Hope you’re all keeping well. I know it’s been quite a while since i’ve posted an update but hopefully quality over quantity might suffice.
We are only 6 weeks away from the start of the 2023 season and there is still plenty of preparatory work to be done at Blackfyne. The field is looking in good condition as a result of the hard work put in at the end of the season by our members, all being well, the weather will remain favourable so that Keith, Gordon and Geoff will have the place looking it’s usual resplendent self come 15th April for the visit of Annfield Plain 1st X1.
The 1st X1 will be hoping for a stronger showing than in 2023 and have fresh faces in the side to help reinforce their strength. We have opted against an overseas player for this season but have been able to welcome Lee Whitfield, John Meadows and James Radcliffe. These are 3 proven local lads who will be popular among their team mates as well as all having the required desire to win. The team will be lead by Chris Winn after Stuart Graham stepped down from captaincy duties at the end of 2022.
The 2nd X1, who collected their league winners trophy on Saturday evening at the NTCL dinner at Newcastle Racecourse, begin life in Division 4 with a trip to Stobswood Welfare. The team will again be lead by Andrew Ray, who felt he had to go again with the team having been promoted. Sadly, John Stokoe and Nathan Smith have made the short journey down Durham Road as they will line up for Shotley Bridge in 2023 after being integral members of a successful side in 2022, I wish them both all the best. Lewis Fletcher has made the journey in the opposite direction, having already played for Consett during the Covid hit season of 2020. He is well known to the lads in the team and is a great all round addition to the team.
The 3rd X1 fixtures have not yet been released but they will be putting a lot more focus on junior participation in 2023. (if selected) I will be part of the side lead by Harry Davison who will be looking to encourage several of our Under 13 players into senior cricket during the more friendly nature of Sunday cricket in the HLSCL.
Our junior section is shaping up well ahead of the season lead by Stuart, Ste T, Ste G, Dicka and others and have been training since New Year. We will again field Under 9, Under 11 and Under 13 teams thanks to their hard work and all being well will field a girls junior team this year too! Their fixtures have just been released at the weekend and will appear on the website in due course.
Off the field, there is always work to be done. At our AGM I was happy that Simon Wilkinson took on the role of fixtures secretary, I’m sure he will do a great job of getting our games organised and is currently in the process of registering teams for the Eric Topham Trophy which returns after a hiatus in 2022. My thanks to Simon for putting his hand up. I’m also pleased to welcome Charlotte Hamilton onto the committee. ‘Mrs Pyke’ is keen as can be to improve our family friendly nature and is already hard at work organising our inaugural Easter Egg Hunt and has other firm ideas around fun days and activities for all. We hope to see many regular faces and plenty of new ones at the club over the course of the season.
My thanks go to all of the committee for their continued hard work to keep the club heading in the right direction. One of our long standing chiefs, Lesley, took the decision to stand down at the AGM and her straight talking, no-nonsense approach will be missed. For anyone expecting an easy time, she will still be at most games with David, giving their positive reviews of team performances on any given day. I’ve become quite partial to these conversations myself….
I have ideas of my own which will hopefully see a few more faces at games over the course of the season. I have been organising for street food vendors to come along on match days and have so far secured dates with PiggyBlinders, Slackjaws GBC, La Cabina and Crepe Expectations. Keep an eye on the website and our social media pages for dates and make sure you come along and sample some great local street food vendors! I hope that we will be able to offer other social events during the year and already have an Easter quiz hosted by Aka, music from Miranda Newton on 9th June to coincide with our All Stars and several other ideas in mind which I can hopefully implement.
During the winter, the club very sadly lost two life-long supporters. David Graham, a member of 50 years who had been heavily involved with the club both on and off the field left us. The club are hosting a memorial bike ride on Saturday 25th March from Parkhead Station near Stanhope to Swalwell to raise funds for our juniors. The money raised will be used to purchase a new bowling machine to assist our coaches in their work to help our juniors realise their potential and make 1 to 1 sessions much easier when needed. The club will be open from 5pm that day and we wold love to welcome as many people as possible back to the club even if they aren’t taking part in the fundraiser as we have something planned in memory of David.
We also lost another long-time supported as Joan Topham passed away just before Christmas. Joan was always a keen supporter of events at Consett, even after her husband and former player Eric passed away some years ago. As a keen supporter of local sport, Joan will be missed and remembered by many people associated with cricket and football in the Consett area.
In comparison with the last couple of winters, there hasn’t been much change in the fabric of our ground. We are however aware of the need to replace the clubhouse roof which will be a costly affair. We will be looking into grant funding to assist with this and hope that the club will be as popular socially throughout the season as we look to get this done later in the year. We do have some other ideas of things we would like to improve around Blackfyne and as funds become available, we will look at ticking these off our wish list one by one. Anything we can do to make our home more welcoming to players and supporters alike is well worth the money. I can hear members of the opposition asking for warmer weather but we sadly don’t have a big enough budget for a giant halogen lamp!
I do have to say a huge thanks to all of the returning sponsors for 2023 and a warm welcome to the new ones that have been kind enough to engage with the club. Well done to Stuart for the leg work involved in securing these. I am hopeful that there will be some more new additions to announce before the season begins and hope that all of our members will check out our sponsors page on the club website when needing any kind of services as all of our sponsors come recommended from our club members.
Our 100 club has had a refresh as of the start of March. It has been run by Mark Roe for the last 2 and a half years and I must thank him for keeping on top of what has often been a difficult task. I’ve managed to rope Jenna into taking this on and it’s only a matter of time before she sees sense and maintains silence when I start on about cricket related matters. She has changed the format going forward which will see us pay out much higher prizes on a weekly basis. It’s great to see many new people taking up numbers and we will try to be more efficient in keeping website and socials up to date with winners and dates going forward than I was previously on behalf of Mark. There are still a couple of numbers available so give Jenna a shout if you’d like to be in with a chance of the £75 weekly prize. Full details on the club website.
Winter nets for seniors have been reasonably well attended in comparison with previous years, the genius fines system of the new 1st X1 captain may have had a bearing on this but I would hope that it’s more that the lads are keen to hit the ground running once things get underway.
We will again be entering a good selection of cup competitions as we know how popular the mid week games are on a sunny evening and will be playing in the ECB National Knockout on 30th April at Blackfyne against Yorkshire Premier League outfit Woodhouse Grange. That should be a great day for people to come along and support the club and enjoy refreshments on the terrace!
At this moment in time, i’m very much looking forward to seeing the season beginning. I’ll see how long my optimism lasts this time around and have to ask myself if this will be the season that the beard turns fully grey or if it will hang on until 2024!
You can access all of our social media outlets for updates by clicking the Linktree below which also gives direct access to things like our club shop hosted by Lorimers.
Look forward to seeing you all at Blackfyne some time soon, Ian