By Charles Randall
17 September 2014
Sunbury narrowly failed to repeat their success of 40 years ago when they lost the national club final to Sandiacre Town at Bristol.
Sandiacre, from Derbyshire, squeezed home to win the Royal London Club Championship by two wickets with three balls remaining at Gloucestershire's County Ground. This was the second time they had won the national final, having triumphed in 2003 against Bath. Sunbury's previous final had been their epic win over Tunbridge Wells in 1974, not forgetting their Evening Standard Trophy appearance at the Oval in 2008 when they lost to Ealing.
The Surrey Championship could still take plenty of reflected glory from the 2014 season as Reigate Priory won the Conference Cup in style at first time of asking. Sunbury's progress to the national final was a notable effort and Ashtead, incredibly from the third tier, reached the national T20 final before losing to Chester Boughton Hall.
At Bristol on a cloudy morning Sunbury started well through Justin Granger and John Maunders, with 67 together. Then came a middle order collapse and recovery to a respectable 197 all out. David Nash, with 35, and Rhythm Bedi, hitting 52 off 45 balls, put on 57 in 11 overs to boost the momentum after Oliver Roland-Jones had been brilliantly run out by a direct hit from point by the four-wicket man Marius Conway-Jones.
In reply Sunbury's spinners Matthew Todd, Vishal Manro and the miserly Amar Virdi seemed to have almost won the game after Ollie Swann had played on to Todd for 40 off 39 balls, but Sandiacre's tail hit back, marshalled by the captain Dan Wheeldon to settle an excellent game.
Ashtead's achievement of reaching the T20 final at Northampton might never be emulated by a third-tier club – albeit one promoted to the second tier for 2015.
Their impressive list of victims in the campaign were Oxted & Limpsfield, Banstead, Addiscombe, Reigate Priory, Sunbury and Worcester Park for the Surrey crown, followed by Beckenham, Hastings & St Leonards Priory and Exmouth into the last four at the Northampton county ground.
Tom Deighton's spin-dominated side defeated Peterborough Town by nine runs in the semi-final, with three wickets for John Vaughan-Davies, before coming a cropper against the Cheshire League club Boughton Hall by 98 runs. Ashtead simply had no answer to Lee Dixon, who smashed 84 off 47 balls. It was bad luck on the four finals day clubs that Sky this year decided against a live television broadcast.
This was the third year in a row that a Surrey Championship club had reached theT20 final after Wimbledon's back to back successes.