It takes a particular brand of moron to repeatedly vandalise a cricket club, over and over, mindlessly seeking to destroy the hard work put in by volunteers and the local community.
In the case of Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club (KECC), based on Queenswood Drive in Headingley on the outskirts of Leeds, there’s been a depressing groundhog day feeling to way their club has been targeted.
It’s a cricket club with a long and proud history dating back to 1853 when a group of young men from the Kirkstall Educational Society, a literary club attached to St Stephen’s Church school, struck upon the idea of starting a cricket club.
Every cricket club out there likes to reference their history whether it’s on-field success or famous players of the past, present or future – and why not.
KECC can point to the fact that a duo of quality, first-class cricketers started their careers at Kirkstall.
Bill Bowes turned up in 1927 as an eighteen year old before he was to embark on a county career with Yorkshire that would net him 1,639 first-class wickets.
The professor-like Bowes, towering at six foot four with trademark spectacles; picked for fifteen Tests by England and was part of the battery of fast bowlers on the 1932-33 Bodyline Ashes Tour of Australia.
Meanwhile, James Derek Love, known to everyone as Jim, was a prominent player for the Kirkstall juniors in the late sixties and would go on to score 10,355 first-class runs for Yorkshire.
Embedded in the middle order and a powerful driver of the ball, Love famously blocked out the final ball of 1987 Benson and Hedges Cup Final to secure victory for Yorkshire, by virtue of losing fewer wickets.
To give you an inkling of what Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club are going through – they were burgled no less than eight times during their 160th anniversary year in 2013.
With the help of various grants to help cover and offset their £10,000 worth of losses, extensive security measures were put in place.
They were even filmed for the BBC’s programme Break-in Britain which, for once, is timely in that it will be broadcast on Tues 14 October, BBC1 at 11.45am.
But now, they are reeling from the latest incident that saw six windows all smashed in on the evening of 23 September.
We’re talking battering through toughened glass repeatedly to finally break through each window with a brick; not enough to gain access and steal anything but to satisfy a destructive motive that’s impossible to understand.
Sadly, cricket club vandalism and theft is nothing new; Golcar Cricket and Bowling Club off Swallow lane above the Colne Valley have also been hit in the last week.
Graffitti artists have slapped slogans over the pavilion, fences have been ripped up and holes gouged into the bowling green turf for good measure.
Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club have sought to bring in funds to safeguard their facilities and one of those vital fundraisers is this coming Friday 10th October at Headingley.
Billed as ‘An Evening with Stuart Lancaster and Jason Gillespie,’ the three-course dinner in the Long Room of the East Stand (*changed from the Premier Suite) really is a corker.
All monies raised go to KECC and rectifying the latest frustrating setbacks. So, no paying players or frittering the proceeds of this event, just the bricks and mortar (and possibly infra-red, night-cameras) needed to keep a step ahead.
I get a lot of requests to promote club cricket events across the county through Cricket Yorkshire.
Being a website that deliberately focuses on the people in professional and amateur cricket rather than short news or announcements, it’s not possible.
Or, in fairness, what I want Cricket Yorkshire to be.
But support of grassroots cricket has and always will be a core part of what the website offers (plus there’s always other ways I can try and help like business contacts, social media etc.)
So why KECC?
It resonated because vandalism and theft continues to be a blight in local cricket and anything to highlight that issue and at the same time help a club in some small way made a lot of sense.
They have two notable stalwarts who come to mind to mention in Chairman Nick Davis, heavily involved with Leeds Bradford MCCU and David Hodgson, President and a respected local groundsman.
Good people; you know the type as there are thousands across the UK all doing great work; aptly enough in a week where it’s the NatWest OSCAs to celebrate volunteers in cricket.
So…hard sell-time. Why should you invest what is, let’s call a spade a spade, a not inconsequential amount of your time (Friday evening) and money (£55 a ticket or £500 for a table) to come to Headingley out of season?
The chances are that you’ll have your own interests and loyalties in cricket, probably locally and this is the time of year for league and club dinners, never a cheap time.
But, you’ll be helping a cricket club that needs a leg up after this latest galling incident but just as key, it’s very, very good value.
How often do you get the chance dine out in style and hear from not one but two world-class sports coaches?
For individuals or businesses in Leeds and West Yorkshire (and those farther afield), it’s an event that holds tangible benefit.
As part of the KECC fundraiser, Stuart Lancaster, the England RFU Head Coach, will be giving a talk on Building a Team & Leadership.
He will give an insight into the unique methods he has put in place to regenerate the England Rugby Team, showing how these methods can be equally applied in education, business, politics and in smaller cricket, rugby and other sports clubs – followed by a Q&A session.
Also on the evening’s entertainment is none other than Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s First XI Coach, who’s doing a Q&A session with Dave Callaghan of BBC Radio Leeds.
I’ll leave you with a trailer for the forthcoming BBC programme, Break In Britain, which features Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club.
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