BICESTER & North Oxford have completed a journey that once seemed unachievable.

The club’s first XI are back in Division 1 of the Cherwell League, after sealing promotion with a 144-run victory over Sandford St Martin in their final match of the season.

It saw them finish runners-up in the second tier and book their place at the top table for the first time since 2009.

Bicester & North Oxford, who spent five seasons in the Home Counties Premier League in the early 2000s, have had plenty of ups and downs in the last 12 years.

After relegation back to the Cherwell League in 2006 and three failed promotion attempts, a series of departures and retirements saw the club lose almost their entire first XI.

They withdrew from Division 1 and spent the next six seasons in the third and fourth tiers.

But relegation from Division 3 in 2015 signalled a change of approach and 20-year-old Ryan Moore was made captain as Bicester & North Oxford put their faith in youth.

The 1st XI won Division 4 in 2016, the Wilf Bennett T20 Trophy in 2017 and Division 3 in 2018, the latter after introducing the role of club coach.

Meanwhile, their 2nd XI won Division 7 in 2019 and they introduced a 4th XI for 2021 as the whole set-up continued to progress.

The first XI’s promotion showed that more than ever as they finally returned to the top division.