MERSEA Island sealed their first league title since the early 2000s after a solid victory at Brightlingsea.
They still have one game remaining – at Mistley on March 25 – but, with nearest rivals Ipswich going down at Sudbury, cannot now be caught and so will win the Eastern Counties League division two south championship.
With a current haul of 13 wins from 15 games, 64 points and a positive points tally of 357, this is without question a thoroughly deserved reward for coach Andrew Windridge and his players.
They have enjoyed a fabulous season-long effort and done Mersea proud.
The Islanders started the day knowing a bonus-point win would settle the league but decided, nevertheless, to give game time to a wider selection from the squad.
Brightlingsea promptly delivered a nasty shock and, taking advantage of a lethargic Mersea start, ran in two quick tries to put their visitors 10-0 down.
Mersea then steadied the ship and started to get their backs into the game.
Breaking the line ever more frequently, it was no surprise when the Islanders opened their own account and proceeded to turn the scoreboard over through the rest of the half, while their defence contained the spirited Brightlingsea counters.
Mersea were very effective at the breakdown, where Tom Paramour, in particular, put in a standout performance which saw him go on to win the man-of-the-match award.
The two teams changed round at 28-10 but this did not reflect what had actually been a pretty even half in terms of possession and territory - the difference being the incisive running and try execution from the Mersea backs, with Ceiron Williams and Jordan Day gaining serious ground on every carry.
The second half saw the Islanders really impose themselves until the end against a very determined Brightlingsea side, eventually running out 67-17 winners and taking the all-important bonus-point win.
Mersea are now looking to move up into the Essex Canterbury Jack One (B) League, where they will renew their rivalry with the likes of Maldon and Witham.
The club is in good health and coach Windridge continues to build on the squad in terms of numbers, fitness and skills.
A number of new sponsors have added valuable investment and there has also been a rapid rise for the newly-formed juniors' section.
In addition to the Mistley match, Mersea are also looking forward to their club tour of Romania in late-April and the club’s end-of-season awards dinner on June 10.