East Molesey made it a double triumph when they inched past Sandwich Town to win the Club Cricket Conference Cup by just 10 runs in an end of season thriller.
Having already retained the AJ Fordham Surrey Championship Premier Division title, they produced a remarkable comeback at Brentwood’s Old County Ground on Saturday.
After struggling to 193-8 from 45 overs, the Moles saw Sandwich slam their way to 82-2 in the first 10 overs, led by Zack Fagg’s hard-hit 34 from 17 deliveries, and their prospects of victory looked remote.
A second wicket partnership of 100 between Marcus Campopiano and Jake Kings (51) had looked set to give the Surrey side a formidable total until a mix-up had left both batsmen at the same end, Jamie Southgate’s 18 the next highest score. Campopiano went on to make 77 but spinners Matthew Van Poppel (3-33) and Jan Gray (3-39) made scoring increasingly difficult as the innings went on.
That gave skipper Nick Stevens and his men hope but Fagg crashed 34 out of the first 36 before playing round a straight delivery from Toby Porter and off-spinner Kings’ day seemed to be going from bad to worse when his first over cost 20.
Just as in the Molesey innings, thought, Sandwich found batting increasingly difficult against the spinners and as the ball became softer, slow left-armer Tigg – who claimed 2-14 from nine overs and took two vital catches – playing a crucial role while Jamie Southgate took the vital wicket of opener Kai Smith (37).
The Moles had kept faith with the young side who took them through the competition, which included scraping through the semi-final against Bexley when the scores were level after a rain-hit match and they succeeded on the toss of a coin. Successful teams need luck but make much of it for themselves too.
Stevens remained cool throughout the tense latter stages of the final and Kings returned to play a vital role. He saw fellow off-spinner Max Tomlinson end what had seemed a crucial eighth-wicket partnership of 28 by persuading Matthew Frewin (15) to drive a fierce and flat catch to Tigg at deep mid-on. Kings had Sandwich’s last hope, Tom Burnap, LBW for 25 and 16-year-old Harry Porter, given rough treatment earlier, returned to remove Jan Gray and send Moles into partying mood.
Kings was man-of-the-match and Stevens received the Bertie Joel Trophy on behalf of his team, adding another honour to the club’s increasingly impressive collection. For Sandwich it was an agonising weekend – having already finished as runners-up to Bexley in the Kent Premier Division, they also lost to them in the league T20 competition final on Sunday.
For East Molesey, though, it has been a remarkable season and a club who sank towards the lower reaches of the Surrey Championship for a period have staged an astonishing revival, an inspiration to others now suffering depleted fortunes.