On Friday night, Kirsty and I travelled across to Abbeydale for Collegiate’s season launch event in their impressive new facilities.It was a dull and not particularly warm night, but our first impression was of the sheer number of people there – I had not seen the car park so full since a county championship game in 1995. There were All Stars, juniors, and the womens’ team all engaged in practice of one sort or another. I did not realise this till later, but the presence of Joe Root had probably swelled the attendance! 
 
A hive of activity – Abbeydale on a Friday night 
The old and the new at Abbeydale 
The first person we saw on arrival was my old friend and YSPL Hall of Fame inductee Bill Croft, who is now back living in Sheffield. Bill was telling us that he went to watch the game at Field Lane on the previous Saturday, but missed the famous win as he had to be taken to hospital with abdominal pains. Thankfully, he was sufficiently recovered not only to be present, but to have a pint of beer in his hand! 
 
We were welcomed by chairman Richard Ibbotson, who is guardedly optimistic about the team’s prospects for the season ahead, and met up with Matt Root, who divides his time between Sheffield and the Desert Springs complex. Having fond memories of the Abu Dhabi trip for the first White Rose Yorkshire Premier Leagues final in 2016, I would love to see a future final, possibly in 2020, out at Desert Springs. I remember umpiring Matt on several occasions in the old Yorkshire League, as well as standing in a game at Doncaster when his two sons opened the batting for Collegiate and put on over 200 for the first wicket with a century apiece. We all know how much Joe achieved since then, but I am also delighted to see that Bill has made such a fine start to his Glamorgan career and wish him the very best for the rest of the season. 
 
We met David Longley, another former Yorkshire League cricketer, who is now the chairman of the South Yorkshire Cricket Lovers Society. I was introduced to the society by my former umpiring colleague Brian Whitehead – they have some excellent speakers and only distance of travel prevents me attending regularly. 
 
I did not get chance to look at the new dressing rooms at Abbeydale, but if they are of the same standard as what we saw of the rest of the new 
 
The beer obviously agreed with me, because I had some ideas that could help our clubs and meet some of our ECB priority areas at the same time. I have been providing the website developer with some material for the new site, and I think that we should have a ‘getting involved’ page. This will include information about All Stars, junior and womens’ cricket and at the same time encourage people to get involved with their local club, whether to play, score, umpire or help at the club with one of the many jobs that our clubs depend on volunteers to do. This would fit with the ideas that Gareth, Steve and I have discussed for the appointment of a League Participation Manager, who would be responsible for what we do as a league in this respect. We need to get the participation message across as widely as possible, so when we make our appointment, I intend that we issue a press release with suitable photos and quotes to generate maximum publicity. 
 
The examination season is upon us again and I was back at the university yesterday. I shall be fully employed for most of May now – certainly when you add in cricket and rugby work! Jolly Boys outings will have to be put on the back burner until June now! 
 
The old and the new at Abbeydale On Saturday, I will be popping into Doncaster during the afternoon for the game against Collegiate. At this early stage, it looks like an important game and I look forward to it. 
 
From there we go on into Barnsley where Kirsty is meeting relatives, and after a fish & chip tea I may find my way up to Woolley for a pint. It isn’t such a bad life ….. 
 
Till next week, 
 
Roger 
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