would have been out of the competition but Worcester didn’t pick them or select them for the county side until after that final.
“All three played in the county match after that match at Lord’s and I thought that absolutely typified the difference between the two sides. We are an absolute genuine club side, but they had three lads who were all professional cricketers.”
Backed by a large travelling crowd from Weston, Scott and his side batted first and managed to total a respectable 175 as Norton top scored with 39.
A close finish ensued but it was Stourbridge who brought the fairytale to a close when they picked up the win by four wickets with eight balls to spare.
As Weston gets ready to celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2020, that day in 1986 is one that will unlikely be repeated ever again.
“I said after we played at Lord’s ‘it would never happen again’ and it hasn’t happened again,” added Scott.
“We had a very strong side, there’s no doubt about it, an extremely strong side and I was lucky to captain such a strong side.
“The big thing was we were playing cricket at Lord’s. It just doesn’t get any bigger than that.
“For a club cricketer, anybody, everybody, who has ever picked up a bat or ball wants to play at Lord’s.
“It’s extra, extra, extra special, it really is the pinnacle of the game to be able play and say you played at Lord’s. That day was the biggest day in the history of Weston Cricket Club by a long way.”
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