Another North East Premier League season is complete and another season where the League lacked umpires or one reason or another and regrettably there was not one Saturday when two umpires stood at all games. Sadly Division Three bore the brunt of the shortage and I even had to delve into Division Two from time to time to spread the load. My thanks go to all umpires who found themselves umpiring alone, not in my opinion an enjoyable experience.
The season began to take shape in early February when the appointments went out to all umpires and having recruited well things looked rosy. New umpires came on board some from other Leagues, others from the Sunday League when others were promoted to stand in the Premier Division. However we were to lose Michael Wood and Paul Haley for the entire season the latter I am pleased to report has been back umpiring following a non fault car crash just before the season started and so the first of the changes took place with 11 not available for the first Saturday.
Graeme Burn left us before half way through to pursue his life long ambition to travel in his newly acquired long boat, Greig Taylor only stood in 6 games due to work commitments, Andy Unsworth followed the same pattern, Bill Ryan had health problems, happily resolved and so with 53 active umpires, I need 46, numbers dropped so drastically that I made over 450 changes from the initial appointments but we got through despite many umpires having either back trouble, pulled muscles or work changes and of course holidays. I did release some umpires to carry out umpire assessing and others for Minor County duties where they travelled on the Saturday.
On the plus side we now have Ian Warne and Alan Clark standing in D list games and we are very hopeful that Brian Morris and Jeff Marshall will follow. Both Jeff and Brian are retained on the Minor Counties list. Whilst Jeff also stood in the National finals so well done to those umpires. Peter Gardner is re-joining us from next season and 4 other umpires have asked to come aboard while Greig Taylor is now available. So who knows what might happen but I remain forever hopeful but several of us are getting no younger and one or two carrying aches and pains so we do need more umpires but then so do all the other leagues. We are better off than most and this is general throughout the country.
Paul Jordison is the Chairman of the ECBACO who meet at Burnmoor every third Thursday through out the Winter months but not well supported by our NEPL umpires so please try and support the branch.
The new Laws will be rolled out in the next few months and Keith Sutherland and his band of tutors will have their work cut out to get all these new courses up and running. Sadly the ECBACO have decided in their wisdom to change many of the courses, purely I fear, to justify jobs and frankly why we all agreed to let them have their own way is beyond me but we were fed the wrong information before voting.
So up and away with whatever happens in the new season, changes may be a foot especially in the lower divisions, to try and improve interest or the number of forfeited games will I fear get worse.
Thanks to all my umpires who are really a pleasure to deal with and travel anywhere without grumps, but a new season to look forward to.
All the best.
North East Premier League