Sunday 11th August 2013 will see Rockhampton Cricket Club play host to Buckinghamshire side Dinton Cricket Club in the Semi-Final of the prestigious National Village Knock-out Competition where a 'chance of a lifetime' trip to the home of cricket, Lord's, awaits the winner.
Club Chairman John Hore has described this as the biggest fixture in the Club’s illustrious 141-year history that has also included big-time visits from Gloucestershire and two Lashings World XI fixtures.
Hore said "the whole Club is buzzing this year with the incredible progress in this competition. We wanted to give it a real go this Season but performances have surpassed expectations and I am delighted for the lads and grateful for the fantastic support that has been shown to the Team throughout."
And Rockhampton CC's James Cooke told Cricket World: "This is by some distance the biggest game in our club’s history so wondered if it might be of interest to your club cricket section. The final is at Lords so we are all extremely excited and quite nervous!"
The Rams completed a remarkably comfortable nine-wicket demolition of Berkshire Champions Wraysbury in front of another 200-strong bumper crowd at the Boundary Field last week. Sam Nichols took four for 35 with the ball as the visitors were restricted to 146 all out in their 40 overs.
Village-born brothers Matt and Will Tyler then shared a stand of 81 for the first wicket before Will was dismissed for 28. Guy Brothwood brought the Rams home with Matt Tyler (60 not out) achieving the victory target with almost 10 overs to spare.
The Rams commenced their captivating journey back on 5th May 2013 having been entered into Group 18 of the Competition which sees 313 villages across the country competing for glory this year.
Rockhampton started with a solid home win against Redmarley followed by a 70-run victory over Apperley. An 84-run victory away at Kingsholm set up an exciting Gloucestershire Area Final away at Painswick on 16 June where the Rams romped to yet another comprehensive win, the margin again being 70 runs.
Despite an extensive history in the competition the Rams have never previously passed the second round, always having devoted maximum resource to Saturday League Cricket where the club now sits in fourth position in the Glos/Wilts Division of the WEPL setup.
An influx of players to the Club in recent years has seen a real growth in strength and depth though and the Second XI now find themselves top of the Gloucester Division. Having the chance to showcase their skills on the National stage has been a real opportunity to put the club on the map and has also made for some fantastic entertainment and some big crowds.
The Rams took some 50 travelling supporters to Tiddington in Oxfordshire for the first round of the national stage where wickets for Chris Pearce and runs for Will Tyler saw the visitors cling on for a hard-fought four-wicket victory.
That set up an International affair for the last 16 and a very special day in the clubs history as South Wales Champions Ynystawe brought nearly 100 supporters to the Boundary Field on 14th July 2013.
With a hundred or so Rams also bedded in for a sunny afternoon of cricket it was an electric and occasionally boisterous atmosphere as players competed for Club and Country.
Runs for skipper James Williams (81) and wicket-keeper Rowan Cartlidge (62) saw the Rams rack up 259 for six on a good wicket. The Rams then shared the wickets about with James Hancox claiming the vital wicket of Shaun Jenkins who had smashed 52 from 42 balls and was threatening to take the visitors home.
The Ynystawe lower order fell away though and they closed on 157 giving the Rams an emphatic 102-run margin of victory.
Dinton have had a similarly impressive run to what is effectively the National South Final and they too will be welcomed into the village on Sunday by a large and expectant home crowd.
The game will commence at 1pm for what promises to be a gripping Semi-Final with the dream prize of a Lords Final awaiting the winners, a prize even more alluring than the trophy itself.
Team captain Williams will have a tough challenge controlling nerves and excitement on Sunday. "We have to try and put Lord's out of the mind and concentrate on playing the same cricket we have played throughout the tournament so far," he said.
"The boys have been superb and the draw has been kind to us with home advantage in these latter stages. Sunday is another wonderful opportunity for everyone at the Club and we are itching to get underway."
Entry on Sunday is free and all visitors will be warmly welcomed to one of the more picturesque settings in the district.
The BBQ should be as fiery as the strokeplay and a capacity crowd can expect to be thoroughly entertained. For more information please visit www.rockhamptoncc.co.uk or follow the Club on Twitter @RockhamptonRams #OneGameFromLords.