Whenever I’m asked to write these things, it’s usually with a deep sense of dread as I have to try and dress up “near misses”, “close but not close enough” or “so near, yet so far” stories to make it appear we were a lot closer to the required pace than we actually were.

This season – totally different.

I remember making a passing remark in about March to KC, Scott Parky and Dasher that “I’m going to captain this team into Division 3” – at the time that remark was probably fuelled by either six pints of Carling, or bison vodka. But, the more I thought about it, and the more I looked at the squad available, the more I believed we could do it. There’s no doubt in my mind that this has been my favourite season I’ve played in for 10 years or so, if not my favourite of all time. We’ve been lucky to only lose a few games to mother nature (and lord knows, we tried to drag proceedings at Ashton and Greenfield away) but, after only losing three games to the weather all year – to win 10 games outright from the 15 played is fantastic. I could try and regale individual successes of each game, but, that would take forever and I’ve only got a few paragraphs! So, I’ll go for Captains’ thoughts on each player to have put a shirt on for the 2’s this year. In no particular order ...

Rob Holt –
Berto. A captains’ dream in the field, even better with the ball and when he returns from Japan, he’ll even be batting in single figures (YES YOU WILL). Having someone like Rob in your team means you’re guaranteed 3, 4, 5 or more wickets, for not many runs, for a lot of overs. And he’s fantastic in the covers – such a loud voice for a little fella! Able to read the game well and sets examples for all to follow.

George Green –
Another brilliant season with the bat for Mr Evergreen; no one is quite sure how he manages it despite netting once in a blue moon. Level headed, calm and reliable. Memory of the season will be his match winning innings at Springhead – I think most of us agree that when we won up there, we then started to believe we could go all the way. Scores invaluable runs and a safe pair of hands. “Page 3 of the manual” old boy.

Sail Sukha –
Unlucky to have been pipped to the post of the batting averages this year after one of the Darcy lads hit a monstrous 175* - but Mr Reliable with the ball and much like Rob, has an ability to take wickets at key times. His four-fer against East Lancs was key to us winning the league; sealing a five run victory which kept us three points clear going into the final few games, and his 69* effectively got us into the Hunter Cup final.

Mick Durrans –
Despite another retirement this year, Mick played a key part in all our games with the bat and like George, is a trusted old head who can read the game well. Fearless and sets examples for the younger members of the team, shows his class when he puts the bad ball away. Got key wickets this year including against Milnrow when he got their danger man out after he’d been dropped no less than eight times!

Marcus McCheyne –
Got his face in the team photo at the end of the season and bowled brilliantly against Walshaw. “Send him a piano down, see if he can play that” – brilliant sledging from Macca and hopefully will play a big part in our season in Division 3.

Ryan Stoney –
Our opening bowler who has knocked batsman over for fun when he gets the ball doing bananas. Fantastic in the field and chases everything, and holds them all too. Played a key part in beating East Lancs with his 40 and got us into a winning position against Greenfield at home after launching three sixes on the bounce when we were well off the run rate.

Danny Ashburner –
massive, massive improvements from young Stoney this year as him and Ryan Marsh won us the game at Milnrow which really showed our title credentials. Maturing into an aggressive batsman who can pick his shots well, and as good in the field as his big brother. A big season awaits him next year facing more challenging bowlers at new grounds.

Ryan Marsh –
not only can he knock batsman over with the ball, but this year showed his true potential with the bat. Launching Keith Lees on to the lines more than once, a winning partnership with Danny Ash at Milnrow and rightly rewarded with opening the batting for the first team at the end of the season.

Mark Kobyrn –
Got starts with the bat but didn’t quite manage to push on to recreate his runs from last season – BUT – underlying memory is the absolute snorter held at Greenfield which deserved to be on the winning side – if games were decided by a single contribution, this was the one that deserved it.

Stevie Brooks –
More hair care products that the One Direction make up wagon, Stevie played a key part with bat and ball this year and with a combination of junior and senior cricket has become a key part of our team. If him, Danny and Ryan stick together and keep developing as they do, there’s no doubt they will be the core of the first team in years to come. Fantastic caught and bowled in the cup final (cough cough).

Mickey Jones –
Brilliant behind the stumps and trusted number 1 – with Mick opening it really let the other batsman go after the bowling and there’s no doubt Mickey played a key part in 90% of our big scores – in 45 over games, if your opener carries his bat you can expect 175 as a minimum. And, having wicket taking bowlers means anything more is a bonus as we can set attacking fields (and make up for Jonesy dropping dollies behind the sticks, sorry mate).

Stu Batigan –
Played his customary two games and ended the season with an average of 55. Saved the game against Milnrow with a 49* and didn’t drop any off the skipper this year either.

Mahmood Mamsa –
Mr Adidas who can win us a game with bat or ball, and always has a fantastic range of confectionary in his pocket. Loves being involved at all times and probably the only man to want to do square leg of his own choice! Played a key part in our win away at Springhead and he was sorely missed when he went to India. He’s not allowed to go next year.

Nathan Durrans –
Played most of the season and showed how much his game has come on with some very mature performances – contributed brilliantly in the field and learned a key lesson of “block the last ball of the innings”! His cricket future looks very bright and will no doubt play a big part in his respective junior age group next year.

Nick Fletcher –
Played one game and took 2-1 off 2, which of course stoked huge barracking from Dr Doom off the sidelines. Hopefully have more from Doom Junior next season!

Adrian Campbell –
Mr Bean! Held an absolute snorter at Ashton in the cup which broke a partnership up, in a game where 20 wickets fell for 103 runs. Returning to us from Elton Vale, a key member of the team and has been unlucky this year not to convert more of his starts with the bat into the scores we’ve seen in the past. Big improvements in work in the field and we’re looking forward to big runs off him next year.

Farhan Shaukat –
Almost won us the cup final with a blistering spell including a triple wicket maiden, and an innings isn’t complete without Fazzy launching someone over midwicket for six. Many times. OK, launching all their bowlers over midwicket. Just as able to win a game with ball or bat, and a very safe pair of hands in the field. Finished the season with good bowling and batting figures – great in the middle order.

Stevie Taylor –
Only managed one game for us this year but played a key part in saving the game against Milnrow – and managed to slap one of their opening bowlers around for a few fours in the process. Nice one Stevie!

And I want to make a special mention to the younger juniors who played for us this year – Mitchell Durrans and Josh Kobryn. They’ve gone out to bat to face bowlers with their tails right up, and been fearless. They’ve ran their socks off in the field and stopped countless boundaries, kept two’s as singles and held catches at key times to keep us in winning positions. Playing senior cricket will bring your cricket at your respective age groups on in leaps and bounds, and you’ve all got better as the season has progressed. Next year will be a big season for you all – another year older, a bit bigger and stronger and you’ll be making more match winning contributions.

And, a massive thanks to Kherys for scoring and of course to Morar for making our teas, meaning we could concentrate on winning games of cricket!

So, pair these with the batting and bowling averages and you’ll see that over the course of the season, everyone has effectively won us a game with their contributions. One thing I’ve noticed is that our sense of team spirit is the best, by far, in the league. We’ve never been beaten until that final wicket, or run, has gone and we’ve always had that belief that we will win. Knowing we had to beat Walshaw, and another result needed to go our way, and to play as we did showed our class and that we’ve done it all season. Yes, there were moments when we made it difficult for ourselves but we’ve kept our cool. And, as a captain, I’ve been lucky to have so many potential match winners to turn to. Very proud skipper indeed, well done chaps.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

Beryl Avenue, Tottington, Bury, BL8 3NF
Twitter: @TottyStJohnsCC