BEAMING Bryan Clarke, the Uddingston captain, could not conceal his delight after his side clinched the Western Premier title with a tense two-wicket win over outgoing champions Dumfries at Bothwell Castle on Saturday.
The Lanarkshire side did just enough to repel Clydesdale’s late charge, edging out the Titwood side on net run-rate when neither points nor percentages could separate the pair.
It was 1934 when Uddingston last won a major league title – the old Western Union – and Clarke was acutely aware of the sense of history.
He said: “This is a really special day for Uddingston Cricket Club and I really believe it means more to a small club like ours than to Clydesdale, who have had lots of success over the years.
“Guys like myself and Ricky [Bawa] came into the side as teenagers in 1995 and I think we only won a single match in our first season.
“We have come a long way since then and it has taken 18 years for Ricky and I to savour this day.”
Clarke acknowledged that his team had stuttered rather than swaggered over the line on a dramatic final day of the season. Chasing 210 for victory after winning the toss and electing to bowl, the Bothwell side were in deep trouble when they slumped to 44-4.
However, Calum MacLeod and Vasu Reddy put on 93 for the fifth wicket to ease the jitters.
While Reddy departed for 28, MacLeod went on to provide the match-winning innings, his wonderfully controlled 90 taking Uddingston within touching distance.
However, when MacLeod was out, having faced 103 balls and stroked 15 boundaries, Uddingston suffered another wobble before Clarke guided the winning runs to the third man boundary.
MacLeod had earlier claimed three wickets after the Dumfries openers had put on 74 runs and Clarke reserved special praise for the Saltires all-rounder.
The captain said: “There’s a danger of taking performances like that for granted from Calum – you come to expect it because he is such a good player. But it has been a team effort all season and we’ve had contributions from everyone over the course of the campaign.”
Uddingston’s win meant Clydesdale’s efforts were in vain, though the southside club fought to the end to win their Glasgow derby with West of Scotland at Titwood.