Fife minnows create history by winning National Village Championship
The Fife village of Freuchie made Scottish – and English – sporting history by becoming the first side from north of the Border to win the national village cricket championship at Lord’s yesterday.
Freuchie did Scotland proud in the final of the National Village Championship organised by the Cricketer International magazine. In the 14 years of the competition, there has never been a final producing such excitement and entertainment.
Freuchie beat Rowledge by losing fewer wickets in a tense climax to an absolutely spellbinding game. The crowd in attendance was, according to frequent visitors to Lord’s, greater than at many first class county matches.
Following the procession of the kilted team and supporters, headed by a piper, from their hotel to the gates at Lord’s and the customary net practice, the two captains inspected the wicket and tossed.
Alan Prior won the toss but, because of light rain, delayed his decision until shortly before the scheduled start. An improvement in the conditions saw Rowledge elect to bat. In the fifth over, with the total at 15, a brilliant catch by Andy Crichton off the bowling of David Cowan provided Freuchie with their initial success.
Neil Dunbar and Tony Hook battled steadily but the superb fielding of the Fifers, in which Stewart Irvine was outstsanding, kept the score in check. After hitting five boundaries, Hook was finally beaten by Niven McNaughton.
The second wicket partnership had realised 41 runs, the best stand of the day.
Due to the vigilance of the Freuchie fielders, runs were difficult to come by and apart from the occasional wide, the “mean machine” of Cowan, McNaughton, Tony Trewartha, David and Brian Christie, lived up to their reputations by giving absolutely nothing away. A couple of magnificent run-outs featuring Andy Crichton almost demoralised the Surrey villagers.
One of the victims was Neil Dunbar, top scorer with 33, who was fifth out at 94.
Shrewd manipulation of his bowlers by David Christie kept Rowledge in almost suspended animation and with Trewartha, a Cornishman by birth, wrapping up the tail, the Surrey side were dismissed in 39.3 overs.
Although Freuchie made a nervous start, the vocal encouragement supplied by the huge support from Scotland brought about a magnificent rally. With 15 overs of the match remaining, and six wickets down, the Fifers looked in trouble.
However, an exciting climax featuring George Crichton and David Christie took Freuchie from 101-7 to 133 before the Scottish captain was run out off the last ball of the penultimate over.
A single by Crichton from the first ball of the last over levelled the scores and brought Brian Christie to face the bowling of Prior. Christie stepped across the crease and the ball ricocheted off his pads and ran down to long-on. Immediately the mass of tartan-clad supporters swarmed on the field, but as the batsman had not attempted a stroke, no run was given and the players returned to the fray and the spectators back over the fence.
Surrounded by the opposition, the Freuchie captain’s son successfully blocked the remaining deliveries to achieve a remarkable win. It was a magnificent game of cricket and, in Scotland’s bi-centenary year, a fitting tribute to Freuchie and Scotland.