NE Premier League: Luckless Blaydon relegated on rain-ruined final day

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With not a single ball bowled in any Premier Division match on Saturday, the season ended with a soggy whimper.

For hapless Blaydon, the gloom of a rain-lashed day seemed all the more intense as their final faint hopes of salvation disappeared down the plug hole.

Blaydon have been an ever present in the top flight since the Premier League’s formation in the late 1990s, and have an excellent record having only finished below the top half dozen teams on two occasions in that time.

But, after an unbeaten five-game start to their campaign which saw them sitting second in the table, a disastrous run of 16 matches, in which just one victory was achieved, has seen them drop like a stone.

Geoff Stewart summed things up for the relegated side, saying: “It’s been a really tough season – our bowling performances stand up against the best, but our batting has been disappointing and, of course, we’ve suffered with a lot of unavailability with injuries, but despite that we’d have hoped to have done better than we have.”

For Gateshead Fell, the second half of the summer provided another wonderful example of their never-say-die spirit.

They could well have thrown in the towel after a winless 10-game start to the season but, as in 2014, they provided another magic act with escapology as the scene-stealing show-stopper, their rise from the ashes completed by four wins in the five games prior to Saturday’s washout.

Meanwhile, the other decision taken out of club’s hands by the weather saw Chester-le-Street hold on to the runners-up spot, albeit some 58 points adrift of champions South North.

Club spokesman Tony Birbeck was pleased that his side retained that position. “Overall, it’s been a great team effort to finish second,, win the NEPL T20, and compete in the semi-final of the ECB 45-over and the quarter-final of the 20-over national competitions,” he said.

“We will try and build on our success this year with the basis of our squad, with hopefully some new additions to ensure competition for places next season.”