Up North-West tales of hard drinking and heated discussions long into the wee hours are legendary and it seems not much has changed. Certainly the occasion is a good opportunity to acknowledge the best performers in a public forum and to show that the social side of cricket transcends everything. Where better to bury old sores than over a pint at the annual dinner?
The NCU broke new ground this year with their venue at the Holiday Inn and in their choice of guest speaker Gerry Donnelly from a GAA background. Both were resounding successes and Gerry was a positive step away from the long list of overpaid poor-performing cricketing has-beens that have bored us to tears over the past decade. Well done the NCU!
Sadly the NCU night was also a time to reflect on the absence of Bill McCarroll and while the officials did their best to organize and administer the dozens of little details that go into making such an evening a success, Bill's absence left a huge void across the entire proceedings.
The numbers have also reduced significantly and while the presentation of trophies should always attract winners, it was embarrassing that some clubs didn't even send a representative to collect their trophy for winning a competition. Some others had token representation so obviously there is some PR work to be done to return to the halcyon days when numbers were twice as high as this year.
In stark contrast clubs like CIYMS and North Down came in strength and while both had plenty to celebrate, the occasion is much more than a platform to receive awards it is a social gathering where cricket can be put into perspective and everyone can enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship that sport offers.
The NCU AGM was a quiet affair with the major change being the new administration structure. This is another positive step forward and while the annual dinner may be well down their list of priorities, the new committee would do well to liaise with clubs on the best way forward for their social showpiece or there is a risk of it going into serious decline.
That would be very sad for local cricket.