By Hugh Scorgie

The 2023 GBFL season finished pretty much as expected after the final weekend of play on 30 September and 1 October at Farnham Park, since the major placings had already been decided, with The Mix topping the Women’s Division once again and The Stags at the head of the Men’s Division.

But if it lacked the buzz and excitement of a title race finale or a relegation contest, it was nevertheless the final weekend of a very successful season, in spite of the weather, which washed out one weekend of play and curtailed play on another.  

The good news is that the GBFL has not been this good for many years.  It now has six men’s and six women’s teams, bolstered with incoming foreign players and toughened by forays into Europe by the top two teams in each division.  And beyond the GBFL, for those players with the ability, are solid and well-structured GB programmes.

The general standard of play in the GBFL is steadily improving and the organisation is too.  The umpiring is better, player discipline is better, and people are watching.

Women’s Division

The Women’s Division was once again dominated by The Mix, who also picked up the gold medal at the recent European Women’s Cup, but the Barbarians mounted a determined challenge.

They too fought a tough European campaign at the European Women’s Cup Winners Cup B, though with less success.  That foray was a step up for the team and it will be interesting to see how the Barbarians bring those lessons into domestic play next year.

There was a new team to the league this season, the Heat, and they finished in third place, edging out the former champion Angels, even though the Angels outscored  them.

The fifth place Cardiff Celts and the sixth place Free Agents struggled, but it was encouraging to see them accept pitching help and also to see improvement in the pitchers developing within those two teams. 

Scores and standings

Scores on the final day of play in the Women’s Division were:

Heat 10, Angels 9
The Mix 16, Heat 6
Barbarians 14, Free Agents 2
Cardiff Celts 9, Free Agents 9
The Mix 14, Angels 3
Barbarians 15, Cardiff Celts 2
Barbarians 12, Heat 2
The Mix 14, Cardiff Celts 4
Angels 16, Free Agents 6

The 2023 MVP in the Women’s Division was Anna-Bé Bartels from The Mix.

Final standings in the Women’s Division were:

The Mix 12 1 0 .923 161 37
Barbarians 10 3 0 .833 132 48
Heat 8 5 0 .615 115 98
Angels 6 7 0 .462 126 118
Cardiff Celts 1 11 1 .115 65 203
Free Agents 0 12 1 .000 37 145


Men’s Division 1

Men’s Division 1 was controlled by the Stags: they have serious ambitions in Europe and have recruited well.

The Stags have also brought in good pitching, as have the Meteors, and this has benefited the whole league and added spice to some fine tussles by the Stags with the Meteors and Heat, both teams that don’t go down easily.  All three teams are fiercely competitive and the play has been exciting. 

Scores in Men’s Division 1 games on the final weekend were:

Meteors 10, Heat 2
Heat 14, Stags 13
Stags 8, Meteors 0

Final standings in Men’s Division 1 were:

Stags 7 3 0 .700 65 38
Meteors 4 6 0 .400 45 64
Heat 4 6 0 .400 59 67


Men’s Division 2

Men’s Division 2 was dominated by the Strays, whose experience prevailed over the two development teams, the Hawks and Eagles.

However, there are signs that things are changing, and it was in two games involving these two teams where a glimpse of the future could be seen.  

First, early on Sunday afternoon, the Eagles rallied behind standout pitching from young Jacob Henry, battling the Strays to a 4-4 draw that required a tiebreaker to separate them.  Jacob pitched a full seven-inning game for the first time in his short career and then added the tie-breaker inning.  Though the extra inning yielded a loss, undoubtedly due to fatigue, it was great display from the whole team.

Then, later on Sunday, the Hawks took on the Meteors in one of the inter-division friendlies and while initially overawed and a little sloppy in the field, they rallied and fought back with an impressive batting display to within two runs of the Meteors 11-run total.  The Hawks will rue those early errors, but must be encouraged by the collective pluck that saw them pressing the Division 1 team to the end.

Scores in Men’s Division 2 games on the final weekend were:

Strays 16, Eagles 9
Eagles 11, Hawks 10
Strays 10, Hawks 4

Final standings in Men's Division 2 were:

Strays 10 0 0 1.000 126 34
Eagles 3 7 0 .300 70 126
Hawks 2 8 0 .200 69 105


Scores in inter-divisional play on the final weekend were:

Heat 9, Strays 8
Heat 15, Hawks 0
Meteors 6, Strays 2
Stags 15, Eagles 2
Stags 9, Strays 1
Meteors 11, Hawks 9
Stags 11, Hawks 3
Meteors 15, Eagles 0
Heat 15, Eagles 5

The 2023 MVP in the Men’s Division was Darren Meintjes from the Heat.