Blundeston settle in at their new home
Phil BanyardBlundeston Cricket Club have given up their nomadic existence and at last have a place they can call home.The club was formed 10 years ago to give juniors the chance to play cricket and four years ago it entered an adult team in the Norfolk League.Phil Banyard
Blundeston Cricket Club have given up their nomadic existence and at last have a place they can call home.
The club was formed 10 years ago to give juniors the chance to play cricket and four years ago it entered an adult team in the Norfolk League.
Without their own base, however, they had to play home games at borrowed venues, often Southtown Common in Gorleston. But with the club expanding to two Saturday sides and a Sunday team, as well as junior sides at Under-10, U11, U13 and U15 level, Blundeston required a more permanent base and they have found the perfect site at Somerleyton playing fields.
Club chairman Graeme Talbot said: 'I was slightly cheeky and I actually wrote to Lord and Lady Somerleyton to ask if they could help. I then had a phone call from Lady Somerleyton, who put me in touch with the Somerleyton Community Association and they have been very helpful in facilitating everything - without their help we would not be where we are now.'
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Blundeston have agreed a 10-year lease of the playing field from the association - rent free in return for the club cutting the grass - and spent the winter working tirelessly to produce a cricket field.
Talbot added: 'As of August last year it was little more than an overgrown field, so over the winter we've been producing a cricket pitch. We are fortunate that our head coach, Gary Colman, is also a qualified groundsman so he has been able to point us in the right direction. We have had volunteers - members and parents of junior players - helping us with the work since September and I think I've spent more time up there than I have been at home!
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'It is developing and we are learning as we go along. It's still early days and there's a lot of work to do, but we were able to start playing cricket at our new home in May.'
The �15,000 project has been part-funded by a �9,700 grant from Sport England, with the club receiving guidance from the Norfolk Cricket Board's development manager Kieron Tuck. Chartered accountants Lovewell Blake also donated �2,000 as part of their LB150 Challenge, a project set up to mark the firm's 150th anniversary in 2008.
The club's own fundraising events and donations from local businesses have also helped, and Blundeston have been able to buy new sightscreens as well as equipment for maintaining the ground and improving practice sessions.
Changing facilities at the moment are described as 'basic' by Talbot, with no sewerage facilities and an existing mobile building acting as a shared changing room for teams. But the club have plans to work with the community association to seek funding and planning permission to improve the facilities in the future.
Blundeston are still seeking help from sponsors with their improvement programme and anyone interested in helping should contact the club's grants and fundraising officer, Mark Chapman, on 07826 270311.