Happy Chappy hails treble winners

Premier Division champions Vernon Carus with the Palace Shield
Premier Division champions Vernon Carus with the Palace Shield
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Vernon Carus skipper Paul Chapman Jr has hailed his hat-trick heroes.

The men from Factory Lane were crowned Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division champions for the third successive year earlier this month.

Their victory over neighbours and deadly rivals Penwortham last Saturday week ensured they finished on top of the table – six points ahead of second placed Longridge.

It was certainly one of the most exciting finishes to the season in a long time with three teams all in with a chance of winning the title with just two games to go.

As it was, Vernons’ victory over Great Ecc on the penultimate weekend of the season ended their hopes and meant the destiny of the title was a two-horse race heading into the last weekend.

Longridge kept Vernons honest by winning their final game against Great Ecc but there was to be no title glory for the Chipping Road outfit due to Vernons’ victory at Middleforth Green.

Interestingly, Vernons are the first team to win the top division in three successive years since Longridge, who won the title from 1996 to 1998.

“It’s been a great all-round team effort this season,” Chapman said. “We don’t really single out individuals.

“Paul Hayton took 50 wickets but everyone has contributed.”

Vernons’ success was built around their formidable bowling attack which was led by Hayton and Ben Llewellin.

The opening pair snaffled 97 wickets between them over the course of the season with Hayton finishing third in the overall league bowling statistics.

He took 53 wickets at an average of 12.47 – only Longridge skipper Ian Simpson (59) and Garstang’s Ian Walling (58) claimed more scalps.

Pace bowler Llewellin also finished inside the top-10 of leading wicket-takers. His 44 victims at 13.34 saw him finish in seventh position overall.

On the batting front, Vernons were able to post imposing totals or chase down scores thanks to Ian Dunn’s fine form at the top of the order.

The former skipper scored 555 runs over the season at an average of 37 and with a top score of 78.

Christian Ash (395) and James McDonagh (390) also chipped in with important runs at vital moments.

The leading run scorer overall was Great Ecc’s Mohamed Nadeem, who accumulated 815 runs at an average of 54.33.

He finished 99 runs ahead of Fulwood and Broughton’s Mark Smith.