Birthday boys aim to party
KEITH PEEL Dereham Cricket Club are hoping to cap their 150th anniversary celebrations with another promotion party. Last summer they won the West Norfolk League championship to regain their Norfolk Alliance place.
Dereham Cricket Club are hoping to cap their 150th anniversary celebrations with another promotion party. Last summer they won the West Norfolk League championship to regain their Norfolk Alliance place. Now they're aiming to earn promotion from Division Three and take another step back up the status ladder on whose top rung they were once proudly perched. Dereham, indeed, boast a benchmark double entry in the county's club cricket record books, having been the first Bob Carter Cup winners in 1969 and the first Alliance champions two years later.
They're currently second in Division Three after a nine-wicket defeat of Swaffham in which Duncan Hewitt hit an unbeaten 101 and Stuart Garner scored 61 not out.
“The club hit hard times in the mid-90s, being relegated from the Premier Division and then slipping down the divisions and, two seasons ago, out of the Alliance,” explained club captain and secretary Kevin Denmark.
“That prompted a management overhaul, with Philip Banyard taking over as chairman and Joe Marczewski being appointed first team captain, and the introduction of a youth policy, with all the older guys, myself included, being politely asked if they'd mind playing for the second team in future.
“The changes proved their worth, because the team bounced straight back and, after winning Division One of the West Norfolk League by quite a distance, look set for a good push for another promotion.
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“The revival is also reflected in the fortunes of our second and youth teams.”
He added: “We recently agreed a major sponsorship deal with home improvement specialists Henman Green, and most of their funding will be earmarked for the enhancement of facilities for young players.
“What we haven't done for the last year or so is fund an overseas player.
“We are finding that, as you move up the leagues, you do need overseas players to compete, but, as things stand, we want to keep the sponsorship funding specifically for the youth of Dereham, for the future wellbeing of the club.”
Marczewski said: “The policy of sticking with local talent is paying off and everyone's enjoying themselves, which is the main thing.
“Dereham slipped down and out of the Alliance because they simply weren't good enough any more and the problem wasn't addressed in time.
“Thankfully, we bounced straight back and now we try not to look behind us, but to look ahead, play as well as we can and get as high as we can.
“Most encouraging for me is the growth of our youth membership and the fact that so many young players are competing for places in the first team.
“That can only bode well for the future of the club.”
Club chairman Banyard said: “Although our aim was simply to consolidate our place in Division Three, we have surpassed that already.
“Promotion would be an incredible achievement, but it is not out of our reach if we continue to play as well as we did against Swaffham.”
As part of their anniversary celebrations, Dereham host an all-day game (11.30am start) against an MCC XI next Monday at their Norwich Road ground.