Last Friday’s Rovers game was a disaster. A bad start, a fight-back, a narrow lead, then failed to kill the game off and conceded late on. I can’t explain it. There was effort, but not well-directed. So now we go through agonies tonight with a difficult game at Salford and hoping that Wakefield will win and save us! It must be in the blood otherwise we just wouldn’t do it! At least we had a pleasant hour or so in the pub after last Friday’s game. 
Kevin Motley being presented by Barnsley skipper Jason Booth 
Ollie Jackson in action at Baxter Field 
On Saturday morning we set off early, stopped in Wickersley for breakfast (The Yard again), and then got to Whitley Hall in time for the presentation to Kevin Motley. Kevin has had health problems over these last few years, and has decided to retire from his scoring duties. Steve Ward rates him as the best scorer he has ever sat with, and his reputation extends well beyond our league. It is a very sad loss for Barnsley, the League, and cricket in general. 
In addition to his scoring duties, Kevin has contributed massively to our successful first four years. The Motley Almanac, our end-of-season statistical review of the season, will continue as a long-term reminder of the contribution of its founder. Kevin has the eye for detail with which I have never been blessed, and over the years I have frequently received his emails correcting my mistakes. 
Kevin says that he is going to have a year off, although he will continue to proof-read the Almanac and the handbook – a huge relief to me! I have told him that I hope that after his break, he will once again be involved in the running of the League, but in the meanwhile, on behalf of everyone connected with it, I thank him for all he has done, and wish him well for the future. The presentation was an excellent gesture by Barnsley, in which Whitley Hall typically played a full part – with special thanks to Andrew Tipple. 
We then watched the first innings of the game, in which James Moorhouse provided the biggest contribution to the Whitley Hall innings of 183, whilst Olly Jackson took 6-29 to come up on the rails and take the League bowling award. Well done Olly, and very well-deserved! 
We then drove over to Town Fields, where I was to present the league championship trophy to Doncaster Town. When we arrived, Hallam had just started their innings and had a target of 206 for victory. Wickersley had already beaten Treeton, so the fight to avoid relegation was a straight fight between Cleethorpes and Hallam – and both needed over 200 for victory. But Hallam were six points ahead at start of play, so as long as Cleethorpes did not win, they were safe. We met Doncaster chairman Bill Zuurbier on arrival at Town Fields, and walked round the ground with him. 
During our perambulations, we met Hallam skipper Nick Dymock who, having already batted, was trying to keep away from news from the Cleethorpes game, and concentrate only on his own team. He admitted to feeling very nervous, so we chatted about general cricketing matters, as well as a few reminisces from me, to occupy his mind. It really demonstrates how much people care about their respective teams, and how much membership of the League means to them. 
As it turned out of course, although Hallam were 35 short of their target, Cleethorpes’ valiant effort at Thornes also fell short, and so we have to say a (hopefully temporary) goodbye to our Lincolnshire friends. I cannot recall talking to anyone about the situation at Cleethorpes who has not said how sorry they would be to see them leave us. But that is the downside of promotion and relegation – the upside being the competitive edge whereby practically every game means something. 
Since Saturday afternoon I have been asked a few times whether Cleethorpes will play in the SYSCL next season. I tell everyone that this has always been their intent, that they would want to fight their way back, and that no-one from the club has ever said anything different to me. But that was before they were relegated – harsh reality can be different, and I think that we now need to allow the club a little time to review and assess the implications of what has happened. 
At the end of the game, I presented the League Championship Trophy to former DTCC skipper Luke Townsend. Luke has captained the side not only for most of this season, but for several seasons before, including leading them out of the SYSCL Championship two years ago. I thought it was a fine gesture by James Ward to ask Luke to receive the trophy. 
So our fourth League season has come to an end. I will not start a detailed review of the season now, that will come later, but suffice to say for now that the strongest message I get as I potter around our grounds is that the cricket is more competitive than ever. I say that our season has ended, but of course both Doncaster Town and Sheffield Collegiate have very important games to come, and more of them later. 
After our usual Sunday with family, I got down to some serious cricket and rugby work on Monday – Kevin Motley having reminded me to go through all the scorecards on Play-Cricket. I tend to do this a couple of times a season, so there were a lot to check, resolve discrepancies, and ‘lock’. On each of the next three days I spent the mornings at the university, with meetings at the Phoenix Sports & Social Club on Wednesday night. 
At 6pm, David Ward, Matt Summerhill and myself met to talk about how the YSAPL and the SYSCL work together. It was a really cordial, positive and constructive meeting, with two or three suggestions made that we shall take forward in the future. It is to everyone’s benefit that the two Leagues work well together and it is right to review, and improve where we can. David is a very dedicated and hard-working CEO of the South Yorkshire league, and faces some very different challenges to me. I do not envy him his job, but it is important to understand it. 
After that, we met with Pontefract & District colleagues. The P&DCL feeds into the South Yorkshire league, but hitherto, no P&DCL team has actually made the move. It is good news, therefore, that this season, South Kirby will become the first P&DCL side to be promoted into the SYSCL first division. We spoke about the difficulty of recruiting and retaining volunteers – a perennial problem for us all; and P&DCL colleagues spoke about the difficulty for some of their clubs of running junior set-ups in such a strong rugby league area. 
Last night we sadly came to the decision to cancel our under-23s fixture at Wickersley on Sunday. A series of drop-outs, all for very understandable reasons, had taken our numbers down to four. I thought it was important to make a decision in good time so that everyone knew where they were, to and to protect Andrew Tipple, who had done his utmost to get a side, from any more hassle. 
This lunchtime I have just been to the funeral of one of my former East Riding umpiring colleagues. Bob Roper was a real character who lived to the ripe old age of 98 – despite being rarely seen without his beloved pipe. There was an old photo of him next to the coffin with aforesaid pipe, and he looked like a 1950s film star – not, as a colleague remarked to me, Eric Morecambe! You always learn more about people at their funerals, which is sad when you think about it, and what I will remember from what I learned about Bob was that he continued to drive until he had a bad fall at 93 – on a driving licence that had expired eight years earlier! 
Tonight I think we will have a news black-out until at least ten o’clock – I shall enjoy a large bottle of Sam Adams and an episode of Foyles War before I look at the rugby scores. 
Tomorrow afternoon we will travel across to Woodlands to give some morale support to Doncaster in the first step of their attempt to emulate Wakefield Thornes by bringing home the White Rose trophy. I wish them all the very best of luck! 
Till next week, 
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