THE Cricketers Arms has been named as one of the best four pubs in the country – and is in the running to retain its Pub of the Year crown

Last year the Peter Street pub came away with the prestigious award by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) just five years after owners Andy and Denise Evans transformed a venue which was on the brink of closure and hadn't served cask ale since the 1980s.

The Cricks has 13 hand pumps, more than 110 gins and a selection of real ciders. Winning the coveted Pub of the Year Title would make it the second in CAMRA history to hold the title for two consecutive years.

Owner Andy Evans, 46, said: "It is brilliant to be in the running for this again. Last year we had been working towards it and improving the pub aiming for that title, so to win it was overwhelming.

"But for about six to eight weeks after, I felt like I lost control of the pub a bit because so many people were visiting us from all over the country, who then go into the town as well visiting The Dream and the Transport Museum and the World of Glass etc which meant we took on more staff – which is brilliant for St Helens.

"What we did then was improve the pub even further and we actually think the pub is even better now than it was then, so it's great to be in the running for this title again.

"If we win we will be the second pub ever to hold the title back to back for two years which would be amazing."

The pub, which stock beers from newer regional brewers and local microbreweries, will also be opening their own in the new year – making it a Brewhouse.

Andy added: "We are still working incredibly hard to make the pub even better and are really proud of being part of the cask ale scene and a town which boasts other top pubs. This makes it a real place to come and who will be winning some awards themselves soon I'm sure.

"We would not be where we are without the support of our brilliant staff and regulars and the massive support from the community so we have to thank them, and fingers crossed we'll win this title again and make St Helens proud."

The other finalists are the Volunteer Arms (Staggs) in Musselburgh, the Chequers in Little Gransden and the Wonston Arms in Wonston.

All of the pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix and most importantly – quality of beer.

The National Pub of the Year title for 2018 will be announced in February 2019.

Nick Bosley, CAMRA’s Regional Director for Merseyside and Cheshire said: “To reach the final four pubs in a National competition two years running demonstrates a consistency in quality over a long period of time.

"Andy, Denise and the team at the Cricketers Arms keep making small changes to show whatever is achieved it is still a work in progress.”

National Pub of the Year co-ordinator Andrea Briers, said: “Each of the finalists are different, with both town and village pubs represented, all of which are excellent examples of their style of pub. This stage of the competition is very tough and all four finalists should be proud of their achievement.”

The Cricketers Arms will be presented with their super regional award for reaching the final on Saturday, November 17 at 3pm.