Spotlight shines on Bury juniors

First published in Cricket by

LANCASHIRE’S cricketing “OSCAs” may not boast the glamour attached to its Hollywood namesake, but Bury officials will be no less proud to walk down the red carpet at this year’s awards ceremony.

The club is one of three nominees in with a chance of winning the LCB’s annual Outstanding Services to Cricket Award.

More than 900 people are expected to attend the annual awards night at Old Trafford on July 19.

Bury will have two tables of proud representatives there on the night waiting on the outcome of the award, which is linked to work done with Natwest CricketForce – aimed at promoting the game in local communities.

For people like junior co-ordinator Paul Belston, it will be a special moment for the club, whatever the outcome.

“Just to get nominated is fantastic,” said the 47-year-old father of junior players Jordan, aged 16, and Lleyton, 10, underlining the feelgood factor surrounding the club.

Bury have recently succeeded in constructing a gleaming new £100,000 pavilion thanks to the fundraising talents and generosity of members. And that positivity has been reflected on the field.

Last season, the 93-year-old club, captained by Paul’s nephew, Simon Belston, won the Manchester Association championship for the first time, before leaving to join the Bolton Association, in which they are fifth.

“We did not realise it, but the new pavilion has really put the club on the map,” said Paul.

“People now know we are here.

“We had a five-year plan to grow the membership, but it’s not easy for a club like Bury, which is really a town centre club. But the response among parents, kids and volunteers has been fantastic.

“It’s not uncommon to see youngsters vacuuming (the pavilion) after matches, their enthusiasm is so great.

“Mums and dads also regularly help out in the kitchen. It is a fantastic environment for children to be part of.”

Current membership is just below 150 and, as well as having a first and second team in the Association, Bury also have a third open-age team in the North Manchester League, and junior teams at under-9s, u13s, u15s and u18s, as well as two sides at u11s.

Bury have recently hosted trials for Lancashire as well as CricketForce events.

That all underlines Paul’s fundamental belief in the “spirit of cricket”.

“It’s not all about winning,” he said.

“It’s about getting children participating in the sport and us being inclusive.”

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