Tuesday, 31 May 2016


30 MAY 2016 11AM/2PM/5PM

Summer is here and so must be cricket.  Great opening delivery but as anybody who knows the English climate it was a chilly start! Upon arrival in Eckington on this Bank Holiday Monday morning the streets were pretty quiet, with some people clearly just waking.  But just a 1/4 of a mile away from the town centre the hustle and bustle of 20/20 cricket was about to begin.
The blog as ever arrived by public transport and this Sunday service meant a comfortable arrival for a little look around the centre and then spotting a superbly named tanning studio that also offered toning plate machines are you ready for it?  'Tan an Tone io', you couldn't make it up except somebody did.  After an early chuckle the rather sad site of the former Royal Hotel, which was looking anything like, was now unloved and closed.  The walk along Southgate soon found us at the gates to Renishaw Hall which is the home of the Sitwell family the landowners of the area and who are landlords to the Eckington Cricket Club our ultimate destination.
Access to the cricket club is by a separate track which serves the estates farm and is a little walk up a steep incline within 5 minutes we are at the entrance and soon the ground opens up before us with a little right hand turn.
A welcoming sign greets you and immediately to the right is the snug scoreboard and following on the clubhouse, groundsmans garage and separate changing rooms.  Moving around the boundary which is heavily tree lined there is selection of training nets, to the opposite side of the clubhouse is a stone wall which divides you from the Hall's vineyard.  Its a shame this is in the covers because if it was a bowling end I cant think of any other grounds that could announce 'the new bowler form the vineyard end is....'.
Coming back towards our initial entry point you now run in parallel with the track road of our entry point.  Other furniture here at Staveley Rd are a couple of nice sized sight screens, a lovely collection of bench and modern seats for spectators and a cracking old steam engine for heavy rolling duty that as probably found a resting place at wide and very deep long on.
On my return from the obligatory circuit I met Chris Drury a life member of Eckington Cricket Club who had been connected with the club since 1962.  Mr Drury had asked me about the camera swinging around my neck and upon telling him about the blog he proceeded to introduce me to club Chairman Andy Vaughan who was busy chasing around and who I would catch up with later.  Anyway Mr Drury clearly loved the club and living just down the road within the town he was proud of its achievements over the years in current terms he spoke proudly about the academy players and the development of a new clubhouse that the club had just received a grant for.  Indeed it was clear how important the club was too him as he got quiet emotional at their achievements.
Eckington after a years away in 2014 had returned last season to the Premier League a place were they remain for this season and now entry into the Premier T20 were we see today's 3 teams compete against one another with a pool of 4 across Derbyshire.  Todays nearest and the only one in the North of the county had encouraged me and the appearance of the overseas players was a pull too, sadly upon arrival I found out that they are not eligible for the T20 tournament.  All three clubs have and overseas professional and the three players were all in attendance today to support their teammates.
Cutthorpe have South African Josh Savage who I believe is carrying a shoulder injury at present, with Eckington welcoming a fellow countryman in Johan Davell.  The latter is a 21 year old right hand bat and right arm off break bowler back home he plays for Sinoville, plus he drives a mighty heavy roller!  Eckington also have a Derbyshire County Cricket Club player allocated to them in Billy Godleman.  The other side in todays encounter are Denby and they have New Zealander Brett Randell and with Denby not due to start until the 2pm game we had a chance to catch up with him later.
Having retired into the clubhouse for a refreshment break I can tell you that of course the club want to renew the facilities but it has a warm and welcoming feel to it with a small bar area and snack hatch and kitchen alongside some toilets, which were nice and clean.  While inside I managed to take a look at Eckington's impressive little yearbook/magazine its always good to see teams make the effort this way.
We were now ready for the first game which would feature Eckington, batting first, versus Cuttthorpe and this was probably the most exciting free hitting innings of the day with the home side reaching 222 for 5.  The main feature being John Balfour hitting 115 off of 38 balls including 12x6's and 6x4's, some big shots in there and a well deserved ovation when the player was finally dismissed just before the close of Eckington's innings.
In fairness this was a massive total and Cutthorpe batted out their 20 overs to reach 101 for 8.
During the first game it was good to catch up with Nigel Smith Football League assistant referee who had popped along to watch one of his mates playing for Cutthorpe.  It was also good to spot former Derbyshire wicketkeeper and Chesterfield goalkeeper Chris Marples who was also in attendance.
Denby were now arriving for their game and there were a few moments to catch up with their overseas professional Brett Randell who had made his debut on Saturday at Cutthorpe after a delayed arrival which also saw him celebrate his 21st birthday in Derbyshire.  Randell is a former New Zealand under 19 international and current Mondial Auckland Aces state player while his club side remains Eden Roskill.  He is a right arm medium-fast bowler and right hand bat with an international top score of 51.  Today of course he Randell cannot play and he says he "would love to be playing'" but added he was just "pleased to be finally here to play some cricket".  Nice to have a quick chat thanks Brett for your time!
Time for the second game and Cutthorpe amassed 133 for 8 with Denby surpassing that total with 4 overs to spare at 134 for 4.
It was also good to see former Derbyshire player Peter Burgoyne feature prominently for Denby with some confident stroke play and some timely big hitting too.
During the end of Cuttthorpe's innings I rudely asked Eckington Chairman Andy Vaughan for a chat you see he was busy on the BBQ which was now doing a roaring trade, he probably needed a rest though.  We retired to the clubhouse were his enthusiasm for the club was clearly evident the excitement, with lots of hard work of course, in the new clubhouse development very prominent.  The club had worked hard to obtain a £75,000 grant from Sport England alongside additional fundraising to build the new clubhouse facilities.  The new build will have a club room, kitchen, bar, toilets and of course the big seller a balcony.  Cricket club and balconies always win the day for me it adds to the atmosphere I believe and with the work of club officials the plans are to have the new clubhouse in place for the start of next season this Andy tells me will be with the help of people connected with the club including club captain Tim Dawson who is a brickie and fellow members who are plumber, electricians and willing workers.  The club plan a party at the end of their season in September and then it will be all systems go, there will also be a new garage built with a scoreboard a top.  The Chariman happily tells of the clubs teams from under 9's upwards and of Eckington's enthusiasm for this being the way forward.  They have a major sponsor this season in Woolley Brothers and are very grateful for their generous support that clearly helps the club move in the right direction. 
While discussing the overseas players Vaughan tells the blog that their overseas player for the last 8 years have been South African and that current player Davel came well recommended and so far he has taken on coaching roles throughout the club alongside ground work to assist the club, indeed before the final game he jumped aboard the heavy roller to back up this observation.
To sum up Chairman Vaughan commented his 2 principles "the club will and have worked hard with the juniors" and the overriding unique selling point of Eckington Cricket Club "we are all in it together" 
Thanks to Andy for his time and our interesting conversation was full of his interest, commitment and dedication to the club but for now his dedication was needed as head chef at the BBQ!
So into the final game and both of the days winners would compete with Denby scoring 145 for 9 with Burgoyne hitting 57.  Eckington completed a successful weekend with had seen them go top of the Premier League with a win at Spondon on Saturday by scoring 151 for 4 for their second victory of the day, captain Dawson hitting 44 off of 24 balls.
An entertaining day with a welcoming club who have some excellent plans in place which hopefully their merry band of followers will be able to enjoy even more next season when the new clubhouse is in place for now though the on field success will keep them well fed.

No comments:

Post a Comment