After a 12-year absence, Mildenhall Cricket Club potentially find themselves just one victory away from securing themselves a place in next season’s Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League.
Traditionally, the winners of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One title enter into a play-off with their Norfolk and Cambridgeshire counterparts for the right to play in the region’s top flight.
However, Norfolk champions Brooke have officially declined the opportunity to take part in the three-team shoot-out, while Cambridgeshire leaders Foxton have confirmed to The Journal that geographical reasons will lead to them following suit should they get the three points they require to wrap up top spot ahead of Wisbech and Ramsey.
It means that, barring a dramatic set of results across the border over the next two weeks, Mildenhall can seal the title and promotion by beating Hadleigh at home on Saturday afternoon (12pm).
Skipper Ben Shepperson has conceded that while there are bound to be a few butterflies in the stomach come game day, he expects his players to show the sort of form that has seen them suffer just two defeats all season.
“Given the situation and what is now to play for, there is more pressure on the lads. It is not just another game,” he said.
“There will be some nerves because this is about nailing promotion.
“Nerves should not play too much of a part because big players want to play in big games. We have plenty of those. It has been an exciting season with 16 or 17 really good players.
“Now it is just a case of finishing the job.”
For Shepperson, leading a club so close to his heart back into the EAPL after more than a decade away would, by his own admission, be a big honour.
It is a far cry from just four years ago when, slightly disillusioned with life at Wamil Way, Shepperson fulfilled his desire to play EAPL cricket by joining Woolpit.
The move lasted for just one campaign, though, before he returned to renew acquaintances with a much different club.
“I could not see the club moving forward and so I joined Woolpit,” he added.
“But nothing against Woolpit, it just did not feel right there. I wanted to play in the top league for my home club.
“There has been a big change in mentality at Mildenhall. Things had become stagnant with the same side. We were finishing third, fourth and fifth. Everyone wanted to win of course, but it was not a do-or-die attitude like it is now.
“I love playing cricket for Mildenhall. Hopefully we can get the job done this weekend at home because so many people down there deserve it.”
If Mildenhall were to fall short of the 13 points needed against Hadleigh, they will get a second chance during the final round of matches at Haverhill the following weekend.