Northern Ireland Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers

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Best day of the year?

For a variety of reasons, Saturday 12th September turned out to be one of the most enjoyable days I had during the long 2015 season.

Was it the best game ? - No, it was a 20 over match 2, Was it the top flight ? - No, it was section 1. What was so special about it then ?

It may not have been a battle of big hitting pro v big hitting pro and it may well have been an end of season game but there was certainly no mundane end of the year "lets get this over with feel about" Donaghcloney v Cliftonville on that date as it mattered greatly for both teams. The winner survived, If Cliftonville lost they would be relegated, if Donaghcloney lost they could have been relegated

Bit of pressure then on the teams and official alike.

What made this special for me was that it was a throw- back to the good old days of a game being played in brilliant spirit. Regardless of the stakes for each of the participants, to the neutral, this could have been a game played at anytime of the year.

For those of us who study the weather closely during our season you may remember that the days leading up to the 12th were very wet, none more so than the Friday when it rained relentlessly. As one of the appointed team to stand that day, obviously I kept my phone close to me that night and into the next morning awaiting the inevitable call from the Hon. Appointments Secretary to stand us down. The call never came. Why ? - well, the visiting team the next day were the ones who had to get on the field, complete at least 5 overs per innings and - oh yes, win. Anything less and Cliftonville were down.

Arriving at the beautiful factory ground (for the first time since 1982!) I was pleasantly surprised to see activity on the square from the Donaghcloney staff - activity that I believe started approx. 730am! Bearing in mind that if the game was abandoned, the slim chance of the 'cloney being relegated would have been totally moot, it was refreshing to see so much effort being put into playing the game.

As it turned out, there was absolutely no need for the officials to make a call as the ground was completely fir for play and that is what the two sides did, played cricket. It also attracted quite a decent crowd as matches nearby had already fallen victim to the previous days weather.

Whilst the result was disappointing for Cliftonville, the spirit shown by both teams during the 40 overs of this match was a credit to both clubs.

After a long and sometimes testing season, it was a pleasure to officiate this match and has me looking forward eagerly to the end of April 2016 so we can start all over again

Gary Blair