Swanton Morley have solid base for the future
Swanton Morley are building for the future in more ways than one.
A project to create a new �184,000 clubhouse is nearing completion and the club plan to use their new facilities to drive forward their senior, youth and ladies sections.
Building work was delayed until the start of February, meaning the project is now due for completion in early July. George Northall, who has been club chairman for the past 20 years, said: 'It's been quite a tense time, because in January we still had a shortfall of �10,000. We were fortunate to secure some extra funding, but my main concern is that the youth cricket is not affected in the early months by the restricted facilities.'
Northall admits that there will be difficulties over the next two months, with visiting teams changing in the existing tea area, while the home side will use the adjacent pub as a temporary dressing room. Visitors in the second half of the season, will however be able to enjoy some of the best facilities in the league.
'Fundraising has been going on for about 10 years,' said Northall. 'My primary motivation has been the youth element. You can only survive if you bring youngsters through. Of course some may not carry on playing or might leave the club, but if you don't have that flow of players coming in at the bottom, the top suffers.'
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While promotion to the Norfolk Alliance is an obvious aim, just as important for Northall is that focus on youth: 'We have four Level Two qualified coaches at the club and quite a few junior helpers,' he said. 'Once the work is done, we can really stretch forward, that is our big aim. We want to run a quality ladies and girls section and we'll be looking to add more sides to our youth section.'
Inevitably there will be some disruption this year, and equalling last year's fifth place finish in Division One is the realistic aim for the first team. Northall added: 'A few of our senior players have changed jobs and can no longer play on Saturdays, so we will have quite a young side this year. I think we will be looking to consolidate this season and then really push forward next year, when all the work is completed.
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'Our first game on Saturday is against last year's champions Grimston, so it couldn't be a much tougher start.'
Northall has been closely involved with the club since it was re-formed in 1983, but is keen to deflect credit for the huge strides currently being made. 'It's not about one person,' he said. 'There has been a group of people involved, quite a few of whom have also been here right from the start.'
For the second year running, the West Norfolk League has grown in numbers, allowing it to return to five divisions for the 2011 season. The league was left depleted by the Alliance expansion two years ago, but managed to build back up to four divisions of 10 teams last year.
Now four new teams – Long Sutton first and second XIs, Beeston A and Denver A – along with Mundford A, who were relegated from the Alliance, have joined the league, while Leverington have departed to play in the Cambridgeshire league.
Division One has 10 teams, while the other four divisions have eight sides each.