Thursday, 20 March 2014

Aspire, Achieve, Advance - a perfect fit for Derbyshire

The news that the County Ground will be known, for the next three years at least, as the 3aaa County Ground is new territory for the club and further indication of the professionalism with which it is now run.

The 'three-a County Ground' - which is apparently how it should be verbalised - will bring the club a six-figure sum over each of the next three seasons and helps to narrow the financial gap between Derbyshire and more affluent counties.

It will be a mutually beneficial deal, of course. The club will take on four apprentices from a company that has grown into the biggest apprentice provider of 16-18-year-olds in the IT, social media and accountancy sectors in the country. The company will also get new marketing opportunities and their name taken to different environments, as well as fostering links with the club's 1870 Business Club. There's also the sight of T20 replica shirts being worn with their logo, as well as by the players on the pitch.

Derbyshire get money that they have never had before. While the role they will play in the development of young apprentice talent is important, £100,000-plus per year into the club coffers represents extraordinary work by Chris Grant and Simon Storey. There was no way that such investment in the club would have happened in the era before Mr Grant's tenure and it is further vindication of the club's Board structure enabling us to move forward as a professional business.

I don't envisage any outcry over the change of name, such as happened when Pride Park became the iPro Stadium, as there's little change to it. Even if it did, as we've seen around the world, money talks and lucrative sponsorship deals overcome any misgivings over longstanding names.

The closest Derbyshire have ever been to a three-a County Ground was pre-war, when supporters who enjoyed the grittier side of batting spent time anticipating Albert Alderman. Today's announcement is fantastic news and should be treated as such by supporters.

Thanks to 3aaa for getting involved and I hope that this is the start of a long and successful partnership. Given that they are joining forces with the club at the start of a period that I see as being potentially the best in our history, there is much to look forward to on both sides.

Finally today, the news that the club will have a designated Autograph Zone at the close of play in matches is another very positive step, as is that of players potentially joining in games on the outfield.

When I was a youngster - and yes, I can remember that far back - one approached players with a degree of trepidation with autograph book in hand. Some were amenable, others less so, a few were downright hostile. It shouldn't be so, as for many the request for autographs goes when they leave the first-class game. Professional sports people are admired and envied in equal measure and while there will always be those who acquire autographs for personal gain and resale, others just like to have them as mementos of their heroes.

I've previously recounted how Graeme Welch took my son's autograph book into the Derbyshire dressing room when he was a young lad (my son, not Graeme...) and inspired his subsequent interest in his career. I am sure that the players signing for young and old alike will keep in mind the fact that their signature on a book, a bat or a bit of paper could be the catalyst of a lifelong interest in Derbyshire cricket.

As for players joining in games, I well recall hitting tennis balls bowled at me by my Dad in the hope that a Derbyshire player might see me from a pavilion window and marvel at my polished technique, such as it was in my formative years.

Years later, the technique is much better, but I'm unsure that I could handle Mark Footitt, even off a short run and armed with a tennis ball...

Maybe I could go down the old Brian Close route and chest them down, like he did when facing Wes Hall, Michael Holding and the other West Indian expresses.

I'll chuck the chest pad in the car boot, just in case...

1 comment:

Huw Lloyd said...

Fantastic news for the club, a great deal and impressive piece of business. 6 figure sums for the next three years is a massive amount of money to a club our size.

On the autograph front I agree what a great move. Notts do the same down the road and it is great to see the players engage with the supporters.

I collect Autographs, not for personal gain, but purely for the fun of collecting. It has often erked me that the club of whom I have the least autographs is my most local. I hope after this season that will not be the case.