Skipper Wes plans Royle ascent to make Vernon Carus Cricket Club great once more

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Captain ​Wes Royle has a burning ambition of one day making Vernon Carus great again.

Royle’s men currently reside in a midtable spot in the current Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division table after an inconsistent start to the season.

It is fair to say that mediocrity has been the name of the game for the club in recent times.

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Barring the summer of 2021 when the club finished in runners-up spot and won promotion to the Northern League, it’s been a barren few years for the men from Factory Lane.

Vernon Carus captain and batsman Wes Royle, rightVernon Carus captain and batsman Wes Royle, right
Vernon Carus captain and batsman Wes Royle, right

Their stint in the Northern League was fleeting – relegated after just one campaign where they picked up just two wins all season and finished rock-bottom of the table.

Last year, the team very much suffered a relegation hangover as they flirted with the drop zone in the Palace Shield.

It’s all a far cry from the early part of this century when Vernons were, by and large, the lords of all they surveyed.

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Before promotion and relegation was implemented in 2017, the club dominated the Palace Shield, winning the title nine times in 18 years – finishing in runners-up spot on four occasions as well.

Despite all that success, Vernons have in recent years witnessed some of their old Palace Shield foes such as Garstang, Longridge and Fulwood & Broughton win promotion and flourish at the higher level.

And Royle insists there is no reason why Vernons could not compete in the higher echelons of the Northern League in the future.

Royle said: "When you look at clubs like Garstang, Longridge and Fulwood – we pitted our wits against them for many years and more often that not, we came out on top.

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"They have gone on to take the next step and done a great job of promoting the Palace Shield in the Northern League. So my No.1 goal as captain is to build the club and the team – everything around that – into making us great again.

"It’s been no secret that we have been very much in a transitional phase over the last five years. I think we are starting to see those green shoots of recovery and building upon them.

"A mantra for the club over the next five or 10 years is to get to that level – that’s where we want to be."

​The creation of two divisions in the Northern Premier Cricket League next year has been backed by Royle.

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​It was announced in August last year that there had been a proposal to make the NPCL a two-division league and leave the Palace Shield as an amateur competition.

And a Special General Meeting on the eve of the new season, ratified those plans. Divisions One and Two of the NPCL will have 10 teams, as will the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield top flight.

A number of Palace Shield teams – including Vernons – have won promotion in recent times and then been relegated after just one season.

The hangover from that brief stint at the higher level has then often lingered into the following summer.

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Vernons were a case in point last year, while Eccleston find themselves at the bottom of the Palace Shield currently after dropping out of the NPCL last year after just one season.

This year, the two promoted clubs – Euxton and Mawdesley – find themselves in the bottom two in the NPCL.

"As a club we don’t regret the decision to play in the Northern League after winning promotion,” Royle said. “As an amateur player, you want to play as high as you can.

"But we are not the only club who has been in this situation. The leagues have recognised that the clubs who are going up are coming straight back down in most cases.

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"That can then have a bit of an adverse effect on the way that a club moves forward – we had a tough time last season.”

​Vernons’ target this season is to finish inside the top half of the Palace Shield Premier Division.

​Under the new revamped pyramid system, the clubs which finish inside the top six will make up part of the NCPL’s new Division Two next season.

They will be joined by Carlisle and the bottom three of this year’s NCPL. Vernons currently find themselves in eighth spot in the table.

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"The expectation is minimum top six because we want to be part of the new Division Two,” said Royle, who takes his team to current leaders Barrow this weekend. “This weekend is going to be tough. Barrow are a very good team.

"I am very much of the viewpoint that cricket is a habit; winning is a habit, losing is a habit.

"They came up last season winning a lot of games, they have kept the same overseas amateur who is a very good player and they are winning a lot this season.

"On the flip side, we had a tough season in the Northern League, a tough one last year so losing became a habit but we are starting to see a change.”

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Fixtures: Northern League – Blackpool v Fleetwood, Euxton v Settle, Leyland v Chorley, Longridge v St Annes, Morecambe v Kendal, Netherfield v Fulwood & Broughton.

Palace Shield Premier Division – Barrow v Vernon Carus, Eccleston v Penwortham, Great Eccleston v Carnforth, Lancaster v Rufford, Penrith v Thornton Cleveleys, Torrisholme v Preston.