Stow and Downham merge to mark a new era for cricket in West Norfolk
The merger of Stow and Downham Town Cricket Clubs marks a new era in the future of the game locally.
Both clubs have a long tradition of cricket in the area and have enjoyed healthy competition for many years.
Downham Town Cricket Club is one of the oldest clubs in the county, with its origins dating back as early as 1783 with games being played in the Lynn and Wisbech area.
Stow’s roots do not date back quite so far, with the club being formed back in 1991.
The green light for a new club to be born has been in the pipeline for some time following a pilot scheme four years ago when the two club’s shared a Sunday side.
A new constitution has been signed and accepted by the Norfolk Cricket Board.
Chairman Mike Fairey said the club – to be known as Downham Stow CC – would have greater strength on and off the pitch, with a clear pathway from the youth section upwards.
Downham stalwart Duncan Lanchester will take responsibility for the playing side of the new club while Mr Fairey will look after more of the corporate side and off-field matters.
Mr Fairey said: “Duncan (Lanchester) and I have spoken a little bit in the past about where cricket is going locally and I think that we needed to come together to offer a better package really.
“We can’t hide behind the fact that nationally recreational cricket numbers have been drifting south for a number of years and all clubs are lower in membership than what they were 10 years ago.”
Mr Lanchester added: “Both clubs want to play cricket at the highest level we can and by doing this we can do that.
“We are all going to be in this together and we can now offer different levels of cricket for all players.
“Most importantly, there’s going to be a clear pathway for all youngsters coming into the club.”
Both grounds - the Memorial Field at Downham and Stow Hall - will be used to field the different teams.
The senior sides will continue to play in Norfolk Alliance Premier Division while the junior teams will compete in both the West Norfolk and Cambridge Junior Leagues.
Looking forward, Mr Fairey said:”Clearly the ambitions are to challenge to be in the East Anglia Premier League in the next year or so.
“By bringing the best players from both clubs together should allow us to do that. Greater competition will enhance before performance and training, but it is also about offering cricket for all abilities at all ages.”
The club has been operating in this season’s Norfolk Cricket Board Summer League.
“We are where we are now as it has all gone very smoothly,” admitted Mr Fairey.
“Given that there has been a lack of league cricket this year, we’ve had that little window of opportunity and a little bit of extra time to plan.”