It has been quite a journey for Bagnall Norton Cricket Club since they were formed ahead of the 2015 North Staffs and South Cheshire League season.
Norton, a famous local cricket name, faced an uncertain future after deciding to leave their Community Drive home after months of disputes with landowners the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO).
The club which had seen England’s Jim Laker and legendary West Indies duo Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell star as club professionals was in real danger of going out of existence.
But Bagnall stepped in to ensure Norton’s name lived on as the two clubs merged – and set about creating a remarkable local cricket story.
Norton were short of a ground, while Bagnall required playing reinforcements, so from the outset it looked like a match made in heaven.
Their first team were placed in Division Three and finished in fourth place in their debut season, before ending in third in 2016.
However, ambitions were always high and the arrival of Justin Mould from Premier Division Whitmore outlined their intentions to climb the league ladder.
And that’s exactly what they have done.
They won promotion from Division Three in 2017 and have since clinched the Division Two and Division One titles in successive years to reach the top flight of the NSSCL.
Bagnall Norton have made shrewd acquisitions along the way with overseas player Asif Raza being a star attraction, while Staffordshire legend Greg Willott was also tempted to join their rise up the league ladder.
They reached the Premier Division in style, as well, with a final-day victory over Burslem – who were also promoted – securing the Division One title.
In fact, they have lost just seven of their last 64 league matches to highlight the impact they have made on the local cricket scene.
It was Raza and skipper Mould who led the way with the bat in 2019 as they amassed 427 and 408 runs respectively.
And Raza and Willott were the two stand-out bowlers in Division One last summer as they topped the wicket-taking charts with 51 league wickets apiece.
Spinner Alex Graham also chipped in with 33 victims as Bagnall Norton made their way to the top division of the NSSCL.
They have now been nominated in the Senior Team category at the Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by Bagnall Norton chairman Nigel Meakin.
He said: “We are just a small village club built on our members’ foundations on a journey that we set out on when we formed in 2015 with the joining of Bagnall and Norton cricket clubs.
“We are a family club who look to put smiles on the faces of our members, over the last few seasons this has been possible due to the hard work put in by everyone from the scorers to the tea ladies which has made our success possible.
“If you had said when we were formed we would have had three first XI promotions, two second XI promotions and a second XI cup win (Cric KO 2019 winners) I would have thought you were mad, but with this club anything’s possible.”