SECRETARY Trevor Harrison has delivered a parting shot at the Lancashire Cricket Board following the demise of the JW Pennine Cricket League after only two seasons, a move that affects local clubs Crompton, Shaw and Heyside.
Mr Harrison accuses the LCB of behaving “disgracefully” claiming they want all clubs under the same umbrella in the Greater Manchester Cricket League.
He said: “The LCB is looking after itself and it is sad that four leagues have been lost in the last five years – the CLL, Saddleworth League, Bolton Association and Manchester Association.
“I am not very happy with the LCB and their lack of support. I think they have behaved disgracefully, and I will say that to the end of my days.
“When the Lancashire League proposed an extension to two divisions, the LCB wouldn’t listen when we warned it would have a domino effect.
“We received no support from them and they contributed to the end of our league.
“It is sad because even the clubs leaving to join the Lancashire League had no complaints the cricket and there was nothing wrong with it.”
The Greater Manchester League will, however, set aside dates so the Wood and Tanner cups can maintain local rivalries.
It is thought the Wood Cup will be contested by 16 former CLL clubs and Tanner Cup by 16 ex-Saddleworth League sides.
And it will be replicated in second-team cricket with the Burton and Moore cups being retained.
There is sadness about the demise of the Pennine League after only two seasons, but clubs are excited about the new adventures they are about to embark on.
While most of the Pennine League clubs are moving to Greater Manchester League, CROMPTON are switching to the Lancashire League.
Crompton were not among the initial group of five clubs to be tempted to join the enlarged Lancashire League, a move that hastened the demise of the Pennine League.
Senior Crompton player John Punchard explained: “As soon as those clubs decided to go elsewhere, the writing was on the wall for the Pennine League.
“When the Lancashire League were one club short and in need of a seventh club, we decided to apply.
“It will be a new adventure for Crompton and myself as I played most of my cricket in the CLL.
“There will be a lot more miles because of the travelling, but I think the standard of the cricket will be higher.”
The Lancashire League is proposing to have two divisions of 12 clubs in each from 2019.
Next summer, though, all teams will be in one division, playing each other once to determine the standings for the following season.
Punchard, who has played most of his cricket for Royton, Werneth, Middleton and Crompton, describes himself as a “CLL man” having made his first-team debut for Royton in 1973.
He said: “When that fell apart, the Pennine League was the best option, though it was not to everybody’s taste.
“I had no complaints about the Pennine League and the cricket in the top half of the Premiership was very competitive.
“It is a shame in the space of two years that the CLL and its replacement have both disappeared.”
HEYSIDE will play in division 1A of the Greater Manchester Cricket League.
First-team captain Ryan Barnes says the club will take the switch in its stride.
He explained: “We will have played in five different divisions and four different leagues in the space of five years. Looking back, we probably had too much going on.
“We switched from the Saddleworth League to the CLL and then played in both divisions of the Pennine League and this will be our first in the GMCL.
“It is a new challenge and one we are looking forward to.
“It is a shame the Pennine League has folded, but I have been impressed with the GMCL that has a strong structure.
“The GMCL is run by very forward thinking people and I have been impressed by them and how they have approached things in a more modern fashion.”
Barnes says they have no complaints about being in the second tier where they will have a number of local derbies against Greenfield, Stayley, Royton and Flowery Field.
But long term, he says it is the club’s ambition to win promotion to the premier division as they want to play at the highest level.
SHAW, meanwhile, have been placed in division 2A – the third tier – of the GMCL. Their most local games will be against Micklehurst, Werneth and Droylsden.
Club official Paul Harrison is sad to see the demise of the Pennine League.
He said: “When the CLL and Saddleworth League merged to form the Pennine League it was ideal playing the likes of Heyside, Moorside, Crompton, Royton, Oldham and Milnrow.
“There were a lot of games on our doorstep and it was great until the so-called bigger teams looked to join the Lancashire League.”
Harrison says they accept being placed in the third tier saying league officials had a dilemma finding divisions for new clubs.
He continued: “Not many teams know at this moment their personnel or how strong they will be for next season.
“It will take clubs a couple of seasons in the new league to find their level.
“But are looking forward to visiting new grounds and playing different teams.”