Young cricketers are once again taking wickets and scoring runs at a South East Northumberland cricket club after support from a regional employer enabled its junior section to be revived.
Junior cricket at Seaton Burn Cricket Club petered out around a decade ago due to a lack of playing facilities and available coaches, but with several of the present 1st XI having come through the ranks at the club themselves, the desire to give kids across the community the chance to learn and play at their local club had come back to the fore.
To allow this to happen, the club needed to find new equipment which could be used to bring the pitches at either end of the club’s main wicket, on which junior matches had formerly been played, back into use.
And now, thanks to a £3,200 grant from the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, a new hand roller and mower which will do the required jobs have been purchased, as well as a secure container in which they can be safely stored.
A number of senior players have completed coaching badges in advance of the junior section being relaunched, and regular practice sessions which are already attracting around 30 children have now commenced at the Front Street ground.
The club has teamed up with a local school to encourage its pupils to come along to coaching sessions, and it is also working with other local clubs with large junior sections to take on some of their players who might not otherwise be getting all the coaching time they would like.
It is hoping to be able to start playing friendly matches later in the season, with a view to building towards having a full junior section with teams at every level from U11s to U19s within a few years which will then go on to supply players to the senior sides.
As of this season, the club has an under 11 team in the Northumberland Junior Cricket League Central and Coast Division.
Membership secretary Paul Redmayne says: “Many current members of our senior sides learnt the game by playing for our former junior teams, and reopening this player pipeline has been something that the club committee has been keen to do for some time.
“We’re the only cricket club in this area, which has meant that local juniors have had to go further afield to have the chance of a game, and we’re hopeful that the work we’re putting in now will attract growing numbers back to play closer to home.
“The interest we’ve had already is very encouraging, and while it will take some time to get everything in place that we want, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to start playing friendly matches this year, with our more promising players also getting opportunities to play for our 3rd XI.
“The money we needed to buy the required equipment was well beyond what a small club like ours could afford, and the funding that the Banks Group has provided has probably saved us three or four years of fundraising work, which is time we can spend much more profitably on getting our junior section fully up and running instead.”
Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at the Banks Group, which is the operator of the nearby Shotton surface mine adds: “The Seaton Burn committee has made a real commitment to widening access to coaching and providing playing opportunities for young cricketers, and we’re looking forward to seeing their long-term planning rewarded with the revival of a thriving, successful junior section.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.