Family affair for Blackheath
Victorious father and son combo James and Richard Fleming were all smiles as they contemplated the tag of national champions.
The pair, who are coach and captain respectively of Blackheath, masterminded and executed the perfect plan to beat a game Wolverhampton by 17 runs in the final of the Nationwide U15 National Club Championship.
Having posted 124 for eight, Blackheath dismissed their opponents to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
“It’s been a great day,” said Fleming senior. “It’s awesome. To get to the final and win it is something I will remember for the rest of my life. I think everyone is a little overawed by it.
“It’s been a tremendous journey, a tremendous climax for us and a wonderful moment for the boys – a once in a lifetime thing.
“A couple of weeks ago my son and I looked at the ECB website and saw the story about Tunbridge Wells winning this competition last year. We looked at each other and said ‘are we really going to get there and do what they did?’ It’s amazing.”
Winning a competition for the first time is notable enough, but to do it at the first time of asking as Blackheath did is nothing short of remarkable.
“I said to our colts chairman in November or December ‘let’s get in this competition as I think we can go all the way’,” said Fleming, whose hunch proved correct.
“We came to the final with a bit of confidence but not arrogance or complacency. We wanted to see how we would do against the top opposition in the country.
“I feel very proud of them. They controlled both games, went out there and seized the initiative and got their punches in first. Having Wolverhampton two for three, we were pinching ourselves.
Blackheath had to fend off stiff opposition in their journey to become champions. A staggering 1,750 clubs set off at the start of the season with dreams of glory, but only one side would emerge victorious.
“Tribute to the hard work of the boys. I have very special bunch of kids. Most of them have been together since ten or 11 and most of them are now performing in adult cricket.
"We feel excited about the future of our club. It’s been a great year for our club’s colts section.”
Fleming junior shared his father’s confidence at the outset of the competition but admitted their achievement had not sunk in quite yet.
“We thought we were the best side in the country and we have proved it now,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing we have done as a team but hopefully we can go on to bigger and better things when we are seniors.
“I didn’t know what to say at the end of the game. I just shouted as loud as I could. All the boys are elated. It’s a big achievement. Nobody else from our club has done something like this before.”