Celebrations begin as Old Boys clinch the title

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Old Southendian v Wickford – Shepherd Neame Essex League Division Two – Garon Park

Wickford 133 (39.5 overs)
Old Southendian & Southchurch 137/3 (29.3 overs)
Wickford won the toss and elected to bat
Old Southendian & Southchurch won by seven wickets

OLD SOUTHENDIAN & SOUTHCHURCH clinched the Shepherd Neame Essex League Division Two title with a seven-wicket success over Wickford at Garon Park.

The Old Boys had been on the cusp of promotion, and indeed, the top spot for several weeks have led the league since the season’s infancy. However, three straight defeats set up a nervy finale, while chief-rivals, Horndon On The Hill lie in wait, in case the Seasiders slipped again.

But this time there were to be no such slip-ups. Ahmed Khawaja once again proved to be the catalyst for their success, taking 5/35 as Wickford were dismissed inside 40 overs for 133.

Jack Cubitt had offered stubborn resistance with the bat, hitting a stylish half-century off 91 balls. But this was to be Old Southendian’s day.

Khawaja proved equally effective at the crease with an unbeaten 57 as the celebrations got underway early with the hosts chasing down their target in the middle of the 30th over.

Elsewhere, worthy adversaries, Horndon, saw off Old Brentwoods by six wickets. But Old Southendian and Southchurch clinched the title by virtue of winning one more match during the season – the two teams locked level on 271 points at the conclusion.

Speaking to Yellow Sport after the match, an ecstatic Andy McGarry said: “We are absolutely delighted, as you can imagine.

“Some people wrote us off at the start of the season but we have remained positive, worked hard and the boys thoroughly deserved to be crowned champions.

The former Essex man continued: “Even when the results went against us recently, the group stuck together. This was a team effort and shows exactly what can be achieved with the right mindset and work ethic.”

Speaking about how the day unfolded, McGarry added: “We were aware of what was going on elsewhere. But we also knew that it was still in our own hands. We needed one more big performance, and that’s what we got.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]