Our journey began with a “Cricket Force” event based around the BBC television programme Ground Force which encourages businesses and communities to get together and make a difference. Cricket Force is intended for cricket clubs to “do up” their grounds ready for the summer season. Maybe the sightscreen needs a lick of paint or the hedges need a quick trim. Possibly the roller and the mower need to have their oil topped up. For the YMCA cricket section a more fundamental approach was needed. Everyone knew that the old ground at Llwynarthen had some lovely aspects and nobody knew better than Roger Coombs how hard it needed to be worked to keep it running. But the intervening years since cricket was last played in 2002 had not been kind.
The buildings were dilapidated, the hedges were overgrown and the weeds and brambles were everywhere. Cricket Force saw the entire membership come together to work hard on building and painting picket fences, making paths, decorating buildings, trimming, digging and cutting.
Ken Mitchell, the driving force behind the development, persuaded local businesses to provide work and goods for nothing and one or two celebrities popped along to lend a hand including Mike Gatting, who is as handy with a paint brush as he is with the Willow.
Suddenly Llwynarthen came alive once more and by summer’s end we were witnessing the noble art of cricket once more, now and then even in sunshine!
In total we have an under 9s side, three at under 11, another three at under 13 and two at under 15. On top of that we had four adult sides playing Saturday league cricket, at least one on a Sunday playing friendlies most weeks and a mid-week league side too.
In local schools our Chance to Shine programme is hugely popular giving children from state schools the opportunity to play and be coached in cricket. In total we reached out to nearly 200 children in primary and secondary schools to give them the chance to play. Many of these children came along to Llwynarthen later in the year to take part in festivals and tournaments and several chose to join the cricket club.
We have also arranged tournaments as part of the Lisvane and St Mellons Festivals. Once again the club reached out into the community to encourage children who had never had the opportunity the chance to take up the sport.
Meanwhile at Llwynarthen we were planning. We had already obtained grants from the ECB for an artificial cricket pitch and a diesel powered roller. Now we turned to the run-down, sad, old buildings in the corner of Llwynarthen to see if money could be raised to make them habitable once more. Off the back of our OSCA-winning CricketForce event we approached the England and Wales Cricket Board for loans and grants to rebuild and refurbish the clubhouse and changing rooms. At the turn of the year we heard that we had been successful and immediately work commenced. Over the next four months the changing rooms were demolished and in their place rose an extended cricket pavilion with plush, modern showers, a clubroom for cricket teas and social events and a fully equipped kitchen. A machine shed was also built to house our new equipment and all was made ready in time for the start of the new cricket season.
Planning for the future remains our main priority as we look to improve still further on the facilities and increase the size and breadth of the cricket we can offer. New coaches are always needed to run new sides at youth level as we seek to make the most of the wonderful cricket ground we have available to us. New membership is always welcomed regardless of background or ability and we have even had some tentative enquiries about establishing a ladies’ team.
Who knows what the future will hold?