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Mark Philip’s sporting highlights of 2014
Saturday 17th January 2015 @ 15:42 by Mark Phillip

Sport is a vital part of society across the borough, and the year of 2014 demonstrated what can be attained through hard work and achievement.

Mark Philip

Mark Philip

Throughout the calendar year, Tameside proved once again that it has become a breeding ground for success, both individually and communally.

There are several instances spread across the year that give credence to this assertion and scanning through the archives prior to Christmas wasn’t an easy task.

However, hours of thorough research, coupled with countless cups of coffee, enabled me to compile a justified top three list.

I imagine that there will be a number of people that dispute my top three, so if you do have any qualms and want to engage in debate then I’d be more than willing to do so. My email address: [email protected], or, if you’re more incline to use social media, then my twitter page can be found at the following: Mark_P_Reporter.

So without due hesitation and in ascending order, I offer you my top three highlights of 2014.

Following a long and arduous season in the Evo-Stik First Division North, John Flanagan’s Curzon Ashton finally clinched promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier in the most dramatic of fashions.

A trip to Harrogate Railway Athletic on Monday 7th April sealed Curzon’s fate, when Niall Cummins injury time winner sent the travelling blue army into raptures.

Under the stewardship of John Flanagan, the team managed to win 31 league games; an outstanding achievement regardless of your managerial credentials.

However, only two months prior to lifting the silverware, the Curzon manager asserted his beliefs following a shock defeat by Ossett Town, with the former Mossley man stating “We have to be realistic” with regards to the clubs promotion chances.

Were the die-hard contingent of Curzon fans in any real danger of seeing their side fall at the last hurdle? From a neutral perspective, no. But when you have a passion and love for the club you follow, even the most rewarding of runs can be cruelly damaged with just the one, solitary loss.

Attaining promotion with five league games remaining is testament to the squad’s desire and belief, and the Nash were designated runners up in my top three list because of this very trait.

Not only has Flanagan continued to recruit talented players, but he has, along with the assistance of Mark Bradshaw, nurtured youngsters who have forged their way into the first team.

This communal aspect shouldn’t go unnoticed, and the hours of work the manager has invested into the club has been rewarded.

If things continue to go to plan this season, then the club, under the tenure of Flanagan, may well be in dreamland by the end of May.

Finishing strong in second position was a very special lady, who has exemplified the very notion of unconditional love.

81 year old Katherine Field, who is a die-hard Mossley supporter, had her efforts rewarded last summer when she was voted the Evo-Stik league number one supporter.

Katherine’s loyalty to the Lilywhites has been invaluable across the years, and her tireless voluntary efforts were finally acknowledged last April when she scooped the prestigious, non-league award.

This example might not be directly linked to sport in the physical sense, but what it does reflect is the contribution fans like Katherine make on a daily basis to lower league clubs across the country.

Without fans like Katherine, clubs like Mossley wouldn’t exist. Plain and simple.

She, along with thousands of others across the land, make sacrifices for the club they love, and their life-long investment is rarely acknowledged, so it was rewarding to see her devotion to the Lilywhite’s reimbursed with a token of gratitude.

As you might have already guessed, the top spot in my final three was decided after serious contemplation, but admittedly, I’ve had to share the prized position between two respected clubs.

Denton St Lawrence and Hyde Cricket Club were the frontrunners in my top three because of the monumental and historic campaigns they embarked on.

The former, a member of the Lancashire County Cricket League, was the first of our two local sides to lift the silverware.

A tense three wicket triumph at the start of September against local rivals Denton west saw the historic club lift the Lancashire County League title to the delight of all its associates.

The team perched on the top of Werneth Low could only look on as their counterparts from across the borough celebrated, but they didn’t have to wait too long before they got their hands on their own piece of silverware.

Following the capture of the CLL title 33 years ago, Hyde’s long road back to success finally came to an end on Saturday 13th September.

A victory against Marple CC at Werneth Low Road came courtesy of Sawas, who scooped Matthew Whittaker over his shoulder for six to start the celebrations.

The Champions more than justified their position in the league, having won 14 of their 22 league games.

So, there you have it. My top three highlights of the year gone by. It was time constraining and difficult, but rewarding nonetheless.

Let’s make 2015 even better!