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FAREWELL TO OUR SHEILA

It doesn't seem like 5 minutes since we first received the exciting news that not only would Lancashire's women's side be signing Tasmanian and Aussie Starlet Meg Phillips for the season, but that she'd also be joining Tottington St John's. While most "bigger" clubs might greet such news with enthusiasm as part of a yearly recruitment cycle, it's safe to say that we were all a little taken aback - an overseas women's first class player at Crompton Meadows? Surely not. This was of course the brainwave and masterstroke of Jen Laycock and the LCB, who of course had been instrumental in helping us to secure some superb winter coaching spearheaded by local girl, Heywood and England's Kate Cross.

The realists suggested she might have a warm up game and then disappear off to the Red Rose for the duration of the year, never to see our place again. The reality couldn't have been more pleasing - a committed, talented and humble player who won over everyone from the first minute she arrived until her final appearance, inspiring juniors and seniors alike. Turns out that there really couldn't have been a better fit for the club.

Her introduction to life at Tottington couldn't have been more English - an absolute howler of an early April day, with freezing rain and biting cold, and a wicket that turned rapidly to mud. Did this faze her? Not a bit. The Totts girls, playing their first ever match on home soil, blitzed their opposition and Meg, now dubbed "Sheila" by Totts and Lancs skipper Jasmine Titmuss, was at the fore, with a superb unbeaten match winning knock. This being Totts, we pulled out all the stops to ensure a proper welcome ...

Sand and roos

Clearly that first experience of Tottington life didn't faze her, as just a week later she was off to Harrogate for an even more freezing experience in the White Rose county ... in typical Totts fashion we reckoned that she'd been around enough to start taking the mickey out of properly ...

Adventures

She'd even been supplied with the correct clothing ...

That hat

Next up was county action and it wasn't long before Sheila was making fast friends over at Old Trafford, but that didn't stop the next piece of news, which was that she'd make her debut for the Totts men's 1st XI against East Lancs (initially this was to have been against Ashton, but of course the inevitable rain killed that one). She fitted in straight away, and of course anyone who can actually bend over and pick up a ball in the field adds some immediate benefit to the 1sts ... as it turned out, she managed to get a quick knock at the end of the innings, bowl some useful overs and definitely impress in the field - as well as making a big impression on players and spectators alike with her friendliness and good humour - with the Ashes still not underway, there was plenty of banter flying about. Time spent with "Mother" will of course have provided her with an excellent education in Tottington folklore as well as ensuring she'll now know the ideal place to buy 12 can multipacks of Coke at the absolute best price for a 40 mile radius.

So, history made in the NMCL First Division, and the appearances for both men's and women's sides continued apace - the women were blazing a trail in their league while the men, well, they played as well. Meg was also making a huge impression on the junior girls, who found a real role model to aspire to, alongside the class acts of Boulton, Wilcox and Titmuss. Back at Red Rose duty, Meg was also to help her county teammates become the T20 champions and remain undefeated in that format the entire season - a phenomenal effort from the Lancs Lightning!

Meg's time in the UK came to an end on Sept 1st, and it was little surprise that her departure was marked by dozens of messages wishing her the best from county and club colleagues alike. She has made a big impact on all those she's met and has been nothing but a huge credit to her backers, the Lords Taverners of Northern New South Wales, to the Adam Gilchrist Foundation, her Tasmanian state side, Lancashire CCC, Tottington St John's and to herself. We wish her nothing but huge success in the future and hope that one day she finds herself back among the hills and mud at Crompton Meadows! Go well, Sheila!

Meg

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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