Hornchurch claim Essex League treble as win over Wanstead seals first title
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 September 2018
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Hornchurch were crowned Shepherd Neame Essex League Premier Division champions after a seven-wicket victory against near rivals Wanstead & Snaresbrook to complete a treble-winning season.
The Harrow Lodge-based outfit broke records this term by sealing their first-ever title to add to the Essex League Cup and T20 titles already in their trophy cabinet.
And long-serving bowler Marc Whitlock was delighted he could share the moment with good friends Chris Sains, Roy Smith and Paul Murray, who he has played with for many years.
“This is my 26th year. ‘Sainsy’ and I have played for the first team since we were 15, just doing one cup let alone three in a season is unbelievable,” he said.
“You could easily retire now as you could never get any better than that and most of them are my mates – Sainsy, Roy, ‘Muzza’ – and to do the treble in a team with seven home-grown players, you can’t ask for anymore than that.”
Whitlock also revealed he will keep going until more of the youngsters at the club rise through the ranks.
“Sainsy and I will keep going until there is someone to take our place and make sure the team carries on,” he added.
The off-spinner then praised captain Billy Gordon for how he has dealt with his first season at the reigns of the club, while also mentioning former captain Roy Smith’s efforts in seasons prior to this term.
“Billy has done superb this year as a young captain. Roy laid the foundations, built the team and a lot of the teams in the Premier Division have a lot of players that get paid, but to have seven of your home-grown and win you can’t get better than that,” he said.
Whitlock also believes the success can be put down to working as a team and being an organised unit throughout the campaign.
“On paper we’re not the best team, but we work together. We’ve got a plan and in the 50/50 games everyone expected Mohammad Irfan our overseas to open, but he doesn’t he comes on as first change,” he siad.
“So if we can nick a few early, which Billy and Mehad (Khan) have, Irfan has been superb in the middle, especially in the away game at Wanstead.
“They were 70-2 and then it was 90-6, he makes such a difference, and he’s been superb for us. Luckily Monty (Panesar) has stepped up to the plate in the last two once Irfan had gone home.
“I know people have a chuckle about his fielding, but when he’s got the ball in his hand there is no one better.
“We’ve been on at him, ‘Irfan has gone home now it’s time to step up’, and he got a five-fer and seven-fer, so you can’t ask for more. But everyone has chipped in, even Jamie (Sorrell) and Michael (Bones) today, grounded it out.”
Captain Gordon went on to praise his side and give special plaudits to former captain Smith for his work over the years to get the club into the Premier Division.
“I’m proud of everyone,” said Gordon. “A lot of credit should go to Roy as he set the platform up, he took Hornchurch up from Division Two, so I just took over a strong unit and it has been brilliant.”
The skipper praised their near rivals Wanstead’s line-up, but feels his side deserved to finish top of the pile as they also have a strong side.
“They’re a class act, obviously they’ve got a lot of top players, and we knew it was going to be tough, but we’re on top of the table for a reason, we’ve got really good players as well,” he said.
He praised former England Test spinner Panesar who picked up seven wickets in the match last weekend, while also praising batsmen Jamie Sorrell (50 not out) and Michael Bones (61) for their displays.
“Monty just showed his class really, he’s still got it,” Gordon said.
“It was great all round all year. Jamie Sorrell batting, he’s been struggling lately, but to do it when it matters by getting a 50 not out and ‘Bonesy’ as well – they were top class.”
Gordon also says his side are not done yet and wants them to win their final match of the season when they make the trip to Billericay this weekend.
“I think we’ve only lost two games this year so we’ve got to go and win the last one, we’ve drawn two and lost two, so we want to try and get the record points for our club now.
“We’ve just got to keep going, although we can go out and enjoy it, all the team deserve that.”