THE curtain came down on the Northumberland Cricket League on Saturday, as teams played their final league games of the season.
Warkworth were unable to retain the Premier Division title as Bedlington took the honours this time round, but the Castle Field side did muster a third-placed finish.
Alnmouth & Lesbury ended their top-flight campaign in a mid-table position, while Premier Division newboys Tillside avoided relegation, finishing just above the drop zone.
But there were there contrasting fortunes for Stobswood Welfare and Ulgham Village in Division One.
Stobswood managed to survive the drop, finishing a place above the relegation zone, but it was disappointment for Division One newcomers Ulgham, who ended the season at the bottom of the table.
Alnmouth & Lesbury brought their season to a close with a bang, crushing Tillside by nine wickets.
An unbeaten 76 from Ian Pearson helped see Alnmouth over the victory line after his team’s bowlers had earlier gone to work on the Tillside batsmen, restricting them to 135-8.
Ian Clough (4-42) was Alnmouth’s hitman with the ball, although Robin Tudor (2-24) and Nicholas Denton (1-27) also struck, while Liam Hindmarsh was run out.
Opening batsman Gavin Turnbull top-scored with 31 but Matthew Whitty and Alan Hindmarsh offered resistance at the bottom of the order, with both tailenders ending unbeaten, with defiant knocks of 24 and 22 respectively.
But Alnmouth chased down and overhauled Tillside’s total, with the loss of just one wicket.
Pearson and Peter Robinson (14 not out) steered Alnmouth to victory, with the help of Ian Clough, who departed on 32, as the Seasiders won the north Northumberland derby, closing on 139-1.
While it inflicted Tillside to their tenth defeat of the season, they managed to retain their Premier Division status, following promotion to the top flight a year before.
Just like Tillside, there was a final day defeat for Warkworth, who were beaten by high-flyers Blue Flames, who missed out on the title by just one point.
The visitors won by five wickets, inspired by F Ahmed, who took 3-45 with the ball before an unbeaten 53 with the bat.
Batting first, Warkworth closed on 161-8, with Mark Robson leading the way with 31.
Ahmed was the leading wicket-taker for Flames on the day, but he was supported by Majid Ansari (2-23), R Walker (1-29) and Keith Brown (1-41). Warkworth’s Martin Clark was run out.
The Flames top-order batted well, with openers Walker and A Storey scoring 35 and 45 respectively.
Flames did suffer a slight wobble in the middle order, but those earlier knocks from Walker and Storey, as well as Ahmed’s unbeaten half-century, helped Flames to victory, scoring 162-5.
Daniel Younger (3-33) and George Puddephatt (2-40) were the Warkworth wicket-takers.
But despite the win, it wasn’t enough for Flames, who had to settle for a second-placed finish.
Their title hopes were extinguished as Bedlington (263-5) comprehensively beat Corbridge (105 all out) by 158 runs to snatch the championship by a point.
Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Blagdon Park (288-2) beat Bomarsund (164 all out) by 124 runs, with Park’s Russell Hughes ending on 185 not out, and Clara Vale (92-7) beat Berwick (91 all out) by three wickets, while Bates Cottages versus Stocksfield was cancelled.
Clara Vale and Bomarsund were relegated.
Stobswood Welfare suffered an eight-wicket loss in Division One against champions Blyth, but ultimately it did not matter, as they avoided dropping out of the division.
Welfare, who have struggled throughout the season, were all out for 159, with Dale Townsley top-scoring with 34.
Blyth’s David Dent proved to be the star of the show, taking 3-27 before hitting an unbeaten 62, helping Blyth to a winning reply of 161-2.
A Wingfield (2-38) struck for Welfare.
An awful run of form saw Ulgham Village relegated from Division One, having been promoted from Division Two the year before.
Village had not won a game since the beginning of July and consequently slipped down the table, closing the season at the bottom of the pile.
And the final day of the season epitomised their winless streak, as they crashed to a 103-run loss against second-placed Ashington Rugby, who won promotion to the top tier.
Chris Harwood (77) and an unbeaten 50 from Paul Milburn helped Rugby to a total of 168 all out. Dean Hardy (19) was the only other batsman to reach double figures.
Darrell Campbell (5-17) impressed with the ball, with David Moore (2-52) and Mark Skinner (2-38) also getting in on the wicket-taking act, while Scott Maddison was run out.
But the Ulgham batsmen were unable to capitalise on their bowlers’ efforts as Village were dismissed for 65, with opener Colin Tait top-scoring with 22.
David Wanless Snr (3-15) and Trevor Elliott (3-8) grabbed the bulk of the wickets, while Dean Greaves (1-10) and Milburn (1-24) grabbed one victim each. Chase Evans and Alan Hynd were both run out.
The day’s other matches saw Gateshead Ethnic Minorities (128-2) beat relegated Whitley Bay (127 all out) by eight wickets, while Monkseaton (97-5) were five-wicket victors over Kirkley (93 all out).
In Division B2, Ulgham Village seconds lost to league champions Bates Cottages twos.
Village, who finished fourth, were all out for 101, with Guy Scholes top-scoring with 34, while Robert Burns (3-22) was the leading Cottages wicket-taker.
In reply, 33 from Will Gibson and an unbeaten 21 by Ali Bailey helped see Cottages to victory, as they won with 102-4.
Jeff Thomson (2-19), Peter Donkin (1-17) and Jordan Cowe (1-4) were the Ulgham wicket-takers.
Meanwhile, Hebburn twos (107-2) beat Monkseaton thirds (104-9) by eight wickets and Kirkley seconds conceded against New Hartley Village twos.
Stobswood Welfare twos’ match with promoted Civil Service seconds was cancelled.
Welfare finished fifth.