Longridge cricket club celebrates landmark match against Aussies
PUBLISHED: 17:45 28 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:37 20 February 2013
The Aussies are heading to the Ribble Valley to celebrate the latest landmark for a flourishing local club, writes Roger Borrell Photography by JoHN Cocks
The print version of this article appeared in the July 2011 issue of Lancashire Life
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They started off with a pitch, a stand pipe and an old concrete garage. Now they are preparing to play former top class cricketers from Australia.
Sometimes we even struggled to get a team, recalls club president Tom Croft. We had to call into the Plough at Grimsargh and drag people out to make up the numbers!
Fast forward 40 years and the Longridge club is one of the most successful in the region and proof positive that village cricket can flourish when it is run by people with passion.
Like all successful teams, they got them young. Chairman Tom Haworth says the club started in the 1970s with an under-17 team and an under-13 side. We just built and built with more and more youngsters, he says. Now they have more than a dozen junior sides and eight teams playing at senior level - all with considerable success in cup and league competitions. Playing members total an impressive 250 with another 150 as social members.
Theyve not just been building teams. Years of fundraising has resulted in the completion of a stunning new clubhouse which has cost 125,000 - not just a brilliant new facility for the club, but an asset to this attractive Ribble Valley community.
Some of the cash came from grants, some from local businesses and individuals. But an awful lot was because of sheer hard work by members, says Tom Haworth. People talk about the Big Society - weve been helping ourselves for years. The search for funds continues as they gradually fit out the new bar area.
Now, they are looking forward to the highlight of the season. The Crusaders is a touring team from Australia, set up to get former elite players and umpires involved in the development of young cricketers. The ethos is all about improving playing standards and promoting a spirit of fair play.
The Crusaders are in great demand on the rare occasions they come to the UK and Longridge managed to secure a match against them thanks to local businessman and committee member Nick Gale.
After playing at Lords, the Crusaders - complete with a Test cricketer or two - will be heading north to play Longridge on July 1 in a T20 match.
Social secretary Dave Fisher said:
Its great for the club. They are elite players, many playing in premier league team so they should batter us. But theyre not used to our pitches so anything could happen.