CRICKET: You have to doff your caps to the progressive attitude at Sandringham Cricket Club.
The former West Norfolk League side have enjoyed a perfect start to life in the higher-level Norfolk Alliance.
Midway through their second season, they are still unbeaten, having recorded 25 wins from their 28 matches, quickly moving through Division Six as champions, to their current place atop Division Five. The only matches they have not won have been abandoned or cancelled.
The success comes on the back of a long-standing youth initiative, which has brought a steady stream of youngsters into the team.
Youth team organiser and coach Peter Askew is keen to see more youngsters join him in the Sandringham team and said: “Our aim is to give youngsters the opportunity to enjoy playing cricket, while improving the skills they already have.
“We run three youth teams, from u9s, through u13s to u15s, as well as a thriving All Stars programme, all of which are well supported by the players’ parents.
“Our youth system enables a pathway into adult cricket and five players have already made the transition over the past three years, with four of them representing West Norfolk in the regional MCC hub.
“Each year we strive to improve our facilities and services to offer the best environment for all young players to grow and be the best they can be.”
But it is not only on the field that Sandringham have been noticed, the club have also featured nationally, thanks to captain Aaron Nicol, who decided to help spread the club’s name further.
After one of this summer’s Cricket World Cup games, he got famous players to be pictured with a club cap.
“Graeme Swann knew about the club and willingly wore the cap,” said Nicol.
“Not so much for Alex Stewart apparently, although he was happy to pose for me.”
That spawned an in-house competition to see who could get the best picture with a club cap in it.
Although based on the royal estate, in the grounds of Park House, the club is open to all, pulling in players from across West Norfolk.
“We ultimately want to achieve longevity as a club,” said Nicol.
“We are raising money to make the club more accessible to the wider community and want to attract players of all ages and ability.”
As well as the successful Norfolk Alliance first team, the club also runs a second team in the West Norfolk League, bringing through lots of youth players from the u13 and u15s, to introduce them to the adult game.
The club’s facilities continue to impress and Norfolk u13s chose Sandringham as the venue for a match against Middlesex, following a previous appearance by the county u16s at the venue.
Askew said: “We are really proud of our club. The feedback from Middlesex was excellent and they want to come back next year.
“The umpires stated the pitch played excellently and the Norfolk boards were also thoroughly pleased and appreciative of what we have to offer.”
As well as league matches and coaching sessions, the club also enjoys a close relationship with their royal landlords, hosting a match against the Royal Warrant Holders at the annual Sandringham Flower Show.
This year saw the hosts declare on 250 before bowling out their opponents for 185.
A great day saw a raffle bring in lots of money for the club and also youth player Zara Bek, who is raising money for a conservation trip to Costa Rica.
The Sandringham committee refuses to stand still and is keen to continue to grow with plans in hand to extend the pavilion, which will allow changing facilities for women players to be built and more space for storage.
The club are grateful to their shirt sponsors KLS UK, as well as sleeve sponsors CKC and 1-2 Call Worksafe.
Player Brad Tennant is now looking for sponsors for the team’s tracksuits and training kit.
Any businesses interested in promoting themselves in this way, can contact the club via Twitter: sandringhamcc1 – Instagram: sandringham_cc – Facebook: Sandringham Cricket Club – or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org