The person bowling in this seemingly random cricket photo is actually me, playing for Gateshead Fell at Chorley during the 1995 semi-final of the National Club Knockout– one of the most memorable moments in the moderate career of a distinctly average sportsman.
It was my only experience of playing in front of a four-figure crowd, and although we were (soundly) beaten on the day, this photo always helps me to recall memories from 25 years of playing a game I love.
Injury forced me to retire in 2004; and two years later I moved to Middlesbrough to be with Elaine … a whole new chapter in my life. The thought of becoming involved in another sporting club, cricket or otherwise, never crossed my mind; but then, totally out of the blue, along came Grangetown…
It’s over four years ago since Gel arranged for me to have a go at playing goal shooter as part of a series of “challenges” I was attempting at the time. It’s fair to say I was rubbish, but as I drove home that night - after being given the all-clear by paramedics - I sensed there was something very special about the club.
Gel knew I did a bit of writing and asked me if I would be interested in doing a few match reports for the Prem squad. I started coming to watch the occasional game, and the rest, as they say…
From the sidelines I’ve seen the squad relegated to Prem 3, gain promotion at the first time of asking, play wonderfully well to lift the Prem 2 championship, and have the most fantastic start to life in Prem 1. It’s been brilliant…
More than that though, I’ve been welcomed into the club, and accepted by the players and coaches, even though I have no family connection to Grangetown; and my two daughters are actually older than the overwhelming majority of the squad (apart from Gen … obviously).
My younger daughter plays netball, and my love of the sport grew from watching her; but I can honestly say that I’ve felt every bit as much enjoyment, excitement –and even pride – from seeing this group of girls develop into one of the best squads in the whole country.
Nothing can ever match the feelings you get from playing competitive team sport, but being accepted as part of the “Grangetown family” comes pretty close - and this blog is simply my way of saying THANK YOU.