Although the Cricket Club is thriving once again, apparently it was in dire straits some four years ago, according to their recent promotional video tweeted and presented just at the moment on their official website. It’s certainly true that the grounds, maintained under an arrangement with the Allendale Agricultural Show Committee, are among the most spectacular in the country.
I remember when the Club Pavilion was built (such a lovely building with some serious cladding issues), which changed the entire face of the pitch and the club, and at the same time I recall what a mess the grounds were in (I can’t remember how many sucked teeth I listened to!) as drainage challenges conspired to wreak havoc for at least an entire season, if not two. With National Lottery funding, the club had completed the £350,000 revamp of the Riding Haugh ground in 2004, but not without some serious problems facing that effort. But time has a way of mellowing all things, and over the succeeding years, the cladding issues on the pavilion were fixed as the ground settled back into normal drainage mode.
Last September, the club, under its new chair Tim Raglan, voted to apply to the Northumberland and Tyneside Cricket League for its Senior Team, aiming to continue to provide its second team to the West Tyne League, in which the club had been champions in the 2017 season. This year, the senior team plays in the NTCL’s 4th Division, and the opportunity for advancement is meant to send a strong signal to the younger players that the club is an ideal place to develop into strong, maturing young players able to face rugged competition, rather than to lose their emerging talent to Hexham or Corbridge clubs.
New initiatives for the junior teams are always in play, as featured on the club’s facebook page, and over the past several years the club has supported All-Stars Cricket, for 5-8 year olds, which seeks to introduce young players to the sport.
I remember a variety of fund-raising activities promoted by the Cricket Club, notably some riotous evenings in Allendale Village Hall, which always seemed to elicit more funds than one would ever have dreamed possible, from such affairs. So community support for the club has certainly been strong in the recent past, and doubtless continues apace today. Just as important as fund-raising activities, of course, is actual participation in the sport itself, turning out to practises and training sessions, playing in matches under a soggy sky.
But recruitment efforts are always posted on all available facebook notice places (incuding the Sports Club’s, and Allendale area notices), so that the youngsters in our community have an undeniably strong opportunity to participate in team-based sporting activities that are a credit to the parish.
I suppose that the sports of rugby, rowing and swimming are among the few classic British activities that are not represented locally, necessitating a trip into Hexham to participate, but for a small rural village, opportunities like league cricket have got to be an incredible incentive to excellence for young, sports-mad families.