Tillside CC – growing through community engagement

Tillside CC is located in the picturesque village of Etal, which is located 12 miles from Berwick in Northumberland and is living proof of that village cricket is alive and kicking.

Steve Nutt, Junior Cricket Co-ordinator, and one of the main drivers behind the club’s success explains: “I sometimes get asked, how do you get so many children to come to Tillside CC?’ For me it is very simple. If we develop and maintain a positive and welcoming environment at the club, and encourage an atmosphere which welcomes the whole family, and not just the boys and girls who want to play that day, everyone wants to come back next week. We want our club to still be here in the years to come.”

The club has now 3 adult teams, and thriving junior sections of some 100 young people with boys and girls teams at Under 9, 11, 13, 15. and 19.

Teams play in a mix of competitive and development leagues which ensures that everyone can get a game in an environment and at a level which suits. As the club says ‘we will find a way for anyone who want to play a game of cricket.’ This is why they attract players from a 20 miles radius and more.

Steve expands: “We now have in excess 80 kids down here on Friday night, so the place is heaving. We even have had to move the U15 training to another night, and stagger the training times as they club was getting too crowded – a nice problem!

We do not view progression as a cricket player as a means in itself, but more as a way of extending people’s potential. We want our club to have fun in and around the game of cricket – that is the most important fact of all.
Whether you want to just keep playing cricket at whatever level, leave Tillside CC to play at a higher level, progress into coaching, or just enjoy the social aspects of the game, we will support people in whatever they want to do.”

Fresh flowers in the ladies toilets
Steve says: “I did attend one workshop delivered by Svend Elkjaer of Sports Marketing Network and he gave me the idea of putting fresh flowers in the ladies’ toilets.
I put a vase with fresh flowers out there and when they withered, somebody replaced them…wonderful. Being a welcoming club becomes part of the club’s culture.”

A female-friendly club

“By attracting more female players we are helping to make the club more family-friendly which is also helping us to attract more volunteers,” tells Steve Nutt.

“To the young people and especially girls, we are trying to promote the sessions as a keep fit and social activity more than ‘just cricket’. At our next session we will we will exercise and train to music – the younger player’s music, not mine, I hasten to add.“

Tillside have had several girls playing in county U15 age group teams, and one even played for the full county ladies team as a 15-year-old last season. They have also been taking teams at Under-13 level to compete in festivals at Corbridge and Alnmouth, Newcastle, and beyond – three years ago the U13 team got through to the ECB Lady Taverners finals at York

As Steve admits “It is all hard work, but as we get better at this, we are attracting more and more volunteers from within the club, and the workload is increasingly being shared.”

We enjoy a good relationship with other local sports clubs from rugby, hockey and netball, and some of their players have come and played for us – we have even played a netball match against the netball club – unsurprisingly we were well beaten!

Working in 13 schools

Working with cricket charity Chance to Shine, Tillside CC delivers cricket in 13 local schools, Key Stages 1,2 and 3, and also in a special needs school.Last year we delivered over 480 hours with our local schools through this scheme, which for us was fantastic.
Steve Nutt explains: “Supported by Northumberland Cricket Board our coaches have a strong relationship with local schools and we are trying to get as many young people into the game as we can. By having a person from the club coaching in the school, it encourages better links between the pupil and the local clubs. We feel it’s important that the person who gets them into cricket in school is the same friendly face they see when they come to the club. We also have Buddy system, so new young players are looked after by a Buddy at training who is already a club member and can show them the ropes.”

A new pavilion

Tillside CC was as far as anyone can tell 125 years old in 2014. In 1981 some members renovated an old chicken shed and converted it into a highly serviceable pavilion, which did sterling service for over 30 years. But the burgeoning membership and the needs of the leagues the club played in demanded upgraded facilities, and so it was then decided to try and raise £150,000 towards a new pavilion. The club’s efforts working in womens and girls cricket were key in securing a grant of £100,000 from the ECB, but Steve also praises the role of the local funders and wider community in helping realise the money needed for their pavilion. Especially the wider community of former members and players who helped them raise themselves a staggering £18,600 through the huge efforts and good offices of one prominent former member, Sir Michael Blake.

The new pavilion was opened by Allan Lamb in May 2014 and no doubt it will be a great home for this thriving village cricket club for many years to come.

19 T20 and an adult Sunday team that plays a number of friendly fi

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