The fact that cricket clubs are nothing without families was never better proved than by this year’s Family of the Month competition. In association with Clydesdale Bank, The Cricketer asked people to nominate the families who were going the extra mile to make cricket work in their area. The response we had was exceptional. In total, nearly 100 families were put forward – each of them instrumental at one or more cricket clubs.
In the end, the winning families were deemed the most exceptional: the Astons, with 16 relations actively involved every week; the Rafiqs, who founded a charity to help underprivileged cricketers in their area; the Fanthams, whose association with their club dates back to the 19th century; and August’s winners and 2011’s Family of the Year, the Birminghams.
The Birminghams are in many ways the traditional club family, with mum, dad, son and daughter busily making sure junior cricket at Newton Hill CC runs smoothly. The difference is that until this season, junior cricket at Newton Hill didn’t exist. Dad Lee decided to found a section when his son Thomas began to show talent with bat and ball and asked if he could join the local club. Within weeks, Lee had recruited enough juniors for two teams and started on his level 2 coaching badge. Meanwhile mum Julie, with help from her daughter Abigail, was raising money for a portable net facility.
But the end of the summer doesn’t mean that the family can take a break. To keep Newton Hill’s new recruits interested during the football season, winter training starts long before Christmas and will continue until the 2012 season starts. And, swelled with confidence, the club is now trying to raise as much as £100,000 to build a new pavilion.
Elsewhere Lee’s parents, Peter and Carole, have paid for caps for every playing member of the junior section and the tuck shop run by Julie and Abigail has continued to raise enough money to help buy more coaching aids and grounds equipment. Newton Hill now has some 40 junior members and will be running an additional colts team next year. Some 75% of those schoolchildren had never played cricket before. But arguably the Birmingham family’s biggest cricketing success is that 40 new juniors provide a host of new families to keep the club ticking over.
“I don’t mind doing it all because Thomas enjoys it so much it’s easy for me to be there lending support or running things,” says Lee. “You’d do anything for your kids but what’s been good is that the whole family has got involved. The families have driven things this year. And hopefully that’s given some longevity to the club.”