Haverhill’s top flight survival is down to a real ‘team effort’, says skipper

Haverhill's 
Chris Palmer batting against Hadleigh. 
Picture Mark Westley ANL-160717-223955009
Haverhill's Chris Palmer batting against Hadleigh. Picture Mark Westley ANL-160717-223955009

Skipper Adam Dellar believes his young Haverhill team has overcome considerable odds to retain it’s top flight status.

With only Saturday’s home match to come this season against newly-crowned champions Mildenhall, Haverhill know they will again be competing in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One next season after last Saturday’s results guaranteed they will avoid the bottom two.

In a further boost for the club, its second XI has also stayed up in Division Three after their first campaign at that level.

They complete their season at Little Bardfield Village on Saturday.

At the start of the season, many expected Haverhill to struggle and be a leading contender for the drop having been promoted from Division Two as the third placed side behind Braintree and Copford.

Instead, they have accrued more points (234) and wins (seven) than in all but one of the four seasons in which they had previously competed in the top division - only the 2013 season was better when they won eight matches and earned 244 points - and they still have one match to play.

“I feel like we’ve done well this year and there are some good teams in our league,” said Dellar.

“We are the only ones without a professional and we have local lads playing every week that are from Haverhill and that’s good and a credit to us really.”

Dellar believes the team has the youngest average age of all 12 in Division One.

In the absence of James Smith - the only player aged over 30 - Dellar said he has frequently been the second oldest player in the XI at just 26, just one year younger than the most senior player, Chris Palmer.

The youngest players, Will Bailey and Josh Ruthven, are both still just 18.

Haverhill have done the double this season over Hadleigh and Halstead, both below them in the table, and won key matches away at relegated Copford and regular top six sides Coggeshall and Mistley.

It has been the team effort though, that has most pleased Dellar, including the contribution of Palmer.

The former Barbraham player, who joined Haverhill this season, has not only scored 708 runs from 18 innings at an average of 47.20, placing him seventh in the division’s list of top run makers, with four of those above him overseas batsmen, but also taken 20 wickets.

Dellar said: “Chris has been massive for us and has been the stand out player for us, there’s no doubt about it.

“What’s been different this year is that Chris has scored about 700 runs and there’s been both me and Ant (Phillips) who have scored about 550 runs and I think two more have scored 350 runs.

“That’s the first year we’ve been able to have that. We normally get a player who gets 750-1,000 runs and the next highest is way down at 400 so it’s been more of a team effort rather than one person who has done the most each week .

“We are probably the poorest team as well in the league in terms of having money available to use on players, such as paying travel expenses or incentives, we just don’t really have that it that makes it difficult and challenging for us, but you’ve just got to get on with it.

“We win games and we are just shattered both mentally and physically but that’s what it takes to win games for us.

“We’ve got Mildenhall on Saturday (12.30pm) so hopefully we can finish on a high and do well with both bat and ball.”