Monday 3 December 2007The Cockspur Cup in 2007 attracted an entry of 396 clubs, an increase of 41 clubs on the previous year and an impressive 71 more than in 2005. The competition followed the same format as in previous years with the clubs who had been entered being split into 16 geographical groups. However the boundaries of these groups were changed in some cases due to the increase of clubs entering in certain areas but conversely there was the continued marked decline in entries from North of the Border. In 2007 only nine Scottish clubs entered the competition so Group 1 was extended to include the clubs in the North East of England as well (the old Group 2 area).
Groups 2 and 3 included all the other clubs from Yorkshire who entered along with some clubs from Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The draw was then made with seeding based on achievements in last year’s Cockspur Cup and then final places in ECB Premier Leagues. Each group was drawn in such a way to maximize the chances of clubs meeting opponents from different leagues or divisions but also ensuring that travel was kept to a minimum in the early rounds. A survey of the competing clubs showed that this initiative was very well received by the majority of the competing clubs.
The one aspect of this year’s competition that was unique was the horrendous weather that was experienced countrywide in the early stages of the competition, in previous years inclement weather tended to hit one area rather than nationwide. More matches were abandoned or postponed than in any previous running of the competition. In the 2nd & 3rd Rounds only 10 out of 192 ties were played on the scheduled date for the match – the remainder had to be rearranged! Some teams were extremely resourceful in getting ties completed including a number of matches being played on alterative or reversed venues at short notice.
Without the goodwill of a number of the clubs involved it would have been very difficult to reach a stage where the finalists were in place for the scheduled Lord’s date. That one Semi-Final was played on the scheduled date and the other was only delayed by a week was a tremendous achievement.
New clubs in the competition enjoyed some success once again but it was very noticeable this year that a number of familiar names progressed to the latter stages. St Just (Cornwall) for the second year running reached the Semi-Final and once again went out at the hands of Bromley (Kent), although this time they had the pleasure of a home draw and Bromley had to make the trek for the match. This is some achievement as they have only entered this competition on these two occasions! Chester-le-Street (Durham) reached the other Semi-Final losing out to the 2004 winners from Kibworth (Leicestershire).
Totton & Eling CC (ex-BAT Sports, Southampton) continued their success in national competitions reaching the last 16 – they had been in the Final of the Indoor Championship in 2005 on won that title in the following year. The beaten Quarter-Finalists were Henley, West Indian Cavaliers (Nottinghamshire), Kidderminster and Cambridge Granta. The biggest hard-luck story has to be that of the Barnt Green captain who drove from his home to Kibworth for two hours in the pouring rain to conduct a toss of the coin to decide the Group Final – and then drive home again after LOSING! There is no record of his thoughts on that journey home but the it was possibly worse that returning from the Lord’s Final in 2005 having been beaten by Horsham.