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Paul Stafford

County Armagh

18th Nov 2007

I wish to set the record straight regarding Ivan’s comments. I'm pretty sure they are not tongue in cheek. I want to respond to the accusation that I have a negative attitude to progress at the club. When I took over as club captain in 2005 the club was in real disarray. Finances were poor, functions were hardly ever arranged let alone supported. We had an ageing team and nobody coming through. Our youth section had 40 to 50 kids and had played only 2 proper fixtures the year before. A number of us got together who wanted to make a change for the better. We decided to build from the bottom up. Every single member of the committee now has a specific role to play and a responsibility such as finance, functions, grounds, youth etc. Its not rocket science but it hadn't been done before. We sought out those individuals who would best fulfill those roles. Chairman Graeme Hunter leads the hardest working and finest committee I believe the club has ever had. The Youth section, led by Peter Maxwell and Niranjan Godbole, have taken the message into dozens of primary schools in the area. The Lurgan Tigers have been launched with the fantastic support of Euro Construction. We now have 130 'Tigers' enjoying cricket at our club. The U11s and U13s have enjoyed successes and 4 boys have all been selected for various representative teams. We have a lot more coming through. We have run 2 excellent club dinners now. (We hadn't one in nearly 2 decades). You can look up on our new website how much the Tigers enjoyed meeting Alec Stewart at our last dinner. The press coverage received from the Lurgan Mail, the Belfast Telegraph and CricketEurope has been excellent and I would like to invite The Ulster Cricketer Online down to Lurgan next year to see for yourself. Finances are good and we are grateful to all our sponsors particularly Abbey Insurance. Last year the 3rds were promoted. This year the 2nds won the Junior Cup for the first time and that only leaves the first eleven. Getting relegated has been a setback but it’s not fatal. When we get back up again we’ll be stronger. I’m not negative about that sort of progress. I’m proud of it.

clarence hiles

Barbados

15th Nov 2007

Just to follow up on Staffy's email let me say I'm one of those guys who support his involvement within the NCU 100% and I don't expect him to be anything else but himself in his new role. Change is the engine of growth and like many institutions the NCU needs change and people like Paul bring a free spirit to the table. We need a few more out there in there!

paul hatton

Dublin

15th Nov 2007

All quiet with you northerners recently until next year's fixtures were announced. I'm sure Brendan will be up in arms again but my only beef is why Stormont gets any fixtures after the poor attendances this year? Why doesn't Ireland play all the big games at Clontarf and let the NCU and North-West alternate with a game every year? After all most of the ICU members are located in Dublin, the biggest crowds attend in Dublin, and Clontarf does a great job in staging the games.
This is a business not charity.

michael patterson

Lisburn

15th Nov 2007

Staffy,
No need to re-invent yourself just make your points and others can make theirs. That's the beauty of the forum. There are plenty of people that will welcome your involvement within the NCU as you've got different points of view and will express them. But don't expect all the suits to agree with you and I'm sure big Ivan was 'tongue-in-cheek' about Lurgan's demise. But you'll be playing them next season so plenty of opportunity to make or take a point or two.

Paul Stafford

Co. Armagh

15th Nov 2007

Ivan McCombe

Thank you for those 'kind' words. To be honest I found them quite depressing. Nice to know that as an outsider you can sum up the situation at Lurgan and leave the blame squarely with me. I took the decision to get involved with the NCU after being urged to do so by Clarence Hiles, no less. It's good to know that the first thing that goes wrong in the NCU in 2008 that I can look forward to a personal attack from you.

Guys, I am passionate about cricket. I will argue my case strongly if I can but I'm not always right. I didn't think 2up 2down was necessary in Section 1. I still don't. However the general consensus is that it has been good for cricket in the NCU. I can live with that. I am not convinced paying players is a good idea but clubs are free to make their own decisions about it. I am not also trying to have it both ways. The 'value for money' line were YOUR words from the article. I was only trying to point out I have no problems with any of the individuals who are getting paid. I was horrified to think anyone thought I was being patronising. Like you said though time to move on.

ivan mc combe

Muckamore

4th Nov 2007

Staffy
You talk so much nonsense that I despair for what ever NCU directive that you have managed to get elected to.The negative attitude to progress probably justifies your honour of captaining Lurgan to the first relegation from the top flight in their history.I would imagime most Section 2 clubs will be hoping you are re elected in 2008. Five minutes from Clarence Hiles a thousand odd miles away is a bigger contribution than hours of this boring " dribble ".

Clarence Hiles

Barbados

3rd Nov 2007

Hi Staffy,
Great to see you back on the site and as feisty as ever!
However, I find your anti payment crusade is full of inconsistencies. You criticise clubs for paying players and yet Charlie is "value for money." Can you have it both ways? Also Charlie didn't miss out on too much in his career as he seems to have won every honour around. Still doing it too, so I don't think Laurelvale will back your argument.
As for Michael Reith's appointment we certainly disagree but don't dramatize the relegation in 1998 as the club folding as that's just as ridiculous as saying Lurgan are about to fold. Look at Reith's appointment with the benefit of hindsight and place it in the context of 27 years of North Down CC from 1980 to 2007 and you'll understand if not agree with our vision. It was a huge turning point in the club's history. On the comparison with soccer there is no comparison. Same as rugby as they are professional sports with gate money and high overheads. Some clubs are successful and some are struggling. The best run cricket clubs can accommodate paid players and also invest in their youth and resources but not every one does. It requires vision, plus good business and management skills, not from exceptional people necessarily, but people that love their club and their sport and want the best for both in that order! Yes, they may be insular but it's no accident that they are always successful.

michael patterson

Lisburn

3rd Nov 2007

Staffy, Nothing wrong with you having your opinion and holding it but does it have to be thrown up time and time again? Can't you move on? Write about something else you are getting boring. You won't change anyone's mind so you can forget about that. Club cricket is a selfish world and clubs make their own decisions without seeking any outside advice.
Also you want your cake and eat it! If you are loyal to your argument then stop patronising Charlie McCrum as he's the type of person you are critising all the time. As for exceptional players and exceptional people get real you are talking about local cricket not international politics!

Paul Stafford

Waringstown

1st Nov 2007

Michael Patterson
Regarding paid players. You might call it stirring the pot but this is an issue I think that has the potential to destroy local cricket. Let me say first and foremost I do not have any problems with any of the players who are being paid. Like any professional cricketer they see themselves as people who being rewarded for their talents. Charlie McCrum is a cricketer who has never done anything else but give 'value for money'. I have the utmost respect for him. I just happen to think it is a shame that he spent so many years out of the top flight because of financial reasons that he hasn't received the recognition he deserves. Clubs that offer players money will benefit in the short term. But we have enough evidence admittedly anecdotal, in the North West to see that this in the long term is detrimental to the game. This is an issue that I fundamentally disagree with Clarence Hiles. In the recruitment of Michael Reith he saw the North Down club as visionaries and anyone who felt uncomfortable with it lacked their foresight. Yet it appears to me that the payment of players almost destroyed the club in the late 90's. Cricket in Ireland is unsustainable at club level on a professional basis. For goodness sake soccer is unsustainable in Ireland on a professional basis. Far too many very average cricketers are being paid to play. Vital resources that could be used to develop young cricketers.

Michael, you are right. I may not be able to change it but if I can make club chairmen reflect sufficiently they may only make an exception in exceptional circumstances ie they only pay people who are not only exceptional cricketers but exceptional people.

michael patterson

lisburn

25th Oct 2007

Why does Alastair Bushe pick the NCU team of the year? Does this mean any sponsor can put up a prize and it becomes official? I haven't seen many compaints about the selections but surely it would be more authorative and meaningful if the selection process involved other cricket correspondents.

paul hatton

Dubliin

5th Oct 2007

Brendan, have to agree on your Belfast comment but taking top teams up to the North West doesn't make financial sense. your grounds aren't up to scratch and everytime somebody says that you all get annoyed. The NCU aren't interested because they play matches on the same day as internationals so come to Clontarf and enjoy yourself. Bring the wife and the kids and stay a few days. Lovely place.

Brendan

Derry

4th Oct 2007

How can anyone expect cricket followers in the North West to support Irish cricket when they don't get any of the top games?
What's the point in staging games in Belfast when nobody goes to watch?
We have great supporters and if you saw the TV coverage in the West Indies at the World Cup you'd have seen more people from the North West than Belfast and Dublin combined!

John V

Holywood (Co. Down)

3rd Oct 2007

Just read some of the nonsense being thrown about on Civil Service North about hosting internationals. What peole like Paddy O'Hara need to realize is that hosting any representative game is hard work for the members with no thanks. The ICU doesn't spend money on grounds or promoting cricket as they want everything for nothing. As for hosting matches in the North West get real, their website promoters can't even spell!
Give the matches to Clontarf and save yourself the hassle!

michael patterson

Lisburn

2nd Oct 2007

Good article on Charlie McCrum. Still a great player and still as competitive as ever. He could play for any of the section one teams except Waringstown as they never gave him a chance when he was there before.
All this fuss about paid players and people like Staffy stirring the pot will come to nothing as it has been around for years and will be around for years to come. Live with it Staffy and concentrate on things that you can change!

charles mccrum

Lurgan

2nd Oct 2007

Thankyou very much for your kind and honest comments on my cricket career. You could be a very good sport psychologist.
However, playing at Glendermott and North Down were just as much highlights of the season as scoring centuries. What was even more enjoyable was playing at Laurelvale with people like Wayne, Bruce, Noel and Paul whom I had mostly competed against in the past. To me that's a success story of Ulster Cricket.