Adwalton found things tough in their first season in the Conference League in 2016 recording just three wins, but made a marked improvement last season with nine wins, taking the club to a respectable seventh in the table.
It would be fair to say that Matthew Donohoe was the shining light in their two seasons, topping the batting twice and promising even more in the future.
Paul Bennett acknowledges his worth, “Matthew is in his early twenties and has been opening the batting, but is probably better suited to the middle order. He started as a junior with us but when he didn’t have a team in his age group to play in- moved to Gomersal before coming back to play senior cricket with us. He lives next to the club and is on our committee so consequently he is a really good clubman as well. Hopefully as he gets older he will be a little less impetuous as he should score even more runs than he has”.
Like most clubs, Bennett takes a prudent long-term view of the ambitions of his club, “As the 2017 season came to a close we took the opportunity to review where the club was both on and off the field. We had to decide what we wanted the club to look like in 5-10 years time.
Unfortunately we can’t make our ground bigger, but we do know we want to play the best standard we can and also build the strongest foundation possible.
Ideally we want to try and get to a point where we can field three senior teams, but first and foremost we want to make sure cricket is played at our club for a long time to come – sounds straight forward but as recent events have shown at Idle and Brook Walton it isn’t.
We believe a strong junior section is the key to this, and we certainly wouldn’t have been able to field
two teams every week last year if it hadn’t been for our U17 team. The forthcoming season will see us build on a lot of hard work done last year specifically by Simon Lindsay and Chris Priestley. They provided training sessions for the local primary school and organised the ECB All Stars event which saw us gain 26 new children at the U8 age group.
In addition, we have paid for three senior players to go through the ECB level 2 coaching course. This brings the total coaches to five at this level. Having enough kids now to run All Stars U9, U11, U13 and U17 teams next year means we have made a positive start. The critical part is getting as many through to senior cricket as possible making the investment in coaching a no brainer”.
Another decision the club made was to ensure that any overseas signing would need coaching badges so they could put something back into the club and help it continue to move forward.
Improvement in facilities is key to driving a club forward and Adwalton have not been lacking in this respect. A new artificial practice wicket laid was laid in 2017, followed by new (and more) covers, another bowling machine, a new bowdry and a new batting cage in 2018.
Having done a full refurbishment and extension to the bar area three years ago the club is looking to make further improvements in 2018. They intend to refurbish all of the upstairs of the club house and improve the umpire’s changing room, kitchen area and also enlarge the changing rooms allowing players to directly access the balcony.
Bennett said, “We are very fortunate in having a thriving bar and we think £2.20 a pint probably helps. Also, we are lucky to have a lot of members who volunteer their services to enable us to continue improving our club at a fraction of the commercial cost”.
Bennett said, “The First Team won seven games in the second half of the season, with two of their defeats very close affairs. Considering the average age of the team being in the low 20’s, and four of the regulars playing U17 cricket, it wasn’t a surprise that we could not always play to our full potential”.
Bennett realised in the close season that experienced players needed to be recruited to nurse along the young rookies. Eyebrows were certainly raised when news of new signing Gareth Lee was tweeted through. Lee played a major role in Scholes promotion to the Premier League last season, taking 44 wickets, and also scoring 388 runs. But, it’s the experience of capture Ryan Robinson that might well set off a new renaissance at the club.
Bennett said,” We couldn’t be happier to have got Ryan Robinson on board as first team captain for next year. His impact is clear already- not only the two new signings (Gareth Lee and Adam Campion) for our first team, but also the buzz it has created around our club, and within the league. Just as positive has been the fact that Ben Garner, Gareth Kitchen and Matthew Lyles are also returning after sabbaticals which will add strength in depth to both our senior teams.
We are still keen to hear from any players/juniors wanting to play for what we regard now as a forward looking club with a positive friendly environment. Our senior nets startrd at Woodlands on the 15th January (7-8) for those that might be interested.
The other positive from persuading Ryan to join us is what he brings to the table off the field
after his experiences at Scholes as Chairman of Cricket. His knowledge and involvement will be
invaluable as we look to achieve Clubmark during 2019”.
In an age when volunteers at grassroots clubs are thin on the ground, Adwalton are fortunate in possessing eleven from their playing strength who are acting committee or club members. If they gain Clubmark it will put the club very much on the map and it will be emphatically down to the hard work of volunteers.
As Bennett admits, “None of this work would be possible without a very active and supportive social membership, our sponsors and the drive of the current playing staff. This is where our strength as a club comes from and we are certainly very grateful for all of their support in driving us to the next level in 2018 and beyond”.