GREENMOUNT will go into tomorrow's Bolton League season opener at home to Horwich with a new man at the helm after Mark Stewart called time on his captaincy after five successful campaigns.
The experienced bowler will continue to offer his services to the first team, but opening batsman Andy Kerr will take over as captain.
“I just felt it was the right time to take a step back,” said the 46-year-old, who first joined in 1989.
“I have only got another couple of seasons left in me and so I knew I would have to let someone else have a go sooner or later.
“I have been struggling with my back, which probably made up my mind for me in the end.
“But I have played and captained some fantastic players and certainly feel like I am handing over the side in good shape.”
Stewart led the Brandlesholme Road outfit to an unprecedented treble in 2011, which included a first ever Lancashire KO title and first league championship crown since 1988, as well as the Hamer Cup.
It was only the second time the feat had been achieved in Bolton League history, after Walkden set the benchmark.
In total, Stewart took the side to three Hamer Cup finals since taking over the captaincy in 2009, winning it in 2011 and finishing runners-up to Walkden and Egerton in 2010 and 2012.
Despite his decision to step down, club chairman David Willets believes Stewart still has plenty of wickets left in him and could even go on to become the league’s top all-time wicket taker.
“I think he is only about 100 wickets short of the record, so he is very close,” said Willetts.
“If he carries on playing for another two or three years I think he will easily make it.
“Mark is a fierce competitor, so I have no doubt it will be in the back of his mind.
“That will to win is what made him such a good captain.
“We have been blessed with some fantastic cricketers during his tenure – the likes of Andy Kerr, Phil Heaton, Phil Ingram and Ryan Senior are all top quality players – but Mark was able to get the best out of them.
“So Andy has a lot to live up to, but we have made some good additions over the summer and I think we have assembled another very competitive squad.”
Pakistan all-rounder Akbar ur-Rehman joins as club professional after scoring more than 1,500 runs and taking 60-plus wickets to help Spring View to the Bolton Association title in 2012.
Other new signings include former Bradshaw wicketkeeper Chris Evans and Farnworth’s Alex Rodzoch.
Danny Metcalf has left to join Oswaldtwistle and wicketkeeper Richard Hevingham will miss the season due to injury.
Greenmount finished fourth in the table last season, tied on 105 points with Westhoughton and Egerton, in second and third, 18 points behind winners Little Lever.
They face a tough trip to Westhoughton in the first round of the Hamer Cup and will meet either Greenfield or Fulwood & Broughton in the Lancashire KO after being given a bye in the first round.