We did it!!! Calmore Sports Club have created Southern Premier League history by securing an unprecedented back-to-back League Championship double after beating Portsmouth by 7 wickets at a packed and joyous Loperwood Park on Saturday.
The achievement, pipping the much fancied Basingstoke and North Hampshire and Bournemouth to the Division 1 summit, is nothing short of outstanding, given the fact that the mantra of the club throughout the season was “are we safe yet?”.
But Mark Lavelle’s side have set the league alight by trumping all expectation and now face a wait to find out whether the Southern Premier League will allow them to take their place in the Premier Division for 2018. On pure on-field achievement, there is no doubt that they should.
A true team effort – led by Ben Johns claiming the Division 1 leading run-scorer charts with 539 runs and skipper Mark Lavelle trailing a former county professional into second place in the bowling table with his 32 scalps at just 10.03 runs per wicket!
Couple that with the superb all-round achievements over overseas acquisition Jack Rutter, who has done exactly what you require from your import by scoring 351 runs at a more than impressive average of 35.10 and also claim 26 wickets at 16.53 apiece – and also fitting in superbly well off the field as well.
An invigorated James Manning joined midway through the season and proved a great addition with 223 runs and 10 wickets while wicket-keeper Michael Cook more than earned his selection with 223 runs to his name at the top of the order.
But, probably more important than anything else, has been the sheer camaraderie of the team – the ‘play for each other and have a good laugh doing it’ mentality that saw them lose only three games all season – twice to runners-up Basingstoke and away in a nail-biter to Portsmouth.
The debate on whether Calmore Sports should take their place in the top division of local cricket has been raging for some time, and the support for the club on social media since securing the title has been overwhelmingly in favour of us replacing Andover in the Premier Division and regaining their place in the top echelons for the first time since 2004.
Since then, the club has dropped all the way back down to the Hampshire Leagues in 2007 – but seven of the team that played outside of the SPCL have featured in this 2017 triumph. And the club have relied heavily on home-grown talent to build a team around with subtle additions in the likes of Mike West, Paul Proudley, Dominic Ducellier, Steve Wright and Manning.
And not many clubs would feature two players have who have not missed a single league game for their club for the last 5 seasons like Lavelle and Johns have – playing every game since 2013.
Now, it is down to the Southern Premier League and their committee to decide whether the club can take their place in the Premier Division – everyone at Calmore Sports hopes that they come down favourably upon us. And why, because the players deserve their chance to pit themselves amongst the best in the county after securing an historic double.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team this year,” said the captain. “Our season ambition was to retain our place in the league, so just to achieve that is incredible for us.
“And now, having won the league so brilliantly, we deserve that chance as a club to play in the Premier Division and test ourselves against the best around.”
“Ten years ago, we were nowhere. Now, we have beaten some heavily fancied teams to the title and we would love that chance to step up and play. Everyone we have spoken to feels we deserve it.”
You cannot argue with the facts. 12 wins and three defeats and a clear 16 points between us and the runners-up.
Now, we have to wait and hope …….