Hales and Loddon clubs agree to merge

The dawn of a new cricketing era is being hailed after Hales agreed to merge with neighbours Loddon, writes Milton Lindsay.

The green light for a new club to be born was given at “a very positive” meeting of Hales members at which it was unanimously agreed to accept Loddon’s approach.

Hales chairman Pete Dye said the club – to be known as Hales and Loddon CC – would have greater strength on and off the pitch, potentially paving the way for the step up to the top level of Norfolk-based club cricket – the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division.

“I would hope within the next five years that we can make the next step up to the Alliance Premier Division, which considering where we have come from will be mission accomplished.”

He added: “Loddon bring a lot to the deal, it’s not a case of us swallowing them up. Both clubs recognise that collectively they can be more of a force.”

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Dye admitted that 10 years ago the partnership between long-standing rivals would not have been conceived by either party, but times had changed.

“Hales have had some fantastic momentum over the last few years and it’s important that we don’t stand still because if you do there is a danger that you can end up going backwards.”

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Delighted Loddon chairman Andy Baker said: “We are extremely positive about the merger. I think everything is going to work out well.

“Together we will be able to further develop cricket in the area. Who knows what we can produce from the youth in the area.”

The new club will field three Saturday teams with the first in Norfolk Alliance Division One; the A team in Norfolk League Division One and the third team in Norfolk League Division Four.

The top two teams would be based at Hales’ new ground, with the thirds probably based at Loddon playing field.

There would also be a Sunday development side as well as a raft of youth teams at U17, U15, U13, U11, U10 taking part in a variety of events including the Junior Carter Cup and Alliance junior competitions.

The merger will increase the club’s playing strength, and bridge the current gulf between the first and second teams.

It will also bring an injection of experience, vital in helping the club’s talented youngsters to develop and fulfill their potential.

Last season Hales, after four successive promotions under the captaincy of Steve Rowe, finished a creditable sixth in their Alliance Division One debut season while Loddon had their best-ever season, and were runners-up to Winterton after their first-ever season in Norfolk League Division One.

Hales, founded over 50 years ago, joined the Norfolk League in 1984, and have made spectacular progress in recent years thanks to a strong youth policy and an industrious team behind the scenes.

After years of fund-raising the club began playing on its new ground on a seven and-a-half acre site at Hales Green last season. Plans for a �200,000 brick pavilion are in the pipleline.

Loddon were among the Norfolk League’s founder-member teams 40 years ago.

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