Please be aware any opinions are my own and are not representative of any North Wales League official, player or club (especially Llandudno CC)
My Biggest Rivalries
Next week sees the biggest rivalry, not just in cricket, but in all of sport take place.
The Ashes between England and Australia will be 30 days of fist pumping, heart pounding, adrenaline-fueled cricket and has all the makings of being as good as the 2005 series. These two teams will take chunks out of each other in pursuit of the prize.
Last night saw the ‘Battle of the Roses’ T20 between the victorious Lancashire and beaten Yorkshire. A rivalry that travels down the M62 and is arguably one of the most raucous atmospheres any sport will experience.
Whether it is from the Western Terrace at Headingley, or the temporary/permanent party stand at Old Trafford, the opposition players are getting it from rival fans.
At grassroots level, rivalries like these are the cornerstone of every league up and down the land. They add fuel to the fire of a long league season.
But what makes a rivalry in North Wales Cricket?
It is not just the close proximity of some of the sides, but that is a huge factor. Some clubs can be less than a five-minute car journey, or some players will drink in the same pubs on a Saturday night, making it impossible for bragging rights not to exist. Perfect Derby Days!
Then there is the pursuit of silverware, the biggest incentive of them all. When two teams are evenly matched, going toe-to-toe, in the hope of being the ones that lift the trophy at the end of the season. It almost naturally forces a rivalry to blossom from the garden of drama that cricket can grow.
Considering this, I have listed my top 5 on field rivalries during my time playing for Llandudno and the starting point of each such rivalry.
I will start by saying the biggest rivalry does not make the list. Llandudno v Colwyn Bay in any sport is the biggest game of any season.
Football, cricket, rugby, tennis, chess or bowls it doesn’t matter! However, we do not play in the same league and have not played a competitive fixture since 2006 so I cannot include them. It does not stop the lads having some friendly exchanges on a night out though…
5 vs Swansea: 2011 – 2012
This looks an odd one on paper to a lot of people but there is a reason behind it.
In consecutive years we faced Swansea in the Welsh Cup final, on both occasions losing to our South Walian opponents.
They were the better team on both days because we under performed twice and that has left a sour taste in my mouth!
One of their players, although very talented, was also an arrogant **** which gave the games a little needle.
That player has now moved on but I would still like to play Swansea again to put right some of the wrongs of our performances and see if we are good enough to beat them.
4 vs St Asaph: 2006 – onwards
This is nothing to do with being a local derby, because there are clubs closer geographically, but more to do with the individual fixtures that we play against each other and the way both clubs operate.
Both clubs pride themselves on bringing through homegrown local talent into their 1st XI’s. The core players of both clubs are all similar ages and have been playing against each other for years.
We have been fairly tight together in terms of league performance in recent years and it has led to some brilliant, close games of cricket, which has developed a rivalry further between the two clubs. Both teams play hard cricket against each other and that shows on the scorecards at the end of a day’s play.
In 2006, we played the Saints at The Oval in an unsavoury game. We lost the toss and chased leather for 48 overs as Mitch Williams cracked 200 not out and they scored 328-4 dec, going overboard with cheers and Rick Flair ‘wooooo’s!’ for every boundary.
They then had some nasty personal words to say to Duncan Midgley whilst he was batting, which we shall not repeat.
So he blasted 152 to keep them quiet. For those who knew our team back then, we were more than happy to give it out, so we let the Saints know when we were getting close to the target.
However, it was Neil Sandland who got things going for the rivalry. Having lost our third wicket and with 3 runs needed, Steve Smith strode out.
A single brought Smithers on strike. Neil proceeded to fire down 2 deliberate wides down the leg side to prevent Steve scoring the winning runs. He went for 92 off his 13 overs. We chased it down. For the loss of 3 wickets. With 10 overs still to play…
3 vs Menai Bridge: 2011 – onwards
This rivalry is a fairly recent one. Since 2011, both teams have been in and around the title hunt, barring a couple of years as Llandudno rebuilt after a mass exodus of players.
This means that when we meet in a league fixture, it takes on extra significance. Both teams play hard, full throttle cricket.
Regardless of the match situation they are fixtures that can change in a blink of an eye.
2011 saw an epic contest at The Oval. Having batted first and scored 289-5 dec Llandudno were in the box seat at halfway. Nathan Shearer then scored 154 and Menai were 237-3 in reply. Cruising towards their target with big names still in the shed.
Wickets then fell and a tense finish saw Menai see out their 60 overs on 264-9 to claim a losing draw. Epic game, sparking a new rivalry and Menai’s credentials as title challengers and eventual winners in years to come.
The way both teams set up makes for fantastic matches, played intensely and with great skills on show. It is a fixture that brings out the best in individuals on both sides and I am expecting no different this weekend. It should be another classic encounter.
2 vs Bangor: 2004 – onwards
I have been involved in some titanic clashes with Bangor over the years.
In my early playing days, I remember playing against the likes of Pete Banham, Kev ‘Bach’ Williams and Gareth Edwards and they were proper Bangor boys.
They wore their heart on their sleeve and let you know you were in a game, both verbally and in their performances. It seemed that every game was close, whether it was one side pushing for victory, or holding out for a draw, you came off the field aching from your efforts, knowing you had worked hard for the result.
The defining incident for me occurred many moons ago and I have labelled it the ‘Phantom Over’. We were chasing victory at Bangor, needing wickets late on. The afore mentioned Kev ‘Bach’ was resolute in his defences, he was not for moving and looking solid. Elgan Williams stormed in, the third ball of the over and sent Kev’s bails into orbit.
Incredible celebrations broke out on the field, it was a massive wicket, only for Bangor’s scorer to run onto the field to say he had finished his spell and wasn’t eligible to bowl.
The umpires had already allowed the over to start and continue (Out of interest, What is the rule in that situation? We still are not sure 15 years later!).
After a ‘debate’ on the field, the ball was subsequently called dead, the wicket struck off and a new bowler requested to start the over from the beginning.
The game eventually ended in a tie thanks to 70 odd from Kev and thus, the rivalry was born…
1 vs Mochdre: The Beginning of Time – The End of Time
Derby Day! This is the big one for me, the A470 Derby.
It has produced brilliant individual performances to win matches and produces sublime cricket and some awful stuff as well!
Both clubs have brought through their own players, coming up from the junior ranks. Players often bump into each other on nights out as well, so bragging rights are absolutely essential.
It produces some unbelievable matches. None more so than our meeting earlier in the year where Mochdre managed to defend 64 by bowling us out for 48! There was also a fixture in 2008, when Mochdre were cruising at 89-1 and 138-3 chasing 219 before being 143 all out, losing 7 wickets for 5 runs!
Matches are often won by inspired moments and performances of individual brilliance. Hard fought contests where nobody wants to be the person that blinks first, or costs their side the match.
Neither side wants to lose to the other, however, there is a mutual respect between the clubs. Both clubs recognise that they are doing things the right way by bringing juniors through their ranks and integrating them into their senior sides.
The proper way. As players, we have been playing against each other since under 11’s cricket, which intensifies things even more. There are always more people doted around the grounds during these games, whether at Black Marsh or at The Oval and it makes for a great spectacle.
Despite these rivalries, there is one thing that these teams share, which is most important of all. No matter how hard you go at each other on the field, once the match is finished we can have a beer afterwards and reflect on a day’s hard work.
There is no animosity towards each other (as long as lines are not crossed, like in 2006, which they rarely are) just appreciation of a good day’s play.
At the end of the day we all play for the enjoyment of the game and the beer afterwards.
But, let it be said, the beer does taste better when you beat your nearest rivals…
PLAYERS: Please tell us about some of your keenest rivalries over the years. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org