Calmore Sports First XI are just five points away from creating Southern Premier League history by becoming the first team to clinch two successive league titles in different divisions since the league created the multi-division structure in 2000.
But Mark Lavelle’s side will not take their opponents lightly as Portsmouth are one of just two sides to record victories over us in this momentous season which very few people expected or predicted.
As Calmore’s Twitter account stated every Saturday, the mantra has always been ‘are we safe yet?’.
And now, in what could be described as the biggest match in the club’s history since 1998, when they just missed out on lifting the Southern League title on the final day when Martin Kellaway’s side were defeated by Waterlooville and were pipped to the line by Hungerford, Calmore come into this match with no pressure on them at all – given the fact that no-one expected them to be where they are.
Calmore have a full strength squad to select from – with seamer Paul Proudley returning to the side having missed the win at Rowledge. They have only used 19 players all season and 12 of those have played in 9 or more of the 15 matches played. It should also be mentioned that 7 of the players featured in the first XI 10 years ago when it struggled to compete in Hampshire Division 1.
Skipper Lavelle, who alongside batsman Ben Johns, has not missed a single Southern Premier League match for five years since 2013, is looking forward to the final showdown of an incredible season.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team this year. Our season ambition was to retain our place in the league, so just to achieve that is incredible for us!
“But to be on the brink of winning the title is testament to how we have played as a team this season. We are just a bunch of mates who have enjoyed and laughed our way through the season. To be where we are isn’t down to our ability, it’s down to our team morale. No one is bigger than anyone else, and everyone who has played has stood up at some point during the season.
“If we can create history and get this club back to the Premier Division and Gold status cricket where it belongs, it would be huge.
“Ten years ago, we struggled during our first year in County 1 and seven of the players we have used this year were involved in that side of 2007, so it just shows how far we have come as a club.”
Despite the excitement and the anticipation Saturday is bound to bring, the captain firmly believes that the side will “approach Saturday how we have approached every game this year – enjoying it, having a laugh and hopefully playing some good cricket.
“It would be great to see plenty of faces up there and regardless of the result come 7pm, we will be toasting what has been an incredible season not only for the first XI but for the club as a whole as we continue to drive forwards.”
The fact that Calmore Sports are just five points away from the title has gone against everyone’s prediction, not less the local media who had the ‘More as prime candidates to a swift return to whence they came. And even though they are so close to the title, ahead of the perceived bigger guns of Basingstoke & North Hampshire and Bournemouth, the local media continue to lord the clubs in second and third place.
A healthy crowd is expected at Loperwood Park to see if the club can get over the line and secure back-to-back league titles, having won Division 2 in 2016. Start time is 12.30pm and the bar will be open …. for a night of celebration?!
Only time will tell but what is promised as the celebration of quite an achievement from the team so written off, regardless of the final outcome.