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Putting a ‘Springer’ in Newtown’s step

 
Created on 18/01/2011 @ 13:09
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Newtown escaped relegation from the Shropshire Premier League by the skin of their teeth last cricket season and it has forced a re-think at the club.
 
Now, they start 2011 with a new captain and new ideas that will hopefully return the club to one of the powerhouses of Mid Wales and Shropshire cricket.
 
Mynewtown caught up with the new skipper, Tony Springer, to find out what it’s all about...
 
So who is Tony Springer (right)?
 
I’m 40 years old and I’m a financial adviser. I’ve been playing competitive league cricket ever since I was 11 back in Essex. Way back then I ended up playing a couple of games for Essex U19’S before I joined the army. After leaving the army I played for a team in south London called Trinity CC until 1995 when I went travelling around the world. I ended up living in Australia for a couple of years and played cricket for a team in North Sydney which was a revelation in terms of how much better organised local clubs are out there and also how much higher the level of ability. Upon returning in 1997 I rejoined Trinity where my time in Oz paid dividends resulting in me scoring the club’s highest ever score of 188 not out and going on to Captain them to great success from 2000 until 2003. I met my wife (a Newtown girl) in 2001 and for a couple of years I played the odd game for Newtown whenever we came to town to visit her parents. I moved here permanently in 2003 and I have been with Newtown Cricket Club ever since.
 
Why did you decide to go for the captaincy?
 
For the last couple of years the club’s fortunes on the field have declined somewhat leaving us barely escaping relegation from the Shropshire Premier League last season. Furthermore, the club has lost a certain amount of its appeal as a venue for local people to want to come along on a summer afternoon and take a stroll around the pitch, watch some cricket and enjoy the facilities of the clubhouse all in a safe, friendly atmosphere. This is what prompted me to put my name forward as captain. I wanted to make a difference both on and off the field and help restore this club to its former glory.
 
What changes are required at the club and why?
 
We need to become more successful in the playing arena and we also need to create a welcoming atmosphere for both both players and spectators. We intend to have a secure area right next to the clubhouse where parents can allow their children to play with a wide range of toys. We also want to build a lively and friendly social scene at the club after the match has finished. We have a lovely bar with flat screen TV’s, plenty of seating and often lay on food for anyone who wants to stay and socialise. We hope that these changes will generate more interest in the club both in the form of more spectators and more sponsorship.
 
How can you attract more players/supporters/sponsors?
 
We have approached a number of local businesses for sponsorship. This funding will allow us to buy a bowling machine, a roll-on batting practice net and update a great deal of other equipment that needs replacing such as the sightscreens. Balls for the season cost somewhere near £500 alone. We hope that with investment from companies like Dyke Engineering we can improve our performance as a club and make the changes we hope for. This will in turn reverse the downward spiral we’ve got into and make the club successful again by attracting new players and their families who will want to play for a friendly local team with some of the best facilities in the area. Businesses willing to sponsor us will benefit from advertising around the ground, ads in our glossy newsletters and will be invited to a number of functions throughout the season as well as the end of season presentation evening. They can either contact me directly on 01686 631150 or speak to any member of the club who can pass their details on to the committee.
 
What does 2011 hold for Newtown CC?
 
2011 promises to be a much better season. We have the return of the devastating all-rounder Michael Bellamore to look forward to and we have a number of exciting junior players like David Laird and Sam Cooke who have made the step up from second team cricket and are now hoping to make a name for themselves in the first team. Some of our top order batsmen, namely Steve Davies and Richard Smout, were in great form at the end of last season and we hope they can continue that into this year. Craig Davies with his unerring accuracy and searing pace bowling will continue to be a valuable asset. Again, with the aid of new equipment and the help of our team of qualified coaches we can only improve on previous years performances.
 
Are you concerned that not enough youngsters are playing the game?
 
Playing cricket in schools has suffered a decline over the last couple of decades. However, whilst we could never hope to compete against the popularity of football and rugby we have managed to successfully build up a very popular Junior Section at Newtown Cricket Club. Every Monday evening during the season under the supervision of qualified coaches, up to 40 children come along and have loads of fun learning the skills required to turn them into the Kevin Pietersens or James Andersons of the future. Last year some of our youngsters were even selected to play for Mid Wales.
 
Can the Ashes success help promote cricket locally?
 
The recent victory for England in The Ashes and continuing success of our 20twenty team obviously raises awareness of cricket in general which can only be a good thing for any cricket club. I think what will be more beneficial in promoting cricket locally however, is the Cricket World Cup being held in South Asia from February until April. The end of the competition, hopefully with England victorious, will coincide with the start of our season and maybe some people will be inspired to come along and have a go. We would also especially love to hear from any women wishing to play, as women’s cricket is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and it would be fantastic to have a ladies team here at Newtown.
 
Any news on facilities/equipment?
 
We are waiting for quotes from local firms to provide us with a roll-on batting practice net and we have figures for a bowling machine at roughly £2,000. To repair the sightscreens could cost hundreds of pounds. Unfortunately without the support of local residents and businesses these could all remain a pipe dream. Some of the players will be giving up their own personal time in order to maintain the ground and the wicket as well as donating toys for the children’s play area. Others with trade skills help the club by making repairs wherever possible but it is an ongoing process.
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