GLOUCESTERSHIRE Growlers – the county’s blind cricket team – have won their first League title.
Just six years after forming, the side cruised to the Blind Cricket England and Wales South West Regional championship following an unbeaten campaign.
The team, who play home matches at Hatherley and Reddings CC, won four games and picked up two winning draws to finish 17 points ahead of runners-up Kent Spitfires.
The League title builds on the Growlers’ growing success, which included finishing runners-up in the Twenty20 Cup last year.
Marc Gulwell, the club’s founder, says the victory was a dream come true.
‘When we set up the Gloucestershire Growlers six years ago I often dreamed of lifting the League trophy but I never actually believed it would happen,’ he said.
‘Back then, during the embryonic stages, it was difficult enough finding a team of seven! However, after five years of competing and countless hours of tireless effort from all involved, I am proud to say, we did it!
‘As founder, I am extremely proud of the efforts of all involved, not just today but over all of the years we have been playing.’
Blind cricket is played with a size-three football filled with ball bearings. The wicket is larger than in sighted cricket and the ball must bounce twice before reaching the batsman.
The Growlers play in the second tier of blind cricket, one level below the National League. Their opponents this year included teams from Kent, Surrey, Berkshire, London, Hampshire and Dorset.
Despite the euphoria of winning the League, the Growlers’ success has been marred by the death of two squad members during the season.
‘Sadly this season both our club captain Terry Richards and new recruit Andy Dales have both joined the pavilion in the sky,’ said Gulwell.
‘Despite this overwhelming sadness, we are very proud to dedicate the League win to them both.’
Next up for the Growlers is their Twenty20 Cup semi-final against Dorset today at Hatherley and Reddings. The match starts at 1.00 pm and support would be most welcome.
The Growlers are hoping their success may help encourage more players or volunteers to get involved.
‘Our great season has left us hungry for more success next year and beyond,’ said Gulwell.
‘To anyone who is blind or partially sighted and looking for a new challenge, why not get in touch with us.
‘Blind cricket is a great sport to play, it’s competitive but friendly.’
If you are interested in playing or volunteering, please e-mail Gulwell on: firstname.lastname@example.org