Dereham, Bradenham and Mattishall relish local rivalry in Norfolk Cricket Alliance

DEREHAM, Bradenham and Mattishall are looking forward to a summer of derby duels as the Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division One gets underway this weekend.

Following Dereham's promotion as champions of Division Two last season, the mid-Norfolk trio are pitched together in the same division and the local rivalry provides some added spice to the season.

Bradenham, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, have already got some points on the board after making an early start to the season at Horsford A last weekend.

The match was eventually wiped out by rain, but the two sides meet again in the reverse fixture at Bradenham on Saturday. Chairman Tim Evans said: 'We have lost two excellent young players in Lewis Denmark (who has joined Swardeston) and Brett Stolworthy (Vauxhall Mallards). The team nevertheless remains a mixture of youth and experience and the spirit within the dressing room under Mark Hunter is excellent so everything bodes well.

'The A team will hopefully hold their own in Alliance Division Five while we wish the B team – which will be stocked with promising young players – well for their inaugural season in Division Seven of The Norfolk League.'

Dereham kick off their campaign at Bradfield, with skipper Duncan Hewitt making survival the priority for his side, particularly as three teams are likely to face relegation this year: 'Our goal is to stay in this division and build, we cannot sit on our laurels,' he said. 'Seventh and above is a must, the pressure is on us from the start as we are new to this division.'

Hewitt added: 'Unfortunately in the past Dereham have lost all their highly rated youngsters with the temptations from other clubs – this is something we need to stop in order to progress further.'

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Dereham's second team, who play in Alliance Division Six, have a new captain this season, with Phil Milbourne taking over from Ian Clarke, who has stepped down due to work commitments.

The third team, who play in West Norfolk League Division Four, will be led by Neal Widdows.

Dereham received a boost over the winter months with the award of a �9,200 grant from Sport England for new covers and sightscreens. A further grant from the ECB and Breckland Council will be used to buy new equipment and the scorebox has been refurbished with help from Jewson. First Call Glass have supplied a new window and the club are also planning to apply for a grant for new practice nets.

Chairman Neil Irons said: 'From the last ball bowled last season we continue to get Dereham CC back to where it belongs. Our ground looks superb, our winter nets were well attended and the dedication of members shows the club is now taking shape.'

Mattishall achieved their highest ever Alliance finish – fourth in Division One – last season and they will set about building on that success with a home match against Swardeston A on Saturday.

Chairman Keith Hudson said: 'With no significant change in playing strength we are hoping to emulate if not better last year's position.

'We appreciate this will be difficult to acheive particularly with two strong teams being relegated from the Premier Division and two very capable teams being promoted. With three teams being relegated I suppose to maintain our Division One status would be an achievement and the same goes for the A team who have been promoted to Division Five of the Alliance.

'We have some very good young players who hopefully will have improved on last year so the future is looking sound, given the fact that four of our young players achieved their Level One coaching badge this year which is good news for the future development of the club.

'We have attained ECB Clubmark status this year so we have to maintain and improve our standards in the future.'

n Dereham under-13s are in urgent need of players for the new season. The first game is next Wednesday and anyone interested can contact Neal Widdows on 07429 106386.