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WALTZING TO TOTTY: "SHEILA" STARS AS TOTTS WOMEN GET OFF TO A FLIER

It's fairly safe to say that in the 128 year history of Totty St Johns there have been some scenes. In the last 7 years in particular, the place has undergone a transformation unthinkable to players of the past - new and expanded clubhouse (with a further extension set for September), massively improved facilities, an artificial strip, 40 grand's worth of nets ... but Sunday April 12th 2015 saw a new milestone. The official home debut of our women's side, which not only featured the current Lancs women's captain but an Aussie starlet who is tipped for international honours. It's unlikely that Tasmanian star Meg Phillips, already dubbed "Sheila" by her adoring teammates, will have experienced much like her first visit to Crompton Meadows! Read on to find out more about "Sheila's" adventures in Tottington ...

Before we go on, a quick caveat. Your reporter was unable to attend even a second of the game thanks to a frankly ludicrous decision to make a 250 mile round trip to the North East despite horrendous weather warnings, so what follows could be entirely fictional. Of course regular readers will know that actually attending games doesn't tend to have much effect on any of our stories - check out two years' worth of ridiculous rounders match reports for confirmation. That said, the wonders of social media allowed me to keep in touch with the pre-match build up and ongoing developments throughout the day!

After a balmy Spring week with temperatures hitting the 60s, the Lancashire weather decided not to play ball, with an absolutely dismal forecast predicting 80 mph winds and torrential rain throughout Sunday. The morning proceeded with an increasing amount of correspondence about conditions flying round. Unlike their male counterparts, many of whom live within a couple of miles of Crompton Meadows, our women's side is more widely scattered. Given the forecast, and the need for players to travel from as far afield as Wakefield, Nottingham, Birmingham and the far side of the Horsehead Nebula, a swift and decisive stance needed to be taken - so we let everyone turn up regardless, and made them play in the rain.

To be fair, conditions at Tottington were fairly typical for April ...

Spot of rain

After a week when the usual willing hands had managed to get the ground into a decent state considering the horrible end to March, Kieran stepped up and won many new admirers by his fantastic efforts to get the game on. With the umpires deserving much credit for agreeing to a shorter 20/20 match, and two willing teams, the scene was set for a historic encounter. Poor Sheila just had time to contemplate life as she got kitted out. Surely coming from Tasmania she's used to the odd stiff breeze and temps in the low 40s? Of course it was low 40s Fahrenheit in Totty, perhaps explaining why she and Lancs skipper Jasmine looked slightly chilly ...

Meg and Jasmine

Twitterverse speaks - 1

Twitterverse speaks - 2

With Ben Ryhdding making first use of what was a proper Totty wicket, the visitors managed 105 from their overs, an innings helped by one huge contribution of 78 from Natasha Sunderland. Given the slightly damp conditions, this type of total can often prove very hard to chase down, but not this day! Turning straight round, TSJCC Women got off to a great start until last year's top batsman Charlotte Boulton unluckily dragged on to her stumps. This brought Sheila to the crease for her first taste of a hard, bouncy English wicket, and she took charge - TSJ knocking the runs off with 3 overs to spare to secure a 9 wicket win and set a strong marker for the season to come.

At this point it's only fitting to turn to one of the supporters, who quite rightly echoed the feelings of all:

Twitterverse speaks - 3

It was still pretty cold and wet though ...

Meg and Jasmine 2

As the winning runs were struck and Jen and co tweeted of the success, my phone buzzed and I was able to check to see what had happened. Stuck on the M62 near IKEA Leeds in conditions which can only be described as "cataclysmic", I was more astonished that the game had gone ahead than the result - feelings which were reinforced with every mile I got closer to home!

We offer our grateful thanks to the players and supporters of both sides for putting up with those conditions, to the umpires for the fantastic decision to let us play, to Kieran for efforts on the day and the other lads for theirs both on the day and in the week leading up to the game. We're rightly proud to host our women's team and we hope they have the successful season their spirit and talent deserve.

On what was a remarkable day in the history of our tiny club, we feel it's fair dinkum to leave the last word to Sheila, who was not only game enough to turn out in what must have been the most alien conditions possible, but also put in a star performance. Her comments perfectly echo all that we love about our fab little club ... here's to the next match!

Our Aussie star

Meg's view

I Will if You Will Biffaward

Beryl Avenue, Tottington, Bury, BL8 3NF
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Twitter: @TottySports