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Stewart helps out rising Netherne

Alec Stewart Netherne NatWest CricketForce 2007

Alec Stewart assists Netherne's Macs Hafezi with the painting of the pavilion

Former England captain Alec Stewart paid a visit to village club side Netherne CC during NatWest CricketForce weekend.

With preparations well under way for the club's inaugural season in the Surrey Downs League, the ex-Surrey star was able to discuss the club’s ambitious plans for the future with the members, once he had managed to prise them away from their tasks.

Alec Stewart Netherne NatWest CricketForce 2007

Alec Stewart hands over a signed Surrey bat to Netherne team captain Jon Alexander and fixture secretary Tony Dann

The club captain and League representative were busy preparing the outfield, the team captain was rolling the square, whilst the treasurer and secretary were up to their elbows in whitewash, readying the sightscreens for the new season, which begins with a home fixture on Saturday April 21.

Stewart declared himself to be extremely impressed with what he saw of the club and was delighted to hand over a bat signed by the county squad: “Netherne have recently signed up to Friends of Surrey scheme and it is evident why this village side has been so successful in recent years.

"The square is in outstanding condition, the pavilion is comfortable and well-resourced and the members are clearly passionate about their cricket,” added Stewart, who was also present as ECB launched NatWest CricketForce 2007 at another Surrey club, Shepperton CC, on Friday March 30.

Netherne’s rise through the ranks has been a rapid one: in 2001, the cricketers of Cheam Parish & Sutton Baptist Church moved to the picturesque surroundings of the Netherne countryside. So began the most successful period in the club’s history and, in 2005, the team adopted the name of its new home.

The club blossomed, securing the Wey Valley Cricket League title in both 2005 and 2006 before gaining membership to the prestigious Surrey Downs League, thus guaranteeing an exciting future.

Team captain, Jon Alexander, explained: “The tiered structure of the Surrey Downs League will provide Netherne CC with some exciting challenges in the next few years. Our standard of cricket has improved in recent times and we look forward to continuing that progress in 2007, whilst at the same time expanding our social membership and activities."

Fixture secretary Tony Dann, the team’s prolific opening bat, is also the head groundsman and can often be found tinkering at the ground at the weekend. He has had some difficulty obtaining away fixtures. “The opposition always want to come and play at Netherne.” he explained. “For many, playing here is the highlight of their season.”

Tony’s pride in his work is reflected by the support of opposing players and it was no surprise that he was nominated by a number of rival clubs for the award of ‘Groundsman of the Year’.

Whilst the last couple of years have been highly successful, this popular club has no intention of resting on its laurels. An innovative social membership scheme has been initiated, encouraging villagers to take an active interest in their club.

A successful season in their inaugural season in the Surrey Downs League will speed up the club’s goal of running a second Saturday XI. There are also ambitious plans to provide cricket for local youngsters, thus cementing the club’s place at the heart of the village.

Netherne CC is a friendly, family-orientated club and runs a Saturday league side as well as a Sunday friendly XI.

Players currently attend midweek and Saturday nets at the Stewart Cricket Centre, Ewell. If you are interested in joining Netherne CC, as either a playing or social member, please contact:

Jon Alexander (club captain): 07966 413168 or
Tony Dann (fixture secretary): tonydann_ncc@yahoo.co.uk