Oldest swingers in town? No - happiest Swingers in the Slam
Let me set the scene. I’m in the Waterside pub in Shoreham on my birthday in December 2019 after having a cricket net with a few friends at the county ground in Hove.
We’ve got the beers in and there are no masks, social distancing or the slightest inkling of what’s to hit us in 2020.
Continuing the evening, we monopolised the pool table while the Albion v Palace game was on TV.
Talk turned to how good it felt to whack a few balls on a wet Friday night in Hove and how we’d all like to play a bit more cricket. “Well chaps, I may have a solution to that!” I said.
Sussex were looking for teams to enter anew midweek competition. The Sussex Slam. Everyone nodded their approval and as we chatted about the idea, talk turned to what we’d call ourselves.
I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head... Shoreham Swingers! I was not expecting it to go any further than a slight giggle, but ‘Yes Bandy, perfect, all agreed,’ – I choked on my San Miguel!
Within days, we’d paid the entry fee, set up a WhatsApp group and convinced any dormant or virgin players we knew to join. The Sussex Slam organiser hit our logo brief out of the park once they’d stopped laughing.
More net sessions at Steyning Leisure Centre followed and we were building up a decent group of athletes (ha!) when the ‘first innings’ of lockdown began! It was all over, or so we all thought. But during the lockdown, we won our first award - in the Twitter Battle of the Logos, which kept us all engaged.
The cricket season arrived but Boris was citing the ball as a natural vector for the disease, while other sports ventured into their new normal.
A sniff of hope came and finally, cricket was green-lighted for a return from its Covid-19 delay. We played our first Sunday game against Henfield CC on the other side of the downs and were narrowly beaten by a strong line-up.
Then it was on to our first Sussex Slam match at Wish Park in Hove against the Portslade Pirates. Now, the Slam is cunning in its make-up. It’s designed for speed, with no faffing about. There’s not much travelling involved either as you’re grouped with the closest teams.
Yes, it’s T20 but there are corners lopped off so you can squeeze in a few beers after games. The shortened season was a success and we played at a really good level in all but one of our games.
Since the action ended, enthusiasm among the Swingers hasn’t waned. Before lockdown’s second innings we were practising in groups of six at Henfield Leisure Centre. Music blaring and plenty of tip and run to keep the fitness gains from the summer. With any luck, we’ll get these going again soon.
The banter on the WhatsApp group is still going strong and I dread to think how many messages have been sent on it (I’ve asked myself a few times if a group admin can mute themselves!).
It’s been a busy time for the Swingers, securing not one but two shirt sponsors, which I’ll come back to. We held off getting kit in the summer so we all looked a bit raggle-taggle with a variety of old whites.
The Slam organisers set us up with a kit supplier based in Pakistan - and they’ve designed a fabulous looking kit for us. Calcutta 16, an Indian restaurant in Old Shoreham, have sponsored the front of our playing shirtsm, which considering the pressure hospitality has been under, is remarkable in itself.
We’re grateful and so glad we can partner and promote a local business in these difficult times.
Our second sponsor fits our team name and humour to a tee - it’s another local business but e-commerce this time. Again, we’re grateful that LovingJoy.co.uk have agreed to sponsor the back of the shirt and one of the sleeves too.
One of our newest players works for them and has indicated that they’re also happy to supply a player of the week award, which should make for some interesting after-match social media posts.
You can keep up to date with all our news on our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. Search for Shoreham Swingers CRICKET.
In October the Adur Cluster of cricket clubs, wubs and Wandering sides formed. The goal is to get Buckingham Park facilities up to a level that will mean Adur clubs can host neighbouring teams in Shoreham-by-Sea. Please get in touch if you can help us realise this goal in any small or big way.
We’ve bought the domain name and should have a site up and running before the 2021 season begins.
You can also check our official results on shorehamswingers.play-cricket.com
It’s been the shining light of the year for me and all the players.
With regular news of male suicide rates increasing and mental health affecting families, this is the sort of adventure that looks set to keep our wellbeing secure into 2021 and beyond.
Want to come along to a practice session? You can contact us via the play-cricket website or via a direct message on any of our social media handles.