Training with the best
ELLESMERE Port’s players have been shaping up for the new season with winter nets at Lancashire’s Old Trafford ground.
Skipper Gareth Boys, who guided his team to the Cheshire Alliance Division Two title last year said: “The facilities there are the best there is. It was well worth booking them. It’s not too expensive, and we’re fortunate to have such good facilities so close by.”
Boys put his contacts to good use to secure six winter sessions at the Manchester venue, starting in January. He works as a PE teacher in Northwich and has occasional dealings with the Lancashire Academy.
More recent indoor sessions have taken place in the less glamorous surroundings of Ellesmere Port’s EPIC leisure centre, but Boys has been encouraged with the number of players turning out. A squad of almost 40 will compete for places in the Port’s first and second teams.
All the main players from last season’s championship-winning first XI will return as the Port look forward to playing in Division One of the Cheshire Alliance for the first time in four years. The aim is to win promotion to the Meller Braggins League – a level the club has never played at before.
Port won 12 of their final 13 matches to secure promotion, with bowler Dwayne Bernard taking 77 wickets for the season.
A handful of new players have joined the club with all-rounder Tom Mitchell – signed from Mold in the North Wales League – expected to go directly into the first XI. Port open up at Rylands this Saturday.
In Division Four of the Cheshire Alliance, Capenhurst host Rylands 2nds this Saturday.
Groves eye mid-table
GROVES skipper Mike Garvey believes his side can handle life in a higher league.
After strolling to the Cheshire Alliance title last season, the Ellesmere Port club won promotion to Division Three of the Meller Braggins League.
Groves, relegated from the Meller Braggins in 2008 when they were known as Castrol, begin this season at Sandbach this Saturday.
Skipper Garvey said: “After last season and the way the squad is shaping up, anything less than mid-table would be seen as a disappointment.
“Training has been going really well and the squad is improved from last season, with the younger lads having that extra bit of maturity which will help them cope with the Meller Braggins League.
“It will be a shock to some players as they were so used to winning last year and it will be far more difficult but we know what to expect.
“It helps us that we have quality players returning in Martin Flanagan and Paddy Hickey, who will certainly add to the squad’s quality.”
Groves have seen major developments off the field thanks to investment from sports grants, with the building of a new scorers’ shelter, roll on/roll off net cages and buying pitch covers.
“To get that kind of investment is great as it helps us try and compete with the established cricket clubs,” said Garvey.
“We are just the cricket section of a sports and social club and we are competing against fully fledged cricket clubs so we do extremely well.”