1st XI Division One Champions 2021
With a six onto the pavilion roof, it was done, and the promotion back to the top flight Hutton had been waiting for since 1997 was confirmed. In truth, victory over Upminster hadn’t been much in doubt for well over an hour, and came by eight wickets with sixteen overs to spare. But after the near miss of three years ago, and a wobble that had seen them lose their previous two matches, turning what could have been a procession into something much more anxious, there was plenty of relief amid the celebrations.
That six is already etched into club lore. It wasn’t just that it secured promotion in the grand manner; it was also the identity of the man who struck it, David Hammond. A former England Under-15 captain, he is a club legend. Hammond had been away from Hutton for a decade before returning last summer. His work as director of cricket at St John’s School in Leatherhead meant he missed the early part of the season, but his role on Saturday was vital as he blasted 65 off 51 balls.
He is 35 now and, as such, stands out in an extremely young team. Of the 11 who played Upminster, 10 were home-produced. There is no professional and, it’s indicative of the ethos that a 15 year old was brought in for his debut on Saturday for a player in his 50s. This is a club committed to development, which explains the unusual management structure, with a manager in Steve Cotton and a coach in Andy Clarke, who played 55 games for Essex, which leaves the captain, Alex Tredgett, able to focus on on-pitch matters. “It’s masterful how he turned the side around,” Cotton said. Bottom of the table at the beginning of June, Hutton won seven of their next nine. Two promotions in five years is clear vindication of the policy.
Saturday’s win followed the general pattern of the season. Tom Debenham struck in his first over and two quick wickets for Joseph Parry left Upminster struggling on 17 for 3 and, although Nehal Butt resisted with 73, the away side were bowled out for 156, Debenham, Parry and Bill Prideaux ending up with three wickets apiece. “We’ve had a great battery of seam bowlers,” said Cotton: Parry took 40 wickets at 13 while Debenham and Prideaux both took more than 20, with the leg-spinner Conor Whetstone also chipping in with 24.
Realistically, promotion into what is effectively a semi-pro league will be tough for a young side, something about which Cotton has no illusions. “We are looking forward to next season, particularly the local derbies against Shenfield and Brentwood. We know it will be hard but we have a clear goal for next season “Stay up”. We are confident we can do this and more, not just survive but thrive.”