Durham Cricket League champions Esh Winning have not met the criteria for promotion to the NEPL First Division, writes Chris West.
That means a play-off match will take place on Saturday at South Hetton (12.30pm) between the host club, who finished bottom, and the DCL runners-up, Mainsforth.
The white smoke billowed from a chimney in Chester-le-Street late last night – well, it wasn’t quite like that, but it almost felt like it as the three clubs who had been on tenterhooks for the last few weeks were finally put out of their misery.
The NEPL released a press statement early this morning.
“Following discussions with the club and a ground inspection, the League Management Committee has decided that Esh Winning Cricket Club, the winner of the Durham Cricket League, does not currently meet the League and Ground Criteria for entry into the North East Premier League.
“Esh Winning has confirmed that it will not be able to field a team in the Sunday Second Division in 2016.
“The NEPL Sunday leagues provide important development opportunities for younger cricketers in line with ECB priorities.
“The Committee also considers that it will be virtually impossible for the Club to achieve Clubmark accreditation before the start of the 2016 season.
“In addition the Committee has concerns about the standard of the Club’s changing facilities.
“A play-off will therefore take place between South Hetton and Mainsforth to decide whether South Hetton is relegated from the NEPL First Division or Mainsforth is promoted from the Durham Cricket League.
“The match will take place at South Hetton starting at 12.30 on Saturday 19 September with Sunday as the reserve wet weather day. The match will be 45 overs each innings and played to Banks Salver rules.”
And so the lengthy saga came to an end for Esh Winning, and now it is down to a straight shootout between the two other teams – not quite High Noon, but there will only be one left standing come Saturday night.