County League: Egerton Park and Barkby United reflect on promotion

Egerton Park's promotion-winning County League First XI. From left, back, Richard Haffenden, Richard Bailey, Stuart Rose, Dave Burdett, Carol Scarborough (scorer),Tom Glover, Zaheer Hussein; front, Kamal Panchal, Joe Barnard, Nick Watchorn, Josh Blunt, Harry Webster. EMN-150916-100938002
Egerton Park's promotion-winning County League First XI. From left, back, Richard Haffenden, Richard Bailey, Stuart Rose, Dave Burdett, Carol Scarborough (scorer),Tom Glover, Zaheer Hussein; front, Kamal Panchal, Joe Barnard, Nick Watchorn, Josh Blunt, Harry Webster. EMN-150916-100938002

Barkby United and Egerton Park held their nerve to clinch County League promotion on a dramatic final day of the 2015 season on Saturday.

United were defeated at Leicester banks in their final game, but secured third spot in Division One when main rivals Enderby were also beaten by runners-up Earl Shilton.

Matt Boyce in action for Barkby EMN-150916-111004002

Matt Boyce in action for Barkby EMN-150916-111004002

It means a return to the Premier Division five seasons after they were relegated from the top flight.

Park, meanwhile, had a winner-takes-all showdown at home to Newbold Verdon with both sides battling for the final promotion spot.

Park went into the game with a slender four-point lead over their rivals and secured promotion back to Division Two at the second attempt with a tense winning draw, Newbold falling just 13 runs short of the win they needed.

Barkby’s late run to promotion was inspired by the capture of retired Leicestershire CCC batsman Matt Boyce, but their success has been largely built on long-term foundations.

Five of the squad which played that sole Premier Division campaign are still at Beeby Road, while three more have come through the club’s junior set-up.

But head coach Tom Flowers knows the club will need some strengthening to bridge the gap to Premier Division standards.

He said: “We are in a better position than we were last time to try and cement ourselves into a solid Premier league side.

“We won’t be there to make up the numbers. We want to be fronting up and challenging against the best in the county.

“It will be crucial to add to the current squad over the winter because Premier success is dependant on a squad effort over a season and strength in depth.

“Hopefully we can recruit the right kind of players to do this while not losing sight of the club ethos that has allowed us to get back here.”

Egerton Park’s promotion capped a wonderful season for the Melton club, adding to the Belvoir League title, the Martin Cowman Cup and a first Salaman Cup in 17 years.

Park’s Sunday side were also promoted to Grantham and Melton Association’s top flight.

Skipper Nick Watchorn said: “It’s been a fantastic day to cap off a fantastic year.

“Each and everyone of the team have played an important innings or spell of bowling throughout the season. It’s been a real team effort.”

“It has to be one of our best season’s ever, we have achieved so much. I can remember going to Grace Road to watch us win the County Cup twice in the early 1990s.

“But the best thing about today’s side is its youthfulness and promise for the future. Most of the team are under 25 and we are keen to improve individually and collectively.”