NE Premier League: New champions Eppleton singing in the rain

Eppleton enjoy their title success at Boldon
Eppleton enjoy their title success at Boldon
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Eppleton were singing in the rain on Saturday when they were crowned champions of the First Division on a rain-lashed final day of the season.

It was a case of water torture for the prospective champions as the realisation grew throughout Saturday morning that the weather would play a dominant part in proceedings, the fear being that it would rob them of their dues if their rivals were able to play and they weren’t.

But that fear then changed to relief as news came through at 3.30pm that Washington’s match at South Hetton had the gone the same was as all the others, with just three overs of play having been possible, and then the collective sigh of relief was followed by a quick adjournment to the Boldon bar for the celebrations to begin.

The game at Boldon suffered a delayed start, but, with every effort made to try and get some play, the match eventually got underway one and a half hours after the scheduled time.

The home team decided to bat after winning the toss and looked to be building a useful platform after advancing to 35 without loss, but then the wickets began to tumble as the Eppleton bowlers got the scent of blood, Paul Davidson bagging four victims and Joe Dodd picking up two.

With Boldon tottering on 63-6 after losing five of those wickets for just 15 runs, the rain then closed in again, the players scurrying from the field after 18.2 overs of play.

The abandonment came shortly afterwards, with Eppleton already knowing they were sure of the silverware.

Secretary John Smithson described the sudden end of their anxieties. “We’d just come off for rain at 3.30 and then the text came through that the Washington game had gone, so we shook hands and called it a draw,” he told the Echo.

“Ironically, 10 minutes later the sun came out and we probably could have played on, but by then we were all too ‘happy’ to care!”

And what now for the promoted club?

“We’ll need to enjoy the moment and then sit down and review things,” added Smithson, “but we will want to keep the basis of this side if possible as they’ve proved they are good enough – just look at the performance in the Salver where we beat some good Premier sides, and by quite big margins – so this lot deserve every chance to play at the higher level.”

The key might lie in the different format that is played at Premier level, with longer games creating problems for some players with work and other commitments.

But that’s for another day – for now Eppleton can rightly bask in the memories and glory of a wonderful season.