The curtain came down on the 2021 season last month with three major events taking place.
The first of those was completed by Paul Revill and Philip McCormick at the at the beginning of the month with the laying three new playing pitches on the bottom ground, an initiative from the Executive Committee that has been universally welcomed. This is another clear demonstration of the long-term view being taken on club development and hopefully we will be able to start with junior games and practice on these new pitches in summer 2023.
Experts at work...
Progress through the month of November....
After the cancellation of the 2020 AGM due to COVID19, the 2021 enactment took place in the clubhouse on Tuesday 2nd November. Chairman Peter Shields welcomed the small but attentive gathering and proceeded with the business at hand, with all reports being comprehensive and approved by the meeting. The Chairman himself was returned for a seventh consecutive year at the helm and familiar faces filled the other key office bearer roles. However, it was also noted that there were new faces taking up committee roles and Gavin Rogers, Neil Dalzell, Paul McLaughlin and Michael Dines will bring some new ideas and positive attitude to proceedings no doubt! 2022 Executive Committee
Finally, in what was a busy week, the Awards Night at The Green on Friday 5th was a great success. Nearly 100 players, parents, sponsors, spectators and alickadoos were in attendance (socially distanced across two rooms) as awards were handed out for all teams, from the Under 9's throughout the youth, women's then men's sections, recognising both excellent performance for club sides, as well as representative honours and sportsmanship and endeavour. All attendees were well fed, watered and entertained in the wee small hours by the excellent Stuart Lunn on guitar.
In an all plenty to whet the appetite for the 2022 season, watch this space for further developments throughout the winter...
The club are delighted to announce the signing of South African all-rounder Neil Brand as our overseas player for the 2022 season.
25 year-old Neil was born in Johannesburg but went to high school at King’s College in Taunton and played for the Somerset and Glamorgan 2nd XIs, before returning home to South Africa to star for the University of Pretoria. He was the leading run-scorer, man of the match in the final and player of the tournament as he led Tuks to the Varsity Cup title, repeating the exact same achievements when they won the National Club Championships. Player of the tournament in the SA Universities Week was another accolade picked up.
Since 2018 he has played for the Titans franchise and boasts a first class batting average of 39, and has captured 41 wickets with his slow left arm bowling.
We look forward to welcoming Neil and his partner to The Green in April next year and hope for a productive season both on and off the field.
The club AGM will take place in the clubhouse on Tuesday 2nd November at 7.30pm.
Carl Robinson will not be returning to the club next season - we would like to thank him for his 5 years service and wish him good luck for the future.
Robinson Services League Awards
Three North Down cricketers receive prestigious Robinson Services League awards for outstanding performances: from left Alaistair Shields, Anniruddha Chore and Carl Robinson. Shields and Chore each scored Premier League centuries against CSNI and Lisburn respectively while Robinson won his award with the ball taking 6-30 against Carrickfergus. Centuries, at least six wickets or a hat trick are the awards’ criteria in the top four NCU leagues and they were presented by David Robinson, managing director of Robinson Services, and Roger Bell, president of the NCU.
Gallagher New Youth Academy Sponsor
The club are delighted to announce Gallagher as the new headline sponsor of our youth cricket section at The Green.
The youth section of the club, which we re-branded this year to be our Academy, has grown dramatically in the last few years after a concerted effort to revive it's fortunes, and the new sponsorship will help us to continue that good work and build on the solid foundations now in place.
This season with over 150 kids we have fielded at least 8 sides throughout the age groups and have for the first time in our history fielded an all girls team. The coaching team have worked tirelessly throughout the summer months and despite not winning any trophies we have made the step forward to be competitive in the age-group Premier Leagues and the U15s reached their league semi-final. On top of that, a number of players have achieved underage NCU representative selection.
The additional sponsorship has not only helped provide new playing shirts but will also ease the financial burden during the winter months, when facility hire is a large expense. On top of that, it will also enable us to progress with initiatives such as a new bowling machine and video analysis equipment which will be of great benefit to the players and coaches.
So a huge 'thank you' to Gallagher from all the youth players, coaches and parents at The Green!
Shane Matthews, Regional Managing Director at Gallagher, said “We are huge cricket fans at Gallagher and are delighted to be partnering with North Down Cricket Club.
As a local community broker, supporting sport in the areas where our clients are based is something we are passionate about. Partnering with a cricket club that is such a pillar of the local community is a huge source of pride for us.
After what has been a challenging couple of years for sport, we are delighted that the season has been such a success."
Second Best in Senior Cup Finals
It wasn't to be for either the men or ladies in the finals of the NCU Senior Challenge Cups, sponsored by our friends Gallagher Insurance.
The weather was the main topic of conversation in the run up to the men's decider which was against CIYMS at The Green. As usual, we pulled out all the stops and although on the day the rain threatened, The Green was immaculate both inside and outside the rope and the committee would like to thank all those who played their part.
Unfortunately on the field it was a difficult day for our 1sts, playing in the final for the first time since 2012.
Although we didn't bowl badly, silly mistakes and uncharacteristic sloppiness let the scoreboard get away from us a bit, and chasing 270 under pressure was always a big ask.
And so it proved - the skipper being run out early set the tone for a run chase that never got started and we were well beaten on the day.
Hopefully a step forward though and next time we'll be better equipped for the experience.
The ladies final was at a sun drenched Lawn on Sunday and Staci Maxwell and her troops were up against favourite's CSNI.
Having inserted the opposition and got them 5 down for 50 odd the game was really on, but a late innings recovery took CSNI to a respectable 116 in the allotted 20 overs.
The North Down reply struggled to get any early momentum and by the time we picked up the pace later on the run rate had just got too high, CSNI winning in the end by 20 odd runs.
A Club Steeped in Tradition
Above: the inaugural winners in 1897
By the club historians...
When North Down face CIYMS in the Senior Challenge Cup Final at The Green on Friday it will be a new experience for 8 members of the team. Only Ryan and Andrew Haire with 15 appearances between them and Peter Eakin with 1 will fully appreciate the significance and history of the trophy that will be on display in front of the pavilion.
The home side, with the Final being played for the eighth consecutive year at The Green, should have a good support from those who have enjoyed the experience of playing at this stage and the many youngsters who play in the junior teams. There have been 3 Golden Eras in the club’s history the first coming from 1887 until 1899 when the great trophy was won 9 times. Oscar Andrews reigned supreme with the bat and ball and the Turner brothers, Willie and Sam, and Tommy Graham took the bulk of the wickets under the captaincy of John Andrews Jnr.
The 2nd Golden Era was between the 2 World Wars 1919 until 1939 when James and Tom Macdonald, Jack Dearden, DGR McKibbin and Jackie Shields ruled for 2 decades under the leadership of the inimitable Willie Andrews.
The most recent Golden Era in Senior Challenge Cup terms began in 2000 and finished in 2010.
The cup sides at this time were bursting with talent and although many players graced the Final, some stood out. Robin Haire with 12 North Down finals under his belt played in 7 of these Millennium Finals as did Jo Montgomery with two others prior to 2000.
Ryan Haire and the classy David Kennedy both scored unbeaten centuries while both players and Andrew White, Jo Montgomery, Neil Russell, Peter Shields and Robin Haire added plenty of runs to the score book and at the same time there were wickets aplenty for the likes of Billy Adams, Marty Dalzell, Gavin McKenna, Ralph Coetzee and Peter Connell - who can forget the celebrations when Connell dismissed his fellow Kiwi, the brilliant Craig McMillan in 2010?!
Ryan Haire, destroying with the bat, Martin Moreland taking many crucial wickets and Shields, top wicket-keeper and leading the side during these glory years, played in all 10 Finals during this period.
In contrast to the 31 outright cup wins and 1 shared, CIYMS have won this trophy only 3 times but recently in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and have plenty of dangerous opposition to the home side including former North Down players James Cameron-Dow and Jacob Mulder. The sides have met already this season at Belmont in the Premier League when North Down were successful by 53 runs but in cup terms, the last big meeting in a Final was at The Green in 2010 when North Down won by 74 runs and Taimur Khan was MOM with 89 and 3 for 14.
Ali Shields leads a very talented side into this Final, which, weather permitting, should be a classic.
You can read more about all of the Senior Cup 'characters' in The Vault...
The Story So Far...
The ups and downs of our various men's, women's and youth teams in the 2021 season so far are too many to chronicle in one short news article but can be pretty much summed up with one short phrase - it has been a 'mixed bag'!
After a disappointing exit from the T20 at the league stage, the 1stXI have played some excellent 50 over cricket and find themselves second in the Premier League table and with a Senior Challenge Cup final v CIYMS to look forward to this Friday (13th).
The junior teams have all been in action on a regular basis but at the time of writing are threatening neither the top or bottom of their respective league tables and cup competitions.
The ladies play Lurgan in the semi-final of the Senior Cup tomorrow at Pollock Park with a place in the decider at stake for Staci Maxwell's troops, after a comprehensive quarter final victory against Holywood.
Neil Dalzell and his band of coaches have been extremely busy with over 150 kids registered at the club this year, and teams at all age groups. The numbers are fantastic and blow all that has gone before out of the water. There have also been some youth interprovincial selections which the club are very proud of!
The Under 15s, led by skipper Drew Parker, play Cliftonville Academy this Thursday night in the league semi-final at The Castle Grounds.
Saturday the 7th August is a washout but lets hope for more favourable weather going forward and a dry, successful end to the season...
Aniruddha 'Ani' Chore joined the club ahead of the 2021 season and what an impression he has made.
A talented wicketkeeper it is with the bat that he has excelled, in the season to date having scored 854 runs at an average of 106, including 3 centuries and 2 Challenge Cup MOM awards.
He is seen here pictured receiving Robinson Services awards alongside his skipper Ally Shields, David Robinson and NCU President Roger Bell.
We are all delighted that Ani has settled so well at the club and hope for further success this season, and beyond.
Eakin - 10 Years of Support
Eakin's major sponsorship of the club has reached a milestone in 2021 as this is the tenth year of our partnership. The club are indebted to Jeremy and all at Eakin for their continued support.
This is what Jeremy had to say:
"2021 marks 10 years of Eakin Group’s partnership with North Down Cricket Club. During that time the club has continued to thrive and stay a strong and relevant part of the Comber community despite changing lifestyles and demands on peoples’ time. However, lately much has changed in the world around us due to the covid pandemic. Thankfully as vaccination rates are high in N Ireland, players are participating in a near full season of cricket so spectators and loyal fans can again enjoy and critique from the sidelines.
Here at the Eakin Group we have also experienced change in the last year as we have acquired Armstrong Medical in Coleraine. This means we are now actively manufacturing and supplying respiratory care products to the NHS and further afield – part of our commitment to supporting those in critical care during the pandemic and beyond. We are committed to better health and care globally and to providing employment opportunities within Northern Ireland.
On behalf of the Eakin Group, I would like to wish North Down Cricket Club well for the season and to all players and fans, please stay safe and healthy."
We have been delighted in recent weeks to see some of our players receive representative recognition, it is richly deserved and a credit to both themselves, coaches and families, well done!