As I write my annual report, the rain continues to fall as it has solidly since early Friday morning and with the very wet Winter, this could cause some concern with the season due to start in 7 days time.
To put it mildly it has been a long and busy Winter with lots happening. Several of us finished in early December with BUCS and Durham Cricket Board games plus our colleagues in Northumberland have been umpiring indoors at South Northumberland throughout the Winter. Jordan Montogemery Else also spent some time umpiring in Dubai in the Emirates Arch Trophy, where he was appointed to stand in the final. Well Done to Jordan.
Managed Migration took up most time with various discussions culminating in points deduction for the clubs concerned, points being taken off last season’s totals.
The shortage of umpires throughout all the Leagues are also a worry and we have lost Gordon Halliday, due to taking over as Chairman of Northumberland CCC and we wish him and the County Club well for 2018.
Phil Clayton has also decided to call it a day for this season due to work which give him little time to enjoy time from work, Scott Hanson now works at weekends and Tony Shields has commitments as a Committee man at Whitburn. Tony, will however, still be umpiring on Sundays and all cups.
Once the Whitburn situation is sorted I am sure Tony will return as he is a well-respected official.
Sadly, in this day and age work commitments take over leisure time. Some of our senior umpires have retired in George Russell and Bill Oswald and George Thornton has returned to the NTCL. Andy Unsworth now works away from the North East.
On the plus side I am always willing to give new umpires some games to gain experience and I am forever thankful towards the Durham ACO instructors for bringing these new umpires the knowledge that they will need to progress in the game. To this end we are in a position in having two father and sons umpiring in the NEPL surely a rare event in umpiring. David and Richard Martin, David from our main sponsors the Banks Group, joins and stands in Division 3 fixtures on a Saturday, Midweek and Sunday League games but always with an experienced official.
Ed and Adam McLeod also come in on the same basis as the Martins and we also have taken on Stephen Mordue from the old Northumberland League plus Tony Naylor from the old NTSL who joined us late last season. We wish them all well and I am sure all of our officials will give them as much help as they need.
Further good news is that Brian Morris and Jeff Marshall are now Level 3 qualified , following sucsfull presentations at Burnmoor Cricket Club over the winter, Brian and Jeff were allowed to plough on to reach their goal. Brian was also promoted to be added to the D list and Jeff will be given two day games involving University fixtures. We now have 4 D list umpires and 2 MCCA umpires which is great for the League.
On the debit side, the sad demise of Seaham Harbour has resulted in over 80 changes in appointments with those umpires missing out being re-routed elsewhere or taking games in the Durham Cricket League Northumberland and Tyneside Cricket League (NTCL)
Division 1 will be a very hard league this year with clubs looking over their shoulders as relegation is still upper most in their minds. Clubs are being asked to vote on one of three proposals affecting relegation and promotion and a narrow decision looks certain. More information will follow on this soon.
Allan Blackbird has now given in to knee trouble and has decided to have an operation as it not only prevents his golf swing but playing snooker with Brian “the dancer” Heaton. Allan will be out for two months and we wish him well.
My thanks also to Keith Sutherland, Jack McGurk and John Crockatt who ran all the Law Education courses especially this season with the new Laws to be taken in. Sadly, clubs had a very poor attendance and as usual umpires will need to explain these new laws. 95% of our umpires attended the two courses in Durham and our Northumberland friends proceeded to put on 5 courses spread throughout the county. My thanks to the two local branches.
I only hope now that we can get on with the season as appointments took over 100 hours this season. All the fixtures which I posted to WTU and completed all the appointments only to be told that the fixtures were incorrect. I started again only to be stopped as the second batch were wrong. Thank heavens for tipp-ex!!
Finally can I wish all umpires in the NEPL the very best of luck and surely the weather has to improve!
NEPL Umpires Coordinator