A day of high emotions, unbearable tensions and audible appeals for divine intervention were concluded as Josh Dentith confidently steered the last ball of the 2016 season for four and was engulfed in a pitch invasion from a relieved Ramsbottom hoard.
Ramsbottom started the day with a five-point lead over Burnley and as the day progressed this lead ebbed and flowed as calculators and rule books were poured over as a tight game drew to a tense conclusion.
But thoughts of a last gasp victory were far from the minds of the vast Ramsbottom following and at the interval, after Nelson had been bowled out for 78, the carousing Yellows sang confidently and prepared to celebrate Rammy’s sixth league title.
But things just didn’t go to plan, but then we shouldn’t have expected them too. In a season in which 9 games have been affected by rain (3 more than Burnley) and we’d only lost one game, it beggared belief that Ramsbottom were in pole position on the final day. In a season that was in doubt after the boxing day floods, Ramsbottom suffered setback after setback as we put in a meaty challenge for the title. Rain is fairly synonymous with Lancashire but the amount of games called off whilst local rivals played on just seemed to emphasis the growing number of hurdles that were being placed in the way of Daryn Smit’s side.
As Ramsbottom took the field, bolstered by an impressive 6-10 by Smit, clear skies and sunshine seemed an appropriate back drop to what surely must be a routine victory.
But alas, the saying “best laid schemes of mice and men” came to mind as the Yellows were silenced and a pall dropped over Seedhill as the wheels began to fall off the Rammy response and hearts were definitely in mouths when Daryn was bowled for a duck and the scoreboard screamed out a agonising 10-3. With Tom out for 5 and then Callum for another duck, the fates seemed to be conspiring against Rammy. But as before this season, when the experience players failed to make an impression on the scorecard, there has been a steely resolve in this line-up and characters willing to stand up and be counted. Fraser Kay hit a courageous 17 and Dale once again proved himself to be the go to guy when our backs are against the wall with a dogged 21.
But once these players were out and we were deep into the tail, it fell to an emotional Tom Booth to try and take the team over the finishing line. Booth, ably supported by the old head of Simon Read, batted with a maturity that many haven’t seen from him before. It was quite simply the perfect innings at a most desperate time. But Boothy being Boothy there was the odd blip and one hairline run out call led to the Yellows once again feeling that this could be their day after all. The songs started again, chairs were stood on, and each run was hailed with a full throated passion by the watching fans. But there was to be more drama as Boothy was stumped on 19 with the score on 78, one short of the required target.
As Josh Denty walked to the crease there was confusion in Ramsbottom ranks and heads were scratched as a rumour was circulating that a tie meant that the Championship was won. Whilst some started muted celebrations others worried that a tie might not be enough and a playoff with Burnley would be needed. After waiting for what must have seemed an eternity in the dressing room, Josh was once again in the position to play the hero – this time with the bat – with one run to win from the final 3 balls! The first two were nervy efforts but as the crowd collectively held its breath, crossed its fingers and prayed to whatever Gods they worshipped, Josh managed to get an inside edge and steered the ball to the boundary rope. The silence was disrupted as the Rammy fans bellowed with joy and ran towards the wicket to begin what would be one of the largest and loudest parties in living memory.
As Daryn Smit collected the league trophy the relief on his face was plain to see, as was the sheer satisfaction of leading this team to a precious sixth Lancashire League title.