WALSDEN chairman Jonathan Green admits the 2018 season has been a dream come true after his side secured the Lancashire League title.

The newcomers tasted defeat just once in the league and lifted the championship following a final day win over Rawtenstall.

The second XI also won the junior league capping a memorable year at Scott Street.

“We’ve really enjoyed it. It has been a fantastic season,” said Green.

“Our aspiration was to get into the top 12. We wanted to make sure we made the split and coming into a new league against new sides we were not sure how we were going to get on.

“It was tantalisingly close this year, it went to the last innings of the season and the fact that we won it is an outstanding achievement.

“On the last day we were chasing 180 odd to win the game and at one stage we started to work out the batting points we would need to get over the line.

“It was that close and at no point all season did we think we were going to win the league until we actually did.

“It was very tight at the top. We lost just once and Lowerhouse only lost twice and Ramsbottom three times so there was not much to choose between us and it has been a great season.”

Walsden have now won four league titles in a row in three different competitions and Green added that the club had been given a warm welcome in the Lancashire League.

“We have really enjoyed it,” he added. “Everyone has been so welcoming towards us and we have had a great year on and off the field and are looking forward to next year already!

“We have now won four league titles in a row, from the last year in the Central Lancashire League to two in the Pennine League and now this one.

“There was obviously confidence in the side but I don’t think at any stage there was over-confidence.

“We knew the other teams were of a high quality and there was also the fear that the weather could play a part as well so it was great to win the league.

“We have had to fight right to the end.”

The challenge for the club now is to repeat their heroics next year in what is sure to be a fiercely competitive top tier.

And Green is under no illusions how tough an ask it will be to retain the trophy, even though he expects the bulk of this season’s side to remain in situ with professional Umesh Karunaratne having already agreed a return.

He led the wicket charts this term with 71 while also hitting 624 runs while teammate Josh Gale was the top run scorer with 817. Jake Hooson weighed in with 770 as Walsden quickly took to their new surroundings.

But Green is wary.

He added: “I genuinely believe we will find it harder next season because everyone will have had a chance to see us play and we will be playing the top teams twice, there will be no easy games next season but we are up for it.

“We have re-signed Umesh as professional for next year which will be his sixth season with the club and I would like to think all the squad will stay for next year.

“They are all Walsden lads and from the village. A couple of our players have gone somewhere else for a season or two in the past to try something different but have then come back.

“Most of the lads, the likes of the Gale brothers and Hooson, are all in their mid 20s.

“It can be easy to pick out batsmen because of the statistics but it really has been a team effort. Umesh has finished as leading wicket taker I think and we have also had Jamie Shackleton opening the bowling and he has had an outstanding season.

“We are looking forward to next year.”

Green was also pleased to see Todmorden secure a top half finish, courtesy of a last day win over Bacup, meaning the pair, separated by just a few miles but having never been in the same league prior to this year, can enjoy two derby days next term.

“We are pleased that Todmorden are in there next season as they are our nearest club and it will be good to have two derbies to look forward to next season,” added Beech whose club could be celebrating a treble this weekend if the third XI beat Ramsbottom.

He added: “Our second team have won the second XI league and our third team have a game this weekend which if they win that then they will win the third XI league so it is a great time to be at Walsden.”

“It has been a great season.”