The 1sts kicked off their season with double disappointment, with a cup exit to rivals Rochdale Catholic Club following a complete washout on Saturday.

Saturday's loss to rain was especially unfortunate as the game was all set to feature the 1st XI debut of our Australian star Meg Phillips. Poor Meg, who hails from Tasmania, can rarely have experienced conditions like this, despite a couple of freezing matches for the women's side. In fact it was a close call between Meg and fellow debutant Crabbers as to who had put on the most layers for the occasion - ironically Crabbers in his gear looked as though he'd walked straight off a 1930s Australian team photo. The Ashton boys were in good form and many stayed through the afternoon but common sense saw the game abandoned after an early tea around 3.30pm.

Despite the afternoon disappointment, spirits were high following Bury's promotion from League Two, and there was a rare old treat in the evening with over 100 people packing the pavilion to celebrate Duncan's 70th birthday. Indeed such was the fare on offer that some hardy souls stayed pretty much the entire night, ideal preparation for what would be a hard-fought cup tie!

Despite a damp start, play was able to start around 2.30pm Sunday. With the outfield sodden, skipper Marshy won the toss against Catholics and elected to bat first. After a steady start from the impressive Nick Marsh and Crabbers, Doc P and Mahmood got the innings some momentum with wildly different styles - Doc P all neat lines and elegant drives, Mahmood playing the kind of "whirling dervish" innings that so frustrates opponents - indeed there were quite a few words exchanged between Mahmood and some of the fielders, but all in relatively good spirit. Unfortunatly both batters fell in quick succession after a 50 partnership, prompting a collapse from a health 110-3 to a highly disappointing 142 all out.

Would such a total be enough? Totts had plenty of bowling options but our lack of match practice was evident, with the opening overs proving a somewhat stiff affair! Dell and Mulkeen Snr got the visitors reply off to a steady start, with a mix of canny know-how and a few aggressive shots. The introduction of young Stephen Brooks brought the breakthrough; having served up a couple of earluy boundaries, young Brooky beat Dell's bat for a valuable wicket. When Mulkeen Snr fell next over to Asif, we were right back in it at 34-2. Asif took another wicket, but with the innings in danger of imploding Mulkeen Jnr and our old nemesis Subby Shah came together in what was ultimately to prove a game-changing partnership. Brooky continued to probe away and was very unlucky not to pick up several more wickets, while Mahmood provided a second spinning option. The innings progressed with a whole host of near misses punctuated with searing boundaries as the total reached 100.

The dismissal of Danny Jnr brought Totts back into the game, and when 3 wickets fell in quick succession- including a brilliant direct hit run out from KC - we were right in it. However despite rotating the bowlers, we were unable to dismiss Subby, whose score of 60 not out was made in difficult conditions and was the defining innings of the day despite a couple of late let offs. Catholics got over the line with 7 wickets down and around 3 overs to spare. Their match practice clearly told in the end, in what proved to be an entertaining and topsy turvy match. Kudos to Ste Brooks and Asif in particular who bowled some lovely stuff. Ultimately we probably suffered from a lack of runs, with several batsmen getting in but unable to play the big innings that could have won the game.

Quote of the day:
Si: "That Subby, he only ever gets runs against us"
John Barrow: "He got 100 yesterday ..."

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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