Latest News - 25 March 1999

Division 1

The worthy League champions this year are RMCS Shrivenham, an emphatic 21 points clear of Cricklade and with Uptown Boys finishing in third spot, a further 8 points behind. Shrivenham fully deserve the title, with all five of their main players putting in strong performances throughout the season. Matt Marshall has only lost once (to Stuart Langdon) and consequently finished top of the rankings. Paul Bennett and Nigel Rowe also made big contributions, the latter improving tremendously and finishing with an unbeaten 13 match record. The other main players were Simon Miles and Ross Goodman and again, both won far more often than they lost. Cricklade (usually comprising Brian Hanson, Rob McCall, Craig White, Kerry Lewis and Lou Arthur) put up a good fight until the end but could never really pull back the deficit sustained from their two losses against RMCS. Uptown Boys would have finished higher, possibly even top, had it not been for the injury sustained to the unbeaten Jay Vickers just before Christmas. Their top-string partnership of Simon McHale and Jay Vickers make the Uptown Boys a very difficult side to beat. The rest of the Division was a very tight affair with Martin Perry's Chippenham Olympiad I team just edging out Graham Gough's Marlborough side for 4th spot. Marlborough were the only side to beat RMCS all season, though Marshall and Goodman were absent for that match. Village Swindon finished adrift of the pack and paid for their inability to field a consistent team from one week to the next.

Division 2

This title has been won by RMCS Shrivenham Reds, a massive 44 points clear of the runners-up (their Club-mates, the Shrivenham Blues). The Blues clinched their promotion spot courtesy of the Reds' fine final-week victory down at Andover, thus ruining Andover's chances of sneaking into the second promotion spot. Andover will still be offered the promotion spot, however, since RMCS will not wish to field 3 teams in the top Division next season. As with the 1st team, both the Reds and Blues have benefited from strong squad systems involving five or six team regulars (Reds: me, Pete Hall, Damian Townsend, Chris Pill and Tony Doyle - Blues: Jim Shelston, Brian Bell, Mike Hyland, Paul James, Ray Lawton and Rick MacDonald) with good back-up support. Andover have a strong squad on paper (including Alex Antonius, Tom Burnip, Ken Reid and Sean Green) but key player unavailabilities in the last few weeks cost them dear - crashing to three consecutive defeats to Melksham, Trowbridge and the Reds. Chippenham were the next best team in this Division, with Rod Alcorn, Mark Galton and Andy Jennings all having good seasons - they were less successful at 4 and 5, though are one of the few teams to be bringing on a youngster this year (Johnny Boorman). Boscombe would have finished much higher had they been able to field their top side more often - indeed their top two of Ray Burke and Lenny Westover finished top of the rankings. Trowbridge improved considerably since Xmas, due to the folding of their 1st team and the acquisition of Fred Lane, Will Henderson and Mark Ricketts into their squad. Lyneham were outclassed all season, but at least managed to break their duck against the aforementioned Trowbridge. Howie Bonser's Salisbury team join them in the relegation spots.

Division 3

This title was again won by Shrivenham - this time John Emmins' 4th team. As with all the other RMCS teams, their success can be directly attributed to a strong squad system, with five regulars and three strong others willing to be called upon as needed. Olympiad came second, just 7 points ahead of Cricklade 2. Both Village Swindon and Devizes have suffered from conceding walkovers at some stage during the season - otherwise they may have challenged for much higher spots. Similarly, Wessex have rarely put out their top team (James Berry and Chris Poole top this Division's ranking) - if they had then they would also have finished up much higher. Dunbar 1 and Chippenham 3 have finished in the relegation places.

Division 4

Trowbridge won this Division, 8 points clear of a fast-improving Calne WHLC. Wessex have finished third while Croft have had a very good first season in the League, finishing fourth - I hope they've enjoyed it. Christie Miller and Chippenham have finished adrift at the bottom, though both have managed to pick up some good wins over the course of the season.