FORMER Accrington skipper Steve Juliff went to watch his former club in action - but ended up playing a vital part in their win over rivals Rishton.
Wicketkeeper Adam Barnes was struck in the face from the fast bowling of team-mate Jimmy Hayhurst and had to sit out the rest of the game with a black eye and Accrington needed to call on a sub.
Luckily Juliff, who has retired from cricket and had paid his £3 entry fee, was on hand but first he had to rush home for his whites while his brother-in-law came temporarily onto the field as a sub fielder.
And, once he was back into the swing of things, Juliff took the crucial catch of Rishton sub pro Ian Austin - standing in for New Zealand Test bowler James Franklin - after the former Lancashire batsman had threatened to chalk up a big score as they chased 230-8.
But, in an incident packed game, the man who really sealed Accrington's win was New Zealand pro Tama Canning.
He made an unbeaten 122 - his best in the Lancashire League - and then followed it up with four wickets and two catches - and did it with a suspected broken toe after injurying himself sub-proing for Little Lever the day before.
"It was a good day - you dream of days like this in cricket and it doesn't happen often so you have got to enjoy it," said Canning, who is the top run scorer in the Lancashire League with more than 600 runs.
And this could lead to him following Franklin into the New Zealand team - as with injuries he could get a possible call-up to the one-day squad, where he has played before.
"You never know but I have just got to continue getting the runs and getting the wickets and hope they notice me," said the Auckland all-rounder.
He certainly did well at Blackburn Road on Sunday although it did get nervy towards the end as, at 90-8 and 26 overs gone, Accrington seemed to be cruising.
But the Thorneyholme Road outfit then used different bowlers and an entertaining ninth wicket partnership between Matt Leathert and skipper Scott Greaves meant they added a staggering 103 to Rishton's score - to come closer than anyone could have expected earlier on.
"We gave a few guys a chance at bowling, we decided to have a bit of fun but we never felt threatened. We knew we could step it up," added Canning.
However Leathert - with his first ever 50 off 53 balls with nine fours and one six - and Greaves - with 50 off 27 balls with two sixes and seven boundaries - certainly led to some nervous looks at the scoreboard from a few of the Accrington fielders.
In truth, though, Accrington should have settled it long before. Their innings was dominated by Canning - with 13 boundaries and four sixes in his 99 ball knock with two of the big hits ending up outside the ground.
Skipper Matt Wilson chipped in with 36 while Jon Davies had Rishton's best figures of 3-69.
It all went wrong for Rishton immediately when opener Mark Leathert was disastrously run out with the first Canning ball and Darren Eccles soon followed as Rishton were 12-2.
"That was the last thing we needed," admitted skipper Greaves.
Third man Austin did hit a four off the first ball he faced and he did look dangerous but those around him were quickly falling as they struggled to 58-6.
However then it was time for Juliff's heroics after a delay for treatment to Barnes and after "Oscar" had made a quick-fire 44 off 42 balls with seven boundaries.
There were lots of appeals as Rishton teetered to 90-8 but then enter Matt Leathert and Greaves who stroked the ball around with ease against the new Accrington bowlers - and even hit Canning for 16 in one over as they gave Rishton a fighting chance.
Jimmy Hayhurst finally separated the duo - getting them both out in quick succession but they had taken the score along to 198 to give Rishton some respectability.
"We showed we had fight which I think we will have to show a lot this season," admitted Greaves. "Both me and Matt came off pretty happy though. We were disappointed with the result but Tama was good to watch."
Accrington will be demanding more of the same from Canning when they face Central Lancashire League side Littleborough in the quarter-finals of the Inter League Trophy tomorrow - they are one of just three Lancashire League teams left in the competition.
They then travel to Nelson on Sunday in the league. Rishton welcome one time title challengers Lowerhouse to Blackburn Road on Sunday.