Bowled out for 98 but still surviving in spirit . . .

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THE Doncaster and District Cricket League celebrated its 100th birthday a few days ago.

Although the Doncaster League has not functioned for two years, former chairman Maurice Gilliatt told The Star this week that it has not formally folded.

“We are hoping to finalise the closure of the League at some function or other when Malcolm Driver finally completes the book he is writing on its history, and when we can combine the two,“ he said.

“There are still finances and accounts that have to be finalised, plus we still have monies in the Herbert Foster Scholarship account which we intend using to continue to send Doncaster-based young players on coaching courses in the close seasons.

“So we will just about make 100 years even if we haven’t played any matches under the Doncaster League title this season.

“The very first and last matches played in the Doncaster League was between Hatfield Main and Brodsworth Main - who had remained members throughout - and I had the honour of being one of the officiating umpires in the last match.

“It was very sad having been involved with the league for over 30 years, first as a club delegate for Barnby Dun, then a member of the management committee and for the last 10 years as League chairman, to see the league lose clubs.

“It was once reputed to be the biggest league in the country with over 100 teams, but it had fallen to just over 25 when we decided to the pull stumps for the last time.

He added: “Something had to be done to keep cricket alive in the area, hence the amalgamation with the Sheffield League who had gone through the same decline losing clubs for one reason or another, to form the South Yorkshire Alliance, of which I am chairman. The two leagues have gelled and players have relished visiting new grounds and pitting their skills against new players.

“Unfortunately, this season has been one of the worst we can remember for matches being called off through waterlogged grounds. Players and umpires alike have been frustrated at the lack of games, but this seems to have been the norm throughout the country.

“Certain clubs have found it more and more difficult to field sides, especially if the club has two teams, and this has meant quite a few matches have had to be conceded.

“Unfortunately, Grimethorpe folded half way through the season due to the lack of players and that left other teams in Grimethorpe’s respective divisions without a match on two other occasions apart from those affected by rain.

“With only a hand full of matches left, Kilnhurst have done the double beating Wath 3rds in The Billy Oates Cup final at the weekend and finishing top of the Premier Division. The Division Three title has also been won by Whitley Hall Colts, but other divisions have still to be decided.

“This season several of the umpires who umpired in the Doncaster area have travelled to grounds in the Sheffield area, I being one of them. It is hoped that more Doncaster umpires will do the same next season and some of the Sheffield umpires will visit grounds in the Doncaster area.”

Former England opening bat, Chris Broad, now an international match referee and father of England fast bowler Stuart, will be the guest speaker at the League’s presentation evening in October.