Village outfit Eccleston are aiming high

Iain Bradley
Iain Bradley

Chairman Iain Bradley has not ruled out the prospect of taking Eccleston into the Northern League Division One next season – should they finish in the top two this year.

The villagers have made a handy start to the new Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division campaign after winning five of their opening eight league fixtures.

At one point they topped the table in the first few weeks and are currently nicely placed in fourth spot – 12 points behind Croston in second place.

Teams who finish in the top two positions have the option of moving up into the Northern league – or rejecting it and remaining where they are.

Last season’s Palace Shield champions Garstang and the runners-up Fulwood and Broughton, both decided to move into the Northern League, while Lancaster and Kendal were relegated.

As a small village club with a young squad, Bradley admits his men are already punching above their weight and they would have to think long and hard should the possibility of being promoted become available to them.

The harsh reality for Eccleston was illustrated on Sunday when they were well beaten by established Northern League club Chorley at Windsor Park in the Lancashire Knockout Cup.

They were put to the sword by Chorley’s Sri Lankan professional Gayen Maneeshan, who struck a brilliant century.

Despite the obvious step up, Bradley – who is an integral member of the first team – is keen to see the club progress as much as possible.

“We were talking about this after the nets this week, finishing in the top two is what we are looking for,” he said. “But it is a very big step up that Garstang and Fulwood and Broughton have taken.

“You go from being an amateur club to having to find a pro. We just played Chorley last weekend and we saw the standard. It’s a big step. The biggest difference between the two sides was the pro and they had players like Ed Moulton – they are the next level up.

“If we were to finish in the top two, I don’t know what we would do. We would have to have a meeting, but as a club I would like us to progress, it’s just the finance of it all. We wwere saying if we had a pro who could score 120 like the Chorley pro did then there would be a bit more balance.”

Despite the defeat on Sunday, Eccleston head to Great Eccleston fine spirits after a comprehensive win over New Longton on Saturday.

They were helped by scoring over 200, with openers Sam Bromley (40) and Tom Wilkinson (74) putting a 100 runs on the board after just 10 overs.

“Great Eccleston have always been a good side, I think they have lost a couple of players, but they will be tough to play against,” he added.