Watty and his team made TSJCC history by securing a second successive league title and promotion in the final year of our stay in the NMCL. As we'll be moving to the new GMCL we won't have the opportunity to compete in divisions 1 and 2 of the NMCL for the first time ever, but the achievement is magnificent. Two years ago the 2nds were a middle to lower table side, the odd good performance mixed with plenty of bad weeks. How much things can change in two years.

Going into this weekend, the title fate was squarely in our hands. Win or lose against Elton on Saturday, victory against closest rivals Swinton Moorside would guarantee the Division 3 trophy and club history. However there were many other permutations, with Swinton still to play a game next weekend, so it was very much a case of 'get the job done'!

Saturday's game with Elton appeared to be off when a torrential two hours of rain hit Bury late Saturday morning. However, the home side were really keen to play (thanks Pete and all), and with great efforts from their players to mop up, and all 22 to remove the covers to let the ground dry, a reduced 20 over a side game was agreed, which would not only be a good warm up for Sunday but also give everyone a chance to enjoy the lovely Elton surface.

Having won the toss, Watty had no problem choosing to bat. Despite a strong contingent of younger players, Elton's bowlers worked hard on the surface, and much credit especially to Eddie Shah's lad whose spinners had everyone tied up. Totts managed to get to 118-3 in their 20, a total reduced both by some persistent fielding and a very damp corner which stopped many shots in their tracks. Doc P carried his bat for 63 not out, despite a few scares later on, while Ry, Mahmood, Watty and George all chipped in. The total looked more than competitive with Totts fielding a strong line up.

Farhan took an early wicket, courtesy of a good slip catch, and then Si Marsh entered the fray, acrobatically dropping a hard return catch before brilliantly running the batsman out while still sprawled on the ground. Si had been selected as wicket keeper, but with several Totts bowlers carrying niggles he was needed to bowl and kept things pretty tight; George filled in behind the stumps and was excellent. After the loss of the first few wickets, the run chase was never really on, but the youngsters impressed us with their willingness to play with a straight bat. Ste Brooks bowled especially well, a foretelling of his efforts to come at Swinton, and there was a good fielding performance from a less than sprightly Totts side!

So 4 points in the bag and so it was off to Swinton, who we were sure would have a strong line up for the title decider. As it turned out, they had some really decent players, and so much credit must go to the Totts line up who performed superbly when the pressure was on. Watty again won the toss on what looked to be a very hard batting track (though of low bounce!) and from that point it was up to the boys to perform. And perform they did ...

Doc and Mahmood opened up and Doc was into his stride from the first over; runs were coming all over the place, and with Mahmood holding his end, Doc got to 50 out of the first 63, in just 13 overs. The home side already looked to be panicking a little, and when Mahmood also started to open up, we were motoring along. However the introduction of spin put a lid on things (at least briefly). Mahmood fell to one shot too many, and then George was becalmed for a good 10 overs. Despite that, we'd reached 99 at the halfway stage. After drinks, it took a couple of overs to get going and then Doc opened up again, hitting several sixes on his way towards three figures. The century was brought up with several pulls through the leg side, and at 150-1 with 12 left we looked set for a big score. Doc then fell playing back to the wrong ball, but Ry Marsh joined George and swung in his usual lusty manner to get the score to 209-2 in the 45 overs - possibly slightly short given the brilliant start we'd had but we'd have taken it at 1.30pm!

At tea talk was mainly focused on the cracking spread that Moorside had put on (thanks), and that pace off the ball seemed to be key. Back on the field, that was definitely justifed, as the openers seemed quite adept at playing the quicker stuff from Farhan. Hayesy, opening the bowling in a surprise move, produced a jaffa to grab the first wicket, but the home side were starting to accelerate, reaching 70-1 in just 17 overs. Game on!

Mahmood came on and appeared very nervy, with balls disappearing to all corners in his first two overs, and a couple of straightforward catches were put down - the older heads calmed things back down and we gradually regained control of the run rate. Mahmood came to the party with an LBW followed by a superb stumping from Jonesy and we were in charge again. Young Brooky then came on and produced a gem of a spell. Despite his nervy fielding, he had no problems with his bowling, finding just the right pace and control on a plum wicket. Another stumping came, and then Doc was brought on to try and exert control at the other end.

120-4 rapidly became 150-7 as Doc nipped a couple of key men out, while Brooky took another to leave us on the verge of the title. Nick Marsh replaced Brooky, and with very few runs coming at one end, Marshy reaped the rewards with the final three wickets inside 3 overs to secure the title - and also the final wickets for any Totts player in the NMCL! Apart from the couple of dropped catches, it was an excellent fielding performance under the pressure of the title push.

Much celebration ensued as Watty led his lads from the field, the first Totts captain to achieve back to back promotions (although it was cheekily suggested that he perfectly suited the non-playing role!). Seriously though, what a fantastic two years for the 2s, and what a fantastic way to finish our stint in the NMCL.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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