ASTWOOD BANK vice-captain Andrzej Jagielski believes the future is bright at Sambourne Lane after the Bankers clinched promotion to Birmingham League Division Two.
Bank, captained by Steve Adshead, finished runners-up to Division Three champions Streetly and will be playing at the highest level in their 174-year history in 2018.
Jagielski skippers Bank in the National Village Cup and led the side to within a whisker of a Lord’s appearance this season, losing to North Yorkshire side Sessay who won the prestigious cup for the second successive season.
On the back of such a fruitful 2017, ‘AJ’ is keen for Bank to build on their success and says there is every reason to think this is possible.
“It’s been a brilliant campaign for the club, both on and off the pitch, with the new £300,000 extension to the clubhouse and improved facilities giving the club a great facelift,” said Jagielski.
“The boys have put in a tremendous amount of work from January onwards to make this happen. It’s not just when the season started, we were really at it from the start of the year to give ourselves the best chance.
“It’s been a really tight division as ever. You lose six teams (two promoted and four relegated) from the division every season, so it’s always competitive and it’s important to maintain momentum if you find it.
“Thankfully we got on a roll and, with the National Village Cup run as well, there was a real buzz around the club. We do take a huge amount of pride in our cup runs at this club and of course there was disappointment at missing out on a trip to Lord’s, but we used it to spur us on to success in the league.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Jagielski believes Bank are well placed to be competitive in Division Two with the squad they possess.
“I think we’ll go with the same squad that won us promotion and if we play to our potential we should be more than capable of doing well and pushing for a place in the top half,” added Jagielski.
“There’s only three players above 30 in the XI and we have some exciting talent coming through to add to the young players we already have performing well.
“We’ve got Ryan Blakemore who began as an opening batsman and ended as our leading wicket-taker, Jake Price who has just turned 18 and Joel Haslam who plays beyond the years of a 22-year-old, so it’s really exciting to see these players performing such key roles for the team.
“The team spirit is great and after a decent rest over the winter we’ll be raring to go next year.”
IT HAS also been a campaign to savour for Bank Ladies who won Midlands League Division Two to earn promotion to Division One.
An influential member of the team is Clare Boycott, who hailed the efforts of the side skippered by Amber Capewell.
“We’ve worked really hard for this success and are looking forward to testing ourselves in Division One next season,” said Boycott.
“We played well all season and, with the average age of the side being 21, there’s lots for us to be positive about.”
Boycott and Bank team-mate Jess Humby had further success as they helped the Worcestershire Women side to the National T20 Division Two crown, meaning the Pears will play in Division One in 2018.