The Cockspur Cup And The Road To Lord’s – 19/04/2004 The club cricket season kicks off for proper this weekend with the first Round of the Cockspur Cup. Three Year Deal Cockspur Rum associated with Barbados since 1884, has entered into a three-year agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to sponsor the National Club Championship and this Sunday will see 332 of the top club sides in England and Scotland competing in this year’s 1st Round. Cockspur therefore returns to sponsor a competition with which it was associated with from 1987 to 1990. Blackpool Victory The last year of Cockspur’s sponsorship in 1990 saw Surrey Championship side Cheam lose to Blackpool Cricket Club in a last over finish at Lord’s. Cheam’s side that day featured a 17 year old called Mark Butcher, as well as Surrey’s hard hitting middle order batsmen Ally Brown. The Surrey club have also had the current County skipper Jon Batty as their registered professional for a number of years. Cheam The Team Cockspur will be following Cheam as they take on Wembley ” On the Road to Lord’s” this Sunday at Peaches Close. Gary Martin, Cheam’s experienced opening batsman who played with Mark Butcher in the 1990 Final admits that the path to Lord’s is a tough ask for a Cheam side in transition, having been relegated from The Premier Division of the Surrey Championship and with Durham graduate Simon Hawke on board as captain for the first time this year. Cheam feature highly as Surrey’s top side, currently joint 23rd, in the first National Club Championship Rankings by performance in the competition since 1990. Rankings Cockspur are also sponsoring the National Club Championship Rankings, currently led by 2002 champions Saffron Walden, as well as making a special ” Cockspur Moment of the Round” award for the top club/individual performance. The Captain Speaks Speaking at a rain soaked Peaches Close ground yesterday Martin said, ” We are proud of our record in the National Knockout and in fact reached the Regional Final only 2 years ago going down to eventual Champions Saffron Walden that year. With the likes of Walden, Stanmore, Bromley and Eastbourne in our group we are assured of a stern examination in 2004.” Prize Money The winners of The Cockspur Cup as well as receiving a winners cheque for 6,000 pounds will also win a team trip to the Annual Barbados Pro Am Festival being organized by the Professional Cricketers Association travel partner Rumsey Travel in November. The winners will not only take away the £ 6,000 first prize, but also, courtesy of Cockspur Rum, will be invited to play in the ” Annual Barbados Pro Am Festival” in November. Frank Kemp Comments Frank Kemp, the ECB’s Cricket Operations Manager (recreational), said, ” I am delighted to welcome back Cockspur as sponsor of the ECB National Club Championship. With the added incentive of a trip to Barbados and a prize money pool of £ 23,000 available there will be plenty of competitive cricket played by the top clubs across the country. Clubs reaching the last 32 (the Group Finals) qualify for prize money, and in addition there will be opportunities for clubs to win Cockspur prizes for outstanding performances in each round of matches. ” Full details of all the matches will be published on ‘Play-Cricket.com’, the ECB’s website for recreational cricket – and all clubs, including those who have not entered the Cockspur Cup, will be able to order Cockspur products through the site.” Sandiacre Team To Beat Current champions are Derbyshire’s Sandiacre Town Cricket Club who, in their first ever final, defeated Bath Cricket Club by a nail-biting one run at Lord’s last September.