Victoria Park Community League aiming to attract new teams for 30th season
- Credit: Archant
The Victoria Park Community Cricket League is going from strength to strength, with plans afoot to mark its 30th anniversary at the heart of the amateur sports scene.
Formed in 1987 to provide people with access to competitive cricket, the league provides the perfect opportunity for those of all abilities, and games are still being played in a friendly and welcoming spirit.
Technosys and Millwall were the respective winners of League One and League Two last season, with Shadwell winning the cup, and the league’s secretary Gary Horsman is keen for the competition’s landmark year to be marked in style.
“Next season will be our 30th season and we’re actually looking for a couple of extra teams for next year,” Horsman told the Gazette.
“Each year we’ll have three or four drop out, and two or three come in, so there’s always turnover. It’s not a question of expanding but rather getting back to our optimum of 24 teams.
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“We started off with about 10 teams at Victoria Park doing eight-a-side, and we’ve slowly built up to 24 – in fact, we had 28 at one point.
“We have three matches an evening throughout the season at Victoria Park, three or four nights a week. It’s quite a full-on thing.”
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Horsman, who liaises with the fixture secretary and ensures all the equipment is accounted for, has also been in charge of Homerton CC for all 30 years of the league’s existence, and they remain ever-present alongside Old Fallopians.
The adult competition runs from the last week of April to mid-August, with divisions, but the format is subject to change depending on the number of sides that enter.
“It’s a mixed standard,” continued the 58-year-old. “We get some teams that are very good, so we try to make sure even if they’re up against a lower-standard team that it’s a good game. We like to structure accordingly.”
The league runs like a Conference at the start of the campaign – teams have to qualify for the second part of the season, with 16-over games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and sometimes Thursday.
Horsman added: “Last year we had three groups of eight in the first half of the season, which were mixed ability groups. In the second half we had four divisions – a Premier League, a lower league and then two second and third divisions.
“We try to discourage very, very good teams from playing! There are lots of opportunities out there so we don’t want county league players to be in a team.
“We want a situation where if the bottom team in the league comes up against the top team, there’s some sort of realistic chance of a good contest. You don’t want to see a team getting smashed out of the park by semi-professional players.”
Horsman, who was the league’s inaugural chairman, has served as secretary for the last four years and is also assistant coach for the Hackney Disability Cricket team.
As the league heads into its fourth decade, he is determined to make this year’s competition one to remember.
“The league will run a committee in February to decide how best to commemorate the anniversary,” added Horsman. “We haven’t got plans at the moment, but there’s definitely scope to do something.
“After games about 24 people a night go to the People’s Park Tavern (on Victoria Park Road) near the playing fields. There’s great camaraderie that’s been built over many years.
“We’re all about equal opportunities. That’s the sort of ethos we try to encourage throughout the league.
“The aim will remain to get a bunch of guys who, for example, went through university together and want to continue the sport, or work teams and things like that.
“There are about four exceptional teams but the rest can all give each other a decent game. Last year went right down to the wire for the championship, so hopefully it will again.”
New teams can enrol by logging on to the Victoria Park Community League website (www.vpccl.co.uk/).