BURNMOOR put the bogeyman to bed as the haunting Horden hoodoo was banished to the history books and the numbers 2014 were notched on the already heavily-scarred Readers Durham Cricket League championship bedpost of the perennial title winners.
The Moor were much the merrier on Saturday night, and the Ian Linsley wine cellar took another heavy bashing.
The Burnmoor kingpin, who has been the club’s leading light for many a year, will have been happier than anyone to pop the champagne corks for the fourth time in four seasons, and it should now be onwards and upwards once the title winners receive the official nod that they can join the Premier League brood next season.
All that was necessary for the Moor to take the title was a victory, but Horden have proved troublesome in recent years, and already held one league victory over them this season.
However, with the main honour within touching distance, there was no hint of an upset this time around as the home bowlers pinned the visitors down to a total of 142 in 37.4 overs.
Only Stephen Brett, with 32, resisted to any degree as three bowlers bagged three wickets apiece in a fine team display. Stephen Meek (3-26 from seven overs), Craig Robertson (3-24 from 9.4 overs) and the indestructible Ian Conn (12 overs 3-31) formed the terrific trio.
It was now just a matter of knocking off the runs, with a rousing 10-wicket success looking on the cards as Meek hit seven fours on his way to 57, and Paul Craig racking up the same number in his opening 43.
The pair took the score to 107-0 with the rest of their happy team-mates relaxing into that cricketing state of mind which says “we won’t be needed today, the job is done”.
Cue a mini-wobble, with four wickets going down for 12 runs, some hasty strapping on of pads and kit shattering the previously tranquil air of a now mildly-frenetic dressing room.
Whilst seeming much longer, it was only a brief passage of time before order was resumed, the winning runs were struck, and the celebrations began, Burnmoor champions again – and for the eighth time in 16 heady summers.
And the win was needed as Tudhoe did pick up their predicted maximum points haul from their home game against relegated Evenwood, Ian Grainger their all-round inspiration with three wickets and by 66 runs from 43 balls as the runners-up chased down a target of 121 in just 14 overs, and with nine wickets to spare.
The other big question was who would accompany Evenwood through the trapdoor into Division Two, and that was answered when Marsden crashed to a 55-run defeat at the hands of depleted Dawdon.
Their only hope of salvation was through a win, accompanied by defeats for either Hylton or Crook, but, in the event, both of their rivals succeeded to guarantee their own top flight survival.
Dawdon’s Stephen Gale set his team up for success with an opening 66, and with Alan Anderson (43) providing early support, the late intervention of Malcolm Mann, who claimed an impressive five wickets for 15 runs, had little overall effect on the game as Marsden fell well short of Dawdon’s 193-9 as Anthony Watson picked up four wickets.
Hylton captain Alan Mustard has been well to the fore in his team’s late-season revival, and he was prominent again as his side knocked off a target of 149 in double quick time.
Adrian Hedley (four fours and four sixes in 50) and Jason Moses (seven fours and two sixes in 63 not out) looked to be building a big score for Easington, but four wickets from Kit Allan senior, and three each from Mustard and Clint Gilbert, gave Hylton hope, and then Gary Braithwaite (56 not out) and Mustard (35) blasted their side to safety in just 24.1 overs.
Philadelphia (117) slid to a 122-run defeat at Esh Winning (239-8 declared), with little of note to provide any close-season cheer for the Phili.
Castle Eden’s home game against Boldon CA fell victim to bad light with five overs to go, but not before home skipper Keith Bailey provided some warm winter memories for himself with a 45-ball 71 not out.