Party time for 150-up Whitburn

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WHAT a difference a couple of days make!

After losing three of their opening four games, Whitburn were in an unaccustomed bottom-two position in the Warmseal Durham Senior league, but last week’s double header witnessed a surge in their form and two consecutive victories have provided a massive confidence boost.

The timing could not have been better as this is a momentous weekend for the club, who celebrate their 150th anniversary on Monday.

The milestone is to be marked with a four-team T20 event and a carnival atmosphere with the current first team joined by the Saunders Cup-winning team of 1990, captained by club chairman Russell Muse, a team of ex-players led by Chris Ellison, and an all-star XI, including a number of former Durham players, with Ashley Thorpe at the helm.

The action starts at 11am and is expected to go on long into the night with a barbecue, memorabilia stalls and entertainment planned. Spectators are welcome to join in the fun.

But before the fun comes the serious business of building on the newly-found league form.

Kimblesworth are the visitors on Saturday and, by coincidence, their season has followed exactly the same pattern as Whitburn’s, with an indifferent start being followed by two wins in two days.

This almost mirror image has the champions just one point better off than their hosts.

Whitburn’s team news sees Paul Cook returning, and there is a hope that Neil Ayre will have recovered from his elbow injury. He was named in the team last week but wasn’t quite ready, so a late fitness test will determine his involvement.

Unfortunately for the home side, they will be without in-form Ross Carty, who shared in century stands in both games last weekend. Also missing will be Craig Smith so Mark Thursby retains his place after a solid debut display. Kimblesworth miss key player Stephen Meek.

Cock-a-hoop Castle Eden cannot believe how good their new professional, Swaru Purkayastha, looks as skipper John Spellman confirms: “Swaru looks top notch. He’s been impressive with the bat and does all sorts with the ball – drift, turn, control, the lot. It makes it so easy to set a field to him.”

Castle Eden will be unchanged at home to Norton, with Spellman suggesting that Saturday’s starting line-up is their best and that there are likely to be very few changes as the campaign unfolds. Castle Eden are 35 points clear of second-placed Felling, and that lead is set to increase as Felling do not have a game this weekend.

Boldon are just four points above bottom club Durham City ahead of their Green Lane clash, At least skipper Chris Ellison can smile about the current predicament, saying: “We’ve spent the last five days trying to sign Chris Gayle, but, as he’s not coming, we’ve brought Gareth Smith in instead!”

Boldon miss Matthew Sampson-Barnes, who is taking time out from playing cricket.

Alec Linsley and David Lowther return to the Burnmoor team for their home derby against Philadelphia, while unchanged Eppleton entertain Marsden and David Conway is back for South Hetton as they take on same-again Horden.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, host Leadgate in the Hedworth Williamson Cup tonight.