IT would be fair to say East Lancs Paper Mill have not only been recovering on the field, but off it too.

The Radcliffe club, fresh from a convincing seven-wicket GMCL Division Two A win against Bury seconds on Saturday, have not had the easiest last 12 months.

On the field, they only survived relegation in 2018 on the basis of the league rejigging some other teams.

And, more importantly, off it, they were subject to three break-ins in three weeks around Christmas time – the last of which saw their clubhouse ransacked and significantly damaged by smoke as thieves attempted to start a fire.

Thankfully, things are looking up now.

The clubhouse is in “a reasonable state” again, according to former first-team captain Paul Hewart, while the first team are showing signs of an improvement in league position.

Chasing a 131 target at Bury, they secured the win inside 28 overs.

Left-arm spinner Gavin Greaves initially led the way with 4-19 from eight overs for a side missing regular skipper Adam Sajewicz due to babysitting duties (wicketkeeper Mark Robinson deputised) before professional Mathew Smalley anchored the chase with an unbeaten 58.

It was ELPM’s third win from 12 matches and leaves them with loftier ambitions than just avoiding the relegation places, from which they have an eight-point cushion.

“We lost to Bury seconds in the first game of the season, but this was a good team performance,” said Hewart, who took one wicket.

“Gavin got four wickets, and we chipped in around him. Everyone bowled tidily. It was a similar case with the bat.

"The pro got 50 with a few other contributions.

“We’re on a bit of a run at the moment.

“We won two T20 games last week and haven’t lost in that. One more win this week will qualify us for the quarter-finals.

"We might even get through with a loss.

“I think we’re good enough to finish mid-table in the league, maybe even top half.

“We’re only a small club, and we just want to be competing. Maybe sometimes you can play at too high a level and not compete.”

If Hewart, Sajewicz and co are going to finish mid-table or above, they must improve on being bowled out for less than 100 four times in the first half of 2019, with the former admitting: “I’d say we’re a bowling team, but runs and wins breed confidence.”

It will be interesting to see what the next few years hold for the club, whose current home is at the heart of the old East Lancs Paper Mill site, which has been the subject of approved plans for 400 new houses.

If that goes ahead, they could be moved to the nearby Tower Farm in Radcliffe.

“The ECB and Sport England have been involved, so we’ll see what happens,” added Hewart, who is targeting an improvement in the club’s involvement with juniors.

“We do All Stars for the kids on a Sunday, but we haven’t got a junior set-up.

"The key is to get women and children involved because it brings people to the club.”