A VILLAGE team with predecessors who played their first match more than 100 years ago have pledged to continue after changing their mind about folding.

Hartford travelled to Malpas for a fixture last September with only 10 men, and after conceding half-a-dozen of their previous Cheshire League matches because they didn't have enough players, believing it would be their last.

READ > Why Hartford Cricket Club are not alone with challenges faced

However they will make a short journey around the corner to play against Winnington Park's seconds when a new season starts on Saturday.

"We're not sure we'll have 11 guys," said captain Matt Stokes this week.

"But we'll be there."

He is one of a small group of players, along with Martin Pickup, Geoff Sharp and Rob Whittle, that have formed the core of a dwindling group over the past few years.

Last summer they were joined regularly by a group of keen cricketers who live outside of the area but who had a job with an employer in Northwich.

They have recruited a couple of others, a nephew of Pickup and one of Stokes' work colleagues, but need more.

Stokes said: "We talked about it, and decided to have one more go.

"At least then if we're in the same position at the end of this summer we can say we've done everything we could to try and save the club as we know it.

"Let's see what happens."

Stokes, who has played cricket at Grange Park since 1990, told the Guardian they had considered resigning from the league partway through last term but didn't want to let down their opponents and carried on

They won only two games.

Like Pickup, a member for more than 40 years, he is unlikely to carry on playing should Hartford not survive.

"I had messages from other clubs when it looked like we might finish," he revealed.

"But I can't imagine playing anywhere else and the thought doesn't particularly have any appeal."

They have not been idle.

A number of initiatives, including leaflet drops and campaigns on social media, have raised awareness of their plight.

Meanwhile their landlords, Hartford Parish Council, have supported a proposal to put a sign outside the entrance to the club's ground at the heart of the village.

They have a new groundsman, an expert who prepares pitches at King's School Macclesfield, but he plays already for a team close to home.

Pickup said: "It's frustrating because we're in a strong position financially.

"There is a solid foundation on which to build something."