South Norfolk Community League is a success story

CHAMPIONS: Topcroft won the SNCL under-nine league.

CHAMPIONS: Topcroft won the SNCL under-nine league. - Credit: Archant

Launching a new U9 section and welcoming a record entry of 49 teams, the South Norfolk Community League was in good health in its eighth season.

Now played across five age groups, the 16-over eight-a-side format again provided many entertaining games and some outstanding performances from young cricketers throughout the summer, a clear indicator there is plenty of depth in the youth game.

The U17 League, won in the two previous seasons by Garboldisham, was tightly contested this year with the 10 teams from two regional groups playing for a place in the super fours. Dereham and Cringleford Lodge from the north along with Diss and Great Ellingham from the south made up the final winners' league and it was new boys Dereham, winning all six of their games, who clinched the title, with Cringleford runners-up. Tom Puckey's 85 for Swaffham against Rocklands was the U17s' best knock while Sonny Richmond of Dereham collected the top bowling award with his 4-6 against Mattishall.

In the new U9 League, it was Topcroft, last year's U11 champions, who again proved themselves strong at this younger age group. Winning all four of their games, they only came close to defeat against a strong Brooke side who restricted them to a 10-run victory. Despite this dominance, it was Hethersett & Tas Valley who bagged the best batting and bowling performances in the very last game of the season; Will Worley's 27no and William Robertson's 4-6 eclipsing previous efforts, both against Great Ellingham. Great Melton, losing only to Brooke by 20 runs, finished second in the table.

Unusually, and unlike previous years, each league was topped by sides who won all of their games and in the U11 competition Great Melton's outstanding squad left the others trailing in their wake, playing for the runner-up spot long before the season reached its conclusion. It was only Mulbarton and Rocklands who provided any semblance of real resistance throughout Melton's campaign.

Rocklands kept pace with the champions throughout the summer with seven straight wins but Melton's superior points score was always going to keep them on track for a third consecutive U11 title. Rocklands were worthy runners-up with Hethersett & Tas Valley third. Elliot Hart of Garboldisham topped the batting with his 65no against Mundford while appropriately, Melton's Sam Johnson took best bowling spot with his 3-0, also against Mundford.

If the gulf between Melton and the others in the U11 competition was marked, then it was absolutely huge at U13 level where they were completely untroubled; their 37-run victory over Hethersett & Tas Valley in the last game the closest they came to defeat. Competition was hot behind them but in the end it was Tas who grabbed second slot from Swaffham by the smallest margin – a 10th of a point.

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Melton fielded an U13 girls team, whose victims included Rocklands, Garboldisham, Old Buckenham and Great Ellingham, earning them a fourth-place finish, underlining the club's consistency and performance at all levels. Best with the bat, 69no, was tied between Melton's Fergus Hughes against Gt Ellingham and by Tas' Tom Worley against Mulbarton while with the ball, Thetford's Emma Allison's 5-8 against Mulbarton was the top performance, one of only two fivefers this summer.

While Melton again secured the U15 trophy, there was stiffer competition from other teams and they had to work harder, particularly to fend off the challenge from Mulbarton. But in the end, as in previous years, their main challenger Mulbarton stumbled before summer's end as a loss by three wickets to Old Buckenham snuffed out their chance of securing their first title. In their game against Melton they ran them close, only losing by 17 runs, but it was not enough as Mulbarton finished runners-up with Old Buckenham third and Gt Ellingham fourth. Tom Osborn's 109no against Garboldisham for Mulbarton was the summer's top performance and solitary century of the season with George Southgate's 5-6 the only other fivefer for Garboldisham against Rocklands.

Congratulations to all players, coaches, managers and parents for again giving up their time to keep the beautiful game alive and well in Norfolk.