Bognor’s DIY army play innings of their life

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You’ve heard of cricket’s Barmy Army – what about the Bognor Army?

More than 200 volunteers – including England players past and present – turned out to transform Bognor Regis Cricket Club for the new season.

The day, a major part of a nationwide Cricketforce scheme run by the ECB and backed by NatWest - was hailed a great success and included a new Cricketforce record being set as a team painted more than 200m of fencing – 98 panels – in 22 minutes 15 seconds.

Other jobs included installation of an electronic scoreboard and scorer’s hut, new umpires’ changing areas, landscaping work including the planting of new trees plus general tidying-up and renovating of the club inside and out.

Ex-England captain Mike Gatting was a popular draw, as was pace bowler Chris Tremlett, who helped England retain the Ashes in the winter. Sussex and England women’s cricket ace Holly Colvin, who comes from Middleton, was also there to lend a hand, as was former Sussex spinner and ex-MCC present John Barclay.

Sussex seamers Chris Liddle and Jordan Rollings also helped out.

Bognor CC chairman Bernard Burns said: “It was a fantastic success and has given us a huge lift for the new season.

“We had 240 people there at the height of the day – everyone from family and friends of players to youth football members, schools, sports leaders and girl guides.

“And we had great support from local firms and suppliers of materials.”

Organisers reckoned the volunteer effort resulted in about £60,000 of work being carried out.

And Burns said the effect could last a long time: “I’d expect us to have a number of people wanting to join the club after taking part and having so much fun,” he said.

“In the 1970s we were one of the top clubs in Sussex and that’s what we want to be again.

“We’ve a strong squad and almost all of our first and second teams have come through our colts. The Cricketforce weekend can only have helped us in our aims.”

Tim Shutt, Sussex Cricket Board development manager said: “It was a truly excellent spectacle. To have so many members of the local community gathered together to improve the facilities at the town’s cricket club was great to see.

“Furthermore, as is the essence of Cricket Force, there is no doubt that many of the new faces will choose to be part of this great family club for years to come, whether it be in a playing capacity or helping out behind the scenes.”

Bognor play their first friendly at their Hawthorn Road ground this Saturday, a fortnight before their Sussex division three west campaign begins.

STEVE BONE