DAMIAN Clarke is hoping he can celebrate his 20th year playing cricket by finally winning some silverware.
The 38-year-old bowler admits, despite all the years of playing, his trophy cabinet is bare although he does remember that he played in an Under 15 final once - but doesn’t recall if his side won or lost and has no medal to show for it!
Since then he hasn’t really come close to picking up a trophy so he can’t quite believe that his Accrington side are now challenging for top honours on two fronts.
They top the Lancashire League and travel to Todmorden for the Worsley Cup final on Sunday hoping for their first winning trophy since 1986 - a staggering achievement for a club who finished bottom last season.
Clarke admits he has been through a lot of dark times at the club - so the good times are most welcome.
"I made my debut in 1988 and then didn’t play for three years as Accrington had a really good team, including David Lloyd," said Clarke as although Accrington were in the cup final in 1989 - when they lost to Enfield - he was watching from the sidelines.
"I had one season at Enfield in my cricket career and have had a few seasons out with injuries but I have never really come close to winning anything.
"In fact, I am beginning to wonder why I bother!
"I look at my son who plays cricket and he has got trophies for Under 11s to Under 15s and I have not got anything!
"It is a long time to be at a club and not win anything but hopefully that will change this season."
Clarke captained the team in 2001 but is not going to challenge David Ormerod for the job of skipper now.
"It would be nice to captain this team as they are a good side and it would be a lot easier now than when I did it but I think David is doing a good enough job.
"It has been a fantastic season, it is a winning team with David, Graham Lloyd and people like that.
"And I think they have brought a winning mentality to the club.
"David was used to winning Lancashire League trophies with Bacup, Graham Lloyd is used to winning things at all levels and Paul Carroll has won Central Lancashire League honours.
"This is rubbing off on the younger players and everyone has improved. I wouldn’t say you feel invincible but you feel like you have a really good chance in everything.
"I had hoped at the start of the season, with the team we had, to finish in the top five but never expected to be at the top of the league at this stage.
"I thought we would do okay in the cup as we do have plenty of bowlers and a different range of bowlers so I can’t say I am surprised we are in the final - but we want to win it now."
And the success has certainly led to more smiles from Clarke.
"It is totally different to other seasons when I have been at the club. The dressing room has always been good but I think I am not as grumpy now.
"I am grumpy when we lose so I am more pleasant this season as we haven’t lost too often!"
And Clarke wants to make sure he isn’t grumpy on Sunday night - but knows Todmorden will be tough.
Accrington have beaten them twice in recent weeks in the league but this will count for nothing come the Sunday showdown.
"They will put their strongest team out - stronger than in the league. Even people with a broken leg will be available for the final!
"It will be a lot tougher but I just hope I can have a bowl, get a few runs and win - then I will be happy especially if I win a trophy at last!"