By Josh Callinan (Newcastle Herald)
IT wasn't all that long ago Stockton were struggling to stay afloat, making the 2020-21 club championship even more satisfying says stalwart Nick Foster.
The Seagulls have been unveiled as winners of the Robert "Dutchy" Holland trophy after Newcastle District Cricket Association officials conducted a countback this week.
Stockton (797) eventually finished one point clear of defending champions Merewether (796) on the leaderboard, which incorporates first to fourth grades, Dennis Broad Cup as well as the under-21 and under-15 competitions.
Because of the closeness in the totals a manual check occurred with each club unsure who finished on top.
A result for the youngest age group, not confirmed online in MyCricket, was believed to be the difference.
"It's a big deal for us. Two and a half years ago we were literally winding things up. We were at our lowest ebb. We made some tough decisions and we've been able to turn things around. It shows people it can be done," first grade captain Foster said.
Stockton's first XI ran third on the ladder this season and now meet Belmont at Cahill Oval this weekend having secured a spot in the semis courtesy of a last-round victory against Uni, spearheaded by a crucial 79-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Daniel Foster (27 off 175) and Andrew Nicolai (62 not out off 35).
The Seagulls clinched the minor premiership in second grade this summer but placed fifth in both thirds and fourths, narrowly missing the semis.
This marks the fifth time Stockton have collected the club championship following success in 1988-89, 1993-94, 1994-95 and 2003-04.