After 17 victories and one wash-out, Calmore Sports’ incredible run in the Voneus National Village Cup came to an end in the Final of the 2022 competition, being sunk by a youthful Dumbleton side on another special day for the club.

Whilst the occasion was tempered slightly by the impending funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II the next day, both sides put on a show but it was the Gloucestershire side that took home the trophy that had so incredibly adorned the Loperwood Park pavilion for the previous twelve months.

Winning the toss, skipper Mark Lavelle – in his final game as captain – stuck with the modus that had seen his side win seven of their eight games to this point chasing and decided to let Dumbleton have first use of the pitch.

It looked a good decision as the openers Dan Holland and Ross Martin struggled to get the metronomic Steve Wright – back on the scene of one of his greatest days when he returned figures of 8-6-5-2 in the 2021 final – and Lord’s debutant Josh Metcalfe away, reaching just 21-1 in the first 10, Martin the man to be dismissed as he was bowled by Wright for just 10.

This just brought England Under 19 ‘Young Lions’ and Gloucestershire Academy/Second XI player Tommy Boorman to the crease and, although he started slowly, he would soon pick up the pace and show his undoubted talent that has him touted for greater honours – all the while, Ben Fisher, who played one first-class match for Oxford University before that fixture had its first-class status removed, remained in the stands, ineligible to play in this competition.

59 runs came in the next eight and a half overs as, firstly Lavelle and then Ben Perry all suffered at the hands of the county youngster although the latter did entice Holland into one sweep too many and top edged to Max Bailey and he went for 29.

His dismissal brought in captain Rupert Salmon and, alongside Boorman, were brutal on the attack.  The former Shropshire Under-17 man would pummel an unbeaten 73 from 67 balls, hitting six fours and a six into the stands and would remain at the crease through to the end.

Boorman fell for a well made 71 from 72 balls, smashing seven fours and three sixes before the short boundary enticed him once too often and he was well taken by Shawn Johnson on the fence.

The arrivals of Myles Holland – the second of the two sons of former Calmore batter Nick – just continued to up the run rate and, with his captain, would add 89 from 70 balls at the back end.  The Worcestershire Under-18s player would collect 39 from 34 balls before Perry would snare him, superbly caught by James Manning.

A total of 241-4 in 40 overs was the highest that Calmore had conceded in the Village Cup – some 40 runs more than Sparsholt’s 201-7 last year at Loperwood Park but the fielding side would have been bouyed by the fact that Bexley scored 241 the day before in the Royal London National Club Final and only won by one run – so chasing that sort of score down would not have been too daunting a prospect.

Of course, it would have needed a good start.  And that is where the plan fell down.

Opening batter Martin took the new ball alongside Oliver Horne and it would be the former who would rip the top off the Calmore innings, not helped by the man with 768 runs in the competition across the two seasons, being hampered by a hamstring strain that he picked up pushing forward defensively.

After a break to receive some treatment, Johns would edge his next ball to Boorman at second slip, juggling at first but grabbing the second chance and he would limp off for 2.  Lavelle was next to go, receiving a very good ball to beat his defences for 4 and then Calmore were dealt a double blow in the 12th over.

Having held steady for 42 balls and, much to his relief, got off the mark – his fist pump to the throngs of Calmore supporters confirming his pleasure to not repeat the duck from 12 months previously – Will Brewster’s rearguard would be ended when he followed a Martin delivery and got an nick to the keeper Tremain and then Shawn  Johnson, playing his final game for the club before relocating back to East Sussex, was given out leg before first ball.  Replays showed that it was marginal at best, having taken a sizable pace down the pitch but the umpire, who was rather more interested in adhering himself to the crowd, raised his finger, giving Martin superb figures of 8-3-12-4.

When Matt Taylor, who had played nicely for his nine, was squared up by Diamond, it left Calmore tettering at 39-5 in the 13th over and facing an ignominous defence of the title defeat.  However, Max Bailey and Jimmy Manning had other ideas and slowly pulled their side back into the game. Bailey was circumspect, facing 47 balls for his 18 while Manning produced a typical ‘over my dead body’ knock of 41, keeping the scoreboard ticking over and giving Calmore half a chance despite the rate starting to race.  It was later announced that Manning was to retire after this game – so it would prove to be his one last hurrah.

When Bailey went at ‘Nelson’ – 111-6 – Manning found a useful partner in Metcalfe.  The police officer hit three fours which arrested the Dumbleton charge with a brisk 18 but when he and Manning fell within two runs of each other, what embers of hope were extinguished.  The innings did reach the last over – Perry was bowled for 2 earlier and Steve Wright was the final man to go for 6, leaving Calmore some 86 runs short of their target.

There is absolutely no disgrace in the result, Dumbleton were, by far, the better side on the day with skilful batting, quick bowling and athletic fielding as you would expect from a side where the average age would have been in the low 20s.  And there is nothing but pride for this Calmore Sports team, recording their first defeat in two years of playing in this competition on the grandest of cricketing stages.  2021 Champions and 2022 runners-up is a record than any club could be proud of.

And it would be ill of us not to mention another superb Calmore Sports crowd, who backed their side throughout and even when the game was up, were the supporters making the most noise.  Win or lose, the pride in the tree and crossed bats remained strong and, while the final result was disappointing, there was no doubting who was having the most fun!  Young and old, players and supporters, the roar of the Calmorians lifted the roof off the Mound Stand.

So the 2022 season comes to its conclusion.  Mark Lavelle has finished as captain, Shawn Johnson is leaving and Jimmy Manning has announced his retirement.  Is it the end of an era with this Lord’s defeat or the beginning of a new one?  Only time will tell but the huge pride in Calmore Sports and this epic run in the National Village Cup will remain something of legend.

Below is captain Mark Lavelle’s thoughts on the day.