Pat Yates says Downham Town’s Norfolk Alliance Premier Division title success was built on consistency.
Downham clinched their first league crown for three years with an emphatic derby triumph over North Runcton at the weekend.
A delighted Yates – in only his second year as captain – said: “It’s brilliant. In my first year as captain we finished seventh which wasn’t what we’d been used to as a team, so to come back like we have this season to win it is fantastic.
“I’m really proud of all the boys who have played this season, it’s been a real team effort.
“Consistency has been the key, we haven’t set the world alight but we’ve done what we had to in order to win games.
“Everyone has also played their part, I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t put in a match-winning performance at some point during the season, which is really pleasing.”
Despite electing not to compete in the play-off for the East Anglian Premier League, Yates hopes this year’s title can mark the start of another golden era at the Memorial Field.
Downham have now six Premier Division titles in the last ten years and Yates said: “We’ve already made the decision as a club not to play in the play off to the EAPL.
“But in terms of the Norfolk Alliance, I’d love to see us try and win the title again next year and put another run of titles together like we did in the past.
“We’ve got a good mixture of experience and strong young talent.
“We’ve five or six players who were part of the team that won the league four times in a row from 2008-2011 so having that experience has helped massively.
“But you need the youth to come in and freshen things up a bit and this season all of them have proven that they’re more than capable of scoring runs and taking wickets at this level.”
Yates, whose team has never looked back after their crucial home victory over Old Buckenham, admitted that the club’s huge strength in depth has been key.
“We’ve had some stand-out performers, Joss Stuart with nearly 30 wickets and Addam Todd with 500 runs, but we’ve also had eight players take more than 10 wickets in the league this season, and the same number get over 200 runs,” said Yates.
“It’s great to know that if someone has a bad day that someone else will perform and get us over the line.”
The Downham skipper hopes the club’s latest winning chapter will convince some of the elder statesmen to remain part of the team for another campaign.
“This is my fourth title as a player and my first as captain so, for me personally, it has been the one I’ve enjoyed most,” said Yates.
“It has also been nice for a few players, such as Rob King who are coming towards the end of their careers, to get another win.
“Hopefully this will convince them to carry on playing for a few more years.
“If not, this is a great send-off. For a lot of the youngsters, this is their first proper title win, so it’s brilliant for them too.”
l See Friday’s paper for match report.