Brian Dick finds shining success stories in the hard slog of club rugby...

Bromsgrove director of rugby, Dean Ball, has expressed pride in his team's achievement of becoming the only newly promoted side to remain in Midlands One.

The Boars went into the region's top division after winning Midlands Two West at the end of last season and were joined by Mansfield, winners of the East section, and West runners-up Derby.

But both teams finished in the bottom three this year leaving Bromsgrove as the only survivors despite having one of the youngest sides in the league.

"Given our intention at the start of the season was to stay in the division I am full of pride," said Ball who was captain of the first team when they were relegated in 2002-03.

"I keep reminding the boys that this is the highest league position the club has ever attained and that by that definition they must be the most successful team the club has ever produced.

"But what has been frustrating is that we have lost games in the last couple of minutes on a few occasions.

"You would hope that we would be learning from that, we are going to have to next season."

Ball, who played at Moseley for six years, has set his team the task of reaching the mid-20s in terms of points next year and consolidating themselves as a fixture in Midlands One.

The way Walsall lost the last match of their season against Ball's men summed up a frustrating campaign according to their director of rugby, Arnie Evans.

The visitors were leading their Finstall Park hosts 24-10 with just ten minutes remaining only to concede 17 points and end up losing their fourth consecutive league match.

For Evans the season has come to a disappointing end and despite making a good start and looking an outside bet for a top two finish, they slumped and now languish just two places and two wins above the relegation zone.

"In late November we were challenging for a play-off spot but we really came off the rails as our backs got injury after injury," Evans said.

The club's jinx has forced them to use nearly 50 players this year and has already cast a doubt over the start of next season.

"It's incredible, even our place-kicker, Tom Archer, suffered a knee injury in training last week and now he's touch and go for the summer.

"We never started the season with our best team. At our closest we came within two players of a full first XV.

"If you look at the number players we have had to use, 46, and compare it to the champions, Leicester Lions, they have only used about 25 players - and that has to tell a story."

This season, despite their fitness problems, Walsall's backs have been in scintillating form and Evans believes they are a match for any in the division.

The problem has come up front and their forwards have not been able to give their three-quarters the position and possession required to win more games.

But he has already begun his recruitment for next season, having added a backrow forward and half-back from the second division in Ireland.

He thinks they'll need them. "This league is going to be the toughest ever next season with Dudley Kingswinford and Rugby Lions coming down. We are good enough to survive but we need to strengthen in two or three key areas ."

Broadstreet chairman, Gary Watts, was even less happy. His side were relegated for the second time in three years and admitted that it had been a difficult season.

The Coventry-based side lost six senior first-team players in the summer and struggled to cope with two props aged 20, a lock aged 18 and a back cordon whose oldest player was 26.

"This club deserves to be in Midlands One so we will be going to all out to find our way back," said Watts.

Further down the pyramid Camp Hill took the Midlands Three West (North) title with a final day 57-0 win over Telford. Head coach, Kevin Venus, guided the club to promotion in his first year at the helm.

The former Nuneaton coach quickly started making changes.

"We have had more of a professional attitude this season," Venus said. "We have worked hard on our fitness and the structure of our game."

Venus's work on defence has certainly paid off. Camps boast the best defensive record in the region.