CRICKET: Willoughby

Action from Sunday's game
Action from Sunday's game

Fine crowd jump to celebrate Eric Palmer’s half century at Willoughby CC

WCC Presidents XI 166-5

National Hunt Jockeys XI 144-6

WCC Presidents XI won by 22 runs

Family, friends and cricketers from near and far turned out in great force at Willoughby Cricket Club on Sunday to honour the magnificent service that Eric Palmer has given to the club.

Eric, who is Willoughby CC’s President, is celebrating 50 years as the Club Honorary Treasurer this season - an achievement which is nothing short of incredible in this day and age, and Sunday’s match was arranged and played in recognition of his loyalty and commitment.

Eric selected a WCC Presidents XI formed from current Willoughby CC players and guest players to act as the home side for Sunday’s fixture. In keeping with his other passion and interest of horseracing, their opponents were a National Hunt Jockeys XI, a team largely made up of current and former National Hunt racing jockeys and all captained by the renowned former jockey-turned-trainer Jody Mogford, himself a close friend of Eric’s.

With near-perfect conditions greeting players and spectators alike and The Green looking in truly immaculate condition, the 30 over match saw the hosts bat first and set a target of 166 for the loss of five wickets. Lee Golding and Marcus Fleming top scored for Willoughby, with NH Jockey’s skipper Mogford impressing with the ball and wicketkeeper Sam Poste showing he is equally at home behind the stumps as he is on the saddle.

After a typically fine tea and with the crowd filling the boundary edge and enjoying the barbecue and beer in full flow, the NH Jockeys reply suffered an early loss but Poste held firm with the bat and looked to build a platform, particularly taking a shine to the part time bowling of WCC’s Matt Goss. The Jockey’s reply was in need of further acceleration which was given when Ash Rayner – guesting for the NHJ, came to the crease and immediately found the boundary off four successive balls. He was joined by Tom Hill, who equally found the rope early on and continued to nudge the score along. However his departure effectively ended the chase and although Rayner was joined by Mogford who both pushed the Jockeys total along in the final overs, they closed on a respectable 144-6 and 22 runs short in what was a entertaining game played and enjoyed in the spirit it was intended.

Alongside the on-field action and social element of the day which went on well into the evening, a Grand Charity Raffle Draw and impromptu Auction for a signed cricket bat was concluded with all proceeds donated by Eric’s request to The Injured Jockeys Fund, who themselves quite fittingly are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

Speaking afterwards, Eric said; “I would just like to thank everyone for coming along, getting involved and supporting the day. I’ve got so many people to thank I don’t know where to start. It has been a fantastic occasion, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself all day and it has been great to see so many people travel to be here, many from all over the country”

Equally Willoughby Cricket Club would like to extend their thanks to everyone who came along and showed their support to what was an exceptional day at The Green. Likewise, it goes without saying everyone connected with WCC extends their sincere gratitude and thanks to Eric for everything he has done over the last 50 years and continues to do for the club and its members.