The nationwide ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) T20 Cup competitions always represent the promise of achievement and adventure for Scottish junior club cricketers given that the format extends far beyond Scotland and down into all the various additional corners of England and Wales. It is with this in mind that the Grange U15 squad agreed their season targets for 2017. The Boys and Girls wanted to have a lot of fun again. They wanted to do their very best in the two available Cup competitions and retain the Scottish Cup and ECB Scottish Cup titles that they had won in 2016. Specifically though they wanted to progress again beyond Scotland in the ECB competition and travel to play teams from south of the border. Over 1,700 clubs from all over Britain enter the ECB U15 competition with a promise of glory and becoming the best team in Britain. In 2016 the Grange 15’s got as far as the Final of the North Group where they lost out to the Yorkshire Champions in what was effect a National Quarter Final. A last 8 game. The squad made themselves a promise that they would work hard at their game over the winter and do even better in 2017.
Domestic victories over local rivals Carlton and then Stewarts Melville enabled the junior Stags to progress to the Scottish Finals Day at Stirling. Old friends Clydesdale were beaten as well as Falkland and Grange retained their Scottish ECB 15’s title. Now the real journey could begin as that was the last of playing on Scottish soil. Grange were away from home thereafter. First up, the Durham Champions, Hetton Lyons. Great game. Good win. Then another day, another wee trip to the North-East to play this time the Northumberland winners, Alnmouth & Lesbury. Again another car/train journey and another win. 3 days later in between a Regional game back at home and National games away from home for some of the team the Grange team travelled to York CC to play the North Finals. Last 16 game against the Cheshire Champions, Alderley Edge. Win. Last 8 game against the Yorkshire Champions and our hosts, York CC. Good team.
Several standout County starters for the White Rose and the hurdle that Grange had fallen at the year before. Former Scotland Coach (and Grange player) Jim Love came down to watch the final with his Yorkshire CCC and York CC coaching hats on. So did the England Football Manager, Gareth Southgate, whose son was playing for York! Grange chased down 168 with 3 overs to go. What a win. Our hosts were gracious in defeat and genuine in their praise for how the Scottish team had played. Now another road trip. This time the squad had at least the luxury of a week to plan logistics, alter holiday plans and reassure themselves there were no other diary conflicts to manage. Now last 4 in Britain.
Impressive organisation by the ECB saw the Finals Day played at Rugby School in Warwickshire where the team had an enjoyable stay the night before. We were made welcome by the School Director of Cricket, Mike Powell, a former Grangeman and Warwickshire CCC Captain and well known to Cricket Scotland.
Match day saw the Boys greeted by boundary advertising, music in between balls, a DJ announcing the players, lots of spectators and complete new sets of super smart coloured playing kit. The players knew all about pink balls by now. Past and current England players, Mike Gatting and David Willey also attended all day and mixed with the Boys. The sun shone and it was a special day. So to the Cricket. Last 4 game. National Semi Final against the West Champions, Exmouth from Devon. Very strong team. Grange held on in a nail biter and won by 3 runs. Wow.
National Final. Last 2 in Britain against South Champions, Guildford. Good fielding performance on a flat wicket. 132 to win. Great start. Got close, couple of run outs and Grange finished just short. Few tears amongst players and supporters before a bit of reflection enabled the disappointment to turn to immense pride. Massive achievement for a Scottish Club team to finish second in Britain winning lots of friends and admirers along the way. The players were a credit to their club and their country and acted as true ambassadors showing the vibrancy of the game north of the border.
Ultimately in the 2017 ECB U15 cup season the Grange team played 10 rounds of Cricket. Won the Scottish title, the North title and having won 9 games lost the last game to finish runners up in Britain. Outstanding. Miles travelled; 1,671…
Amazing support from the players and their parents and lifelong memories for all involved. Of the 15 players who represented Grange in the ECB Cup this summer, 13 took part in the Grange Academy programme 16/17 directed by John Blain. 10 went on to play for the Eastern Knights and 4 were part of the successful Scotland 15’s that won the Celtic Cup and their County Championship Group Title. Great squad with some real talent. Some season and some achievement. Well played!”