We'll put that one down to experience.

The 2ndXI that travelled to Brigade on Sunday and lost by 29 runs in the Ulster Plate should not be dismissed as just another defeat for a 2ndXI that are struggling for form right now - the fact that 6 of the 11 who took to the field were under 18 years of age (2 x 17yo, 1 x 16yo, 3 x 14yo) demonstrates that there is light at the end of the tunnel with respect to the 'production line' which has been out of action for too long!

The theme last weekend was 'same old' as results across the club were mixed.

The 1stXI had a bad night a Carrick in the T20 Cup, neither batting nor bowling fired and we were duly 'stuffed'! Saturday saw 4 valuable points gained at the expense of Cregagh thanks to the overseas contingent's runs and wickets - next up is the Irish Senior Cup on Sunday at Phoenix when some much improved form will be required to secure a place in the quarters...

The 3rds had a comprehensive win at Bangor on Sunday in Junior 4 (4 wickets for Cleland, 40 odd with the bat for Dugan) but the 4ths were well beaten by the 'Aghy 3rds on Sunday.

Various youth games are also taking place regularly at The Green with the place full of girls and boys enjoying their cricket, roll on the best weather of the summer, soon, please!

Excellent progress, but only off the field...

Rarely in our 165 year history has there been so much going on around the club. In recent weeks we have been undergoing a major internal refurb and hosted a hugely successful Cricket Ireland T20 Weekend, over the winter we laid new pitches, last week our new electronic scoreboard was installed, our next home game will be live streamed*, the new driveway gates are due this month, new practice netting for the entire cage is being installed, the list seems endless!

All this of course while we go about our usual business of playing, coaching, fundraising etc etc.

Last weekend we hosted the latest version of our fantastic Beer & Cider festivals, an event that is now a really family friendly day entertaining the whole community whilst raising valuable funds.

Sadly, it was highlight of the weekend as results and performances on the field failed to live up to those off it.

The 1stXI exited the Challenge Cup and surrendered 4 valuable league points with under-par batting performances that leave more questions than answers. The ladies' and junior teams didn't fare much better and it was left to the Under 11s on Monday night to restore some pride with a nail-biting victory against CSNI, well done to them!

*subject to equipment being delivered on time!

Another 'Mixed Bag'

The 'cup' Saturday in May has been a problematic one in recent seasons, with all four teams out in one day providing a selection headache down the club.

No fewer than 18 player were unavailable on Saturday past but it is a credit to the growing junior club that we still fielded four competitive teams which included players from right across the age spectrum!

Stalwarts Dean McDonald, Davy Napier and Billy Dale took a 4thXI which included a vast majority youth players to Banford Green were they came up 12 runs short against Donacloney Mill 4ths - Thomas Vidamour once again the standout player.

Dean McDonald

Whilst across in Donacloney the 2nds had a disappointing loss in the Junior Cup, where batting woes once again proved costly as the 111 posted proved insufficient to Martin Moreland's men.

The 3rds had a straightforward victory against Holywood 2nds at Seapark in the Lindsay Minor Cup - 3 wickets for Aadi Maini followed up by a quickfire 47 for Lewis Dugan that raced the team into the second round.

At The Green, the 1sts v Brigade was touted by some as 'match of the round' in the Irish Senior Cup but it turned out to be anything but, as the home side trounced the visitors by 10 wickets in a one-sided encounter. Skipper Ally Shields was the MOM with a five wicket haul and then an unbeaten 77 with the bat.

So two wins from four, a mixed bag!

The club teams take a break this weekend as the Cricket Ireland Interprovincial T20 Festival comes to The Green, there are two matches scheduled for each day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Up and Running

Although it is only the 4th May the new season is now well underway with most of the club's teams having seen some action on the field.

The men's 1stXI have started with back-to-back wins helped in the large part by a couple of 'tons' from Stirlo, while the ladies have won one and lost one.

Paul Stirling

In the junior teams it has been a mixed bag but good player availability bodes well for the season ahead.

The ever-expanding youth section have also started (did they ever stop?) and under the direction of the tireless Neil Dalzell seem destined to have their busiest summer ever!

The Premier League returns to The Green this Thursday (6pm) as the guys host CSNI in the game washed out from last week, while on Saturday CIYMS are the visitors.

Fixtures:

Wednesday
U15 v Cregagh HOME Friendly 6pm
Thursday
M1 v CSNI HOME Premier League 6pm
Friday
M2 v Inst HOME T20 Plate 6pm
Saturday
M1 v CIYMS HOME Premier League TBC
M2 v CIYMS AWAY Junior 1 TBC
Sunday
M3 v CACC HOME Junior 4 1pm

Bar Opening Hours:

Thursday 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Friday 4pm - 10pm
Saturday 12 noon - late
Sunday 2pm - 8pm

THAT'S A WRAP

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...
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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.

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In an all plenty to whet the appetite for the 2022 season, watch this space for further developments throughout the winter...

Neil Brand

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.

Other News:

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.

Challenge Cup Finalists 2021 (c) Ian Johnston/CricketEurope

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.

Ladies Squad with Neil Hunter (left, Gallagher Insurance) and Sam Beckett (NCU Chairman) (c) Michael Dines

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.

1936 Senior Challenge Cup Winners v Woodvale

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.

2010

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.

2021 Skipper Alistair Shields

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...