At one point or another in the season, all three Woking Saturday league sides had cause to envisage playing at a different level in 1999, with the first and third elevens in the running for promotion and the seconds at some risk of slipping back to the third division for the first time since 1992. In the end, the third eleven avoided promotion almost as comfortably as the second eleven avoided going down. The firsts, however, were forced to give up hope of their first ever promotion only on the penultimate Saturday.

This was a bitter disappointment for Richard Walsh and his team, who had always been strongly in contention after 3 straight wins at the start of the campaign. In the end they had to concede that Dorking had shown more consistency at the death, and Sanderstead too were able to notch a couple of wins and secure second place during a run in that saw Woking forced to settle for three draws and an abandonment over the last four Saturdays.

Woking's first venture into the overseas market was a resounding success as Kiwi Ian Meyer, undaunted by unrelenting rain throughout his first three weeks in the country, quickly emerged as one of the top players in the division. Starting with five for 12 at Albury on the first day, and achieving his first century at Old Paulines a fortnight later, he continued to impose himself on most matches, finishing with 769 runs at an average of all but 70, and 23 wickets. Batting was clearly his strong suit, but his wicket tally would certainly have been higher had not the regular opening attack of James Dodd and Charles Johnson managed between them a little matter of 433 overs and 68 wickets, often leaving the remaining bowlers to pick up no more than the crumbs from the table. Johnson - regularly a leading league wicket taker through the 90s - surpassed any of his previous efforts with 47 wickets in 274 overs of stamina-sapping effort.

It is harsh to speak of weaknesses in a side which achieved so much, but in matches where the three main seamers failed to finish the opposition off, the follow-up bowling was not always able to deliver the coup de grace, although Steve Hankins' flighty spinners did secure 14 wickets in only 45 overs, and Damien Honey's truncated season included a match-winning 5 for 29 off 21 overs against Woodmansterne. Similarly on the batting front Meyer's efforts were well supported by Wayne Hazell (409 runs at 29) and Nick Williamson (284 at 26), but on odd occasions when the side were set a stiff target, the middle and later order sometimes lacked the panache and confidence to deliver what might have been priceless victories. The skipper, however, played a valuable role in seeing things through in difficult situations and secured an average over 30 for his 215 runs batting at or around number six.


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