Grow­ing strong on their pro­duc­tion line of ta­lent

Andrew Law­ton vis­its a club that has come a long way in 30 years with a fam­ily friendly cul­ture

The Cricket Paper - - SPOTLIGHT -

Four years ago New­ton Ay­cliffe were pro­moted into the North York­shire and South Durham League, quite an achieve­ment for a club which was only formed in 1986. The club started on the bot­tom rung of the league lad­der but fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion in 2013, they have taken the NYSD Gold Award for Club of the Year ev­ery year.

The award takes into ac­count the match-day ex­pe­ri­ence, marks from umpires, player be­hav­iour and even the qual­ity of the ad­min­is­tra­tion at clubs through­out the league.

New­ton Ay­cliffe, like most up and down the coun­try, is run en­tirely by vol­un­teers and puts out two teams on a Satur­day af­ter­noon as well as hav­ing a strong ju­nior sec­tion from U11s up to U15s.

The 1st XI com­pete in Divi­sion 4 of the NYSD League now and club sec­re­tary Lee Wel­don, who joined the club in 1988, has seen the club come a long way in nearly 30 years.

“I burst with pride (win­ning the gold award), it’s a team ef­fort,” he said.

“It’s some­thing we set out to do and we are jeal­ous if any­one gets near us, we have been in the league four years and won it four times.

“From where we started in 1986 it’s snow­balled, I am very proud of the progress we have made. We’ve joined what I think is the best league in the coun­try.” Wel­don was also in­stru­men­tal in help­ing the club set up its ju­nior sec­tion and the club sec­re­tary in­sists out of the 22 se­nior play­ers out on a Satur­day, as many as 19 or 20 can be for­mer ju­niors. It’s a sys­tem which has seen the club flour­ish and no longer is Wel­don re­quired to fill sec­re­tary, trea­surer and fix­tures sec­re­tary on the New­ton Ay­cliffe com­mit­tee as he was when he first joined. “I started an U11s when my son was young and with lo­cal ad­ver­tis­ing man­aged to get enough play­ers where we could join a league. My daugh­ter used to play, too,” he said. “The U11s did re­ally well and when my son was too old for them we formed an U13s and we got new young­sters com­ing through.

“That got the mo­men­tum go­ing and then we cre­ated the U15s and it’s snow­balled. We have as many kids now as we have ever had in the club’s his­tory.

“Now we are reap­ing the ben­e­fits and that’s what makes the club. The par­ents have been watch­ing for years and are part of the club, it’s be­come a fam­i­ly­ori­en­tated club.

“It’s all vol­un­teers who want to take the club for­ward, it’s a big fam­ily. The chair­man’s wife is our com­mer­cial man­ager and the wife of one of the play­ers is child wel­fare of­fi­cer, which is fan­tas­tic.”

New­ton Ay­cliffe sits around five miles north of Dar­ling­ton, and Wel­don and the fel­low mem­bers of the club com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing chair­man Ian Palmer and com­mer­cial man­ager Va­lerie Palmer, have big plans to keep the club mov­ing for­ward.

The club are in dis­cus­sions about build­ing new chang­ing rooms and are con­tin­u­ously on the search for ways to keep the club on a sta­ble fi­nan­cial foot­ing, some­thing spon­sors Franks have played a key part in.

In time, Wel­don hopes that a third team can be de­vel­oped at the club and he is con­fi­dent that if the ju­nior sec­tion con­tin­ues to go from strength to strength un­der their ju­nior de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Adam Git­tins, it will.

“Ian Palmer has taken over as chair­man and put a hell of a lot of work in but the club is noth­ing with­out the ju­niors,” he said.

“In re­cent years Adam has gal­vanised the ju­nior sec­tion. He started here as a 13 or 14 year old and is putting lots back into the club.

“He’s only in his 20s, he’s in charge of the U11s and it’s great to see him de­velop from a young boy into do­ing what he does, so much coach­ing.

“Our ma­jor thing ob­vi­ously is to keep that con­veyor belt of ju­niors com­ing through, get­ting the ju­niors play­ing quick cricket.

“You can­not stand still. There’s al­ways some­thing to do and that’s why I can’t walk away. I have not fin­ished yet, there’s still more to do. Once it gets un­der your skin, you’re hooked.”

We have as many kids now as we have ever had in the club’s his­tory. Now we are reap­ing the ben­e­fits and that’s what makes the club

A bit of club life: New­ton Ay­cliffe CC

On pa­rade: New­ton Ay­cliffe’s se­niors in 2014 with some of the club’s ju­niors

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