Sports Awards: Porthill Park Cricket Club snatch victory from the jaws of defeat



Porthill Park fought to the finish in 2019 to ensure they remained the team to beat in the North Staffs and South Cheshire League.

They’ve dominated local cricket in recent years, but it appeared as though they would be relinquishing their crown last summer.

As the Premier Division season ventured in to the final furlong, Porthill Park found themselves 54 points behind leaders Meakins.

At that stage, even some of their own members had resigned themselves to missing out on top spot.

But rather than throw in the towel, John Hancock’s side embarked on a dramatic turnaround, which included beating Meakins on the final day of the season to defend their title.

Meakins suffered a wobble with back-to-back defeats to allow Porthill Park to chip away at their advantage to set up the winner-takes-all clash.

Meakins were still favourites heading in to the last game as they boasted a 14-point lead, but Hancock’s men delivered on the day to scupper their rivals’ hopes.

Porthill Park were bowled out for 123, but showed their quality with the ball to dismiss the visitors for 102.

It was their eighth successive win and provided the perfect example of why you should never give up.

“It helped us being in second place because we played with a bit less pressure and came in to form at the right time,” said Hancock.

“We played with a smile on our faces because the expectation was that Meakins would just keep winning.”

It was a tough year for batsmen, but Porthill’s Ryan Hassett still managed 474 league runs, while Louis Allison (436), Hancock (422) and Jack Beech (411) were not far behind.

Porthill Park’s bowling has long been their strong suit, so it was no surprise to see former Northamptonshire seamer Muhammad Azharullah top the Premier Division wicket-taking charts with 65 victims.

That included a superb 8-44 to skittle Meakins in the title decider.

And their potency with the new ball was further emphasised by the fact that Ben Cotton also claimed 44 wickets.

It was Porthill Park’s third top-flight title in four years, although they were denied the chance to complete the double after surprisingly losing to Bignall End in the Talbot Cup.

Porthill Park have now been nominated in the Senior Team category at the Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by club chairman Craig Chorlton.

He said: “There was a sense of togetherness. The fact that at one point the gap was more than 50 points, other people including club members had written the season off and looked for excuses.

“However, John Hancock and key senior players led from the front. They showed more determination and even though performances were not as fluent, they kept grinding out results from some potentially sticky situations.

“They showed maturity and patience by putting together a string of wins.

“And there was belief. In the final game against Meakins, they produced a poor batting performance, but still posted a total which they believed was enough.

“Then there was Azharullah’s performance, which many have described as the best they have witnessed. To be crowned champions sent an unbelievable euphoria throughout the whole club. Everyone was extremely proud.”





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