Club Captain Chris Davidson talked to the Weston Mercury about the 2014 Somerset Cup win
In 2014, two years after finishing runners-up to Bridgwater in the Somerset Cup, Chris Davidson led Weston back to the final to take on Ilminster at the County Ground in Taunton.
Roared on by a huge group of supporters from the club, Weston won the toss and elected to bat in one of three finals on a busy day.
Sam Trego, John Davidson and Rob Turner all fell early on as Weston saw themselves on 81-3 but John Williams helped settle the nerves as he reached 53 runs from 36 balls.
Shabil Ahmed, Davidson and Andy Fear were all removed by Matt Davies, before Ashley Allen’s 32 from nine balls – including 24 in the last over – saw Weston to 158-7 after 20 overs.
Charl Willoughby got Weston off to the best start in reply by removing Illminster’s Louie Kraucamp with his third ball.
Sam Spurway was next to go for nine before the free-scoring Johnny Warry was removed by Allen for 26.
Davis fell LBW to Trego, before Jon Hurford and Craig Rice went in the space of two overs to Allen and Trego, with his second scalp.
With Illminster needing 21 runs from the final over, Weston held on to win by 17 runs and claim a fourth victory in six finals.
As the club get ready to celebrate their 175th anniversary, captain Davison shares his thoughts from “one of his proudest moments” for the club and how the win over Ilminster helped prepare them for the future.
Q.How great was it to win a trophy after relegation from Premier One?
CD: “It was strange to be honest. I felt we were unlucky to get relegated and was still coming to terms with that.
“We won more games than the team above us and it was one of those years where luck wasn’t on our side. We’d collectively put so much effort in and fell short by 10 runs on the final day.
“It was one of the most committed teams we’ve had and we deserved something out of that season. Once you stepped back a bit, you realised what a great day we had and the memories we made and how important it was to the club.”
Q.How big was that win for the club at the time?
CD: “It was so important to take some positivity into the following season. We’d put a big emphasis on being one club and every team and player sharing each other’s successes so it was nice that a cup final allowed us to take 70-plus people down to watch and share in the experience.
“Some of them were kids at the time now playing in the first team. At Weston it’s not about the captain of the day. All the captains work together, alongside the cricket committee and Jon Mayo.”
Q.What was it like to win silverware with Weston?
CD: “It was a really proud moment for us all. We’d lost in the final two years before, so to put that right, and to be lucky enough to captain the club in a winning final at the County Ground was one of my proudest moments on the pitch.
“There were a few sore heads the next day, none more so than James Press!”
Q.Tell me your thoughts on when Ashley Allen came into bat?
CD: “Ash wasn’t supposed to come out! John Williams and John Davidson got us off to a flier putting on 73 in eight overs but then the middle order stuttered and we fell behind the game.
“Jonny Weber actually suggested the idea of sending in Ash ahead of himself and I thought it was worth a gamble.
“Jonny was the ultimate team player and a dream to captain. Ash won’t mind me saying, he’d have either hit a few boundaries or been out first ball so there was no risk!
“It was unbelievable to watch, he hit the ball miles! The momentum and confidence he gave us went a long way to winning the game. Ash deserved it too, he was always desperate to win games for Weston and had a habit of stepping up when we needed a big performance.”
Q.How did you get to the final?
CD: “We had a tough run and used the whole squad but all of us contributed along the way.
“The game that sticks out in my mind was the semi-final at Keynsham in an evening match.
“We had to defend 90 after a poor batting display and had absolutely no right to win the game, but we put in one of the best bowling and fielding performances I’ve been a part of.
“Andy Fear caught the ninth wicket in the dark and half the team were looking in the wrong direction trying to find the ball! Jonny Weber then got a run out off the last ball to win by a run.”
Q.Where does that win rate among some of your best results in your 175 year history?
CD: “Any cup or league win should rate highly. Although there have been far bigger achievements for the club over the years, in recent history that win was so important because of the transition we were going through and the need to bring some positivity to the club.
“I think it’s been an important part of our journey through transition and looking at the volume of homegrown players throughout the club now, I hope this encouraged them to be part of Weston Cricket Club.”
Q.How has that win in 2014 helped and shaped you as a club?
CD: “I think the biggest thing was it gave the Cricket Committee some encouragement to carry on after a tough spell and maybe doubting our processes.
“We had a clear vision eight, nine years ago of where we wanted the club to get to. Focusing on integrating the youth and senior sections, breaking down barriers between the first XI and the rest of the club and sharing successes across all teams.
“We now have a fifth senior team, more women’s and girls cricket, and more kids than ever playing senior cricket. Everyone supports each other and celebrates success from any team or individual.
“I hope in a some way the cup win ensured we stuck with our plans and trusted in what we wanted to do and the reasons we needed to do it.
“I think during that time, we’ve got a lot more right than we have wrong.”
Q.How will that win help inspire you for the future?
CD: “For those of us that played, particularly given our age now, it makes us want to get to one more final. For club cricketers, a County Ground Final is like our World Cup Final! We don’t get to play in front of big crowds or at professional grounds too often.
“It’s something I remind the guys of at the start of the season and try and encourage the young guys to really take the competition seriously and make those memories.
“I don’t have too many years left in me and I’d love to lead us out at Taunton again. If not, I’ll be sat at the front of the coach with Sam Trego supporting the next generation when their time comes.”
Q.With three of that line-up (yourself, Rob and Shabil) and Sam Trego as coach, how great is it to see four people from that day still involved with the club?
CD: “It’s great. We’d lost so many first XI players in the few years prior who unfortunately either didn’t or couldn’t stay involved with the club.
“Therefore it was imperative that those senior players remaining bought into what the club was trying to do in terms of preparing for the next generation.
“We’ve had some really tough times when you question yourselves and whether you’re doing the right things, but then times like last season’s survival where five or six young cricketers turned the corner and stepped up to the mark reminds you why keep doing it.
“I’m a firm believer that you owe your club far more than it owes you. You have a responsibility to give something back to help the next generation.
“Rob Turner, Andy Fear, Shabil, Sam Trego, John Davidson and Charl Willoughby, in particular, deserve so many thanks, particularly those that played on longer than they wanted to, or took up off-field roles with the club.
“The senior group putting the club first gave us some stability and a better the chance for the young players to learn from them rather than be thrown in the deep end.”
Q.Tell me more about the game, how much did you enjoy playing in it and sum it up for how big the occasion was?
CD: “I loved it. You’ve got to enjoy those big occasions because they don’t come around often.
“It’s a culmination of a squad effort and you get to share it with your mates and families and the many who travelled with us.
“We got off to such a good start that day. John Davidson was our T20 opener and had scored a lot of runs in the previous rounds, and John Williams was just on a different level to the rest of us.
“Those two played perfectly to get us off to a flier. And then there’s obviously Ash Allen’s innings which turned the game. It was great to watch and really got the team going. People forget Ash also got three wickets that day!
“I then remember Charl Willoughby taking their key wicket in the first over, and Jonny Weber’s excellent catch in the deep towards the end. But my favourite memory was the winning moment. I went straight to celebrate in front of our supporters behind me and then got jumped on by Ash Allen, Sam Trego and a few others.
“On a personal level, that was the most special moment. It had been a tough year, I’d taken it personally, and for them to choose that moment to show me some much needed when there were players on the day far more deserving, really boosted my confidence.
“It helped me realise in future years that as long as we were trying our best to do the right things for the club, people would still back you during the tough times.”
Thanks to Josh at the Weston Mercury for the great article.