For the first time in the clubs’ history, Calmore Sports will be participating in this season’s Voenus Village Cup – the National Village Knockout competition – which kicks off its 50th year at the end of April.

The regionalised draw for the first round was made by The Cricketer editor Simon Hughes at Lord’s today (Friday March 5) and we will be making the very short trip to Knellers Lane to face local rivals, Langley Manor, on Sunday April 25.  Should we be successful, subsequent rounds will take place every other Sunday (May 9 and 23, June 6 and 20, July 4 and 18) through to the semi-finals on August 1 and a showpiece final at the Home of Cricket on Sunday September 19.

It is an exciting development for the club to join the other 346 clubs across the country all hoping for that magnificent day out that a number of Hampshire-based clubs have enjoyed successfully in the past, including Longparish in 1987 and Hursley Park in 1992 – the latter being a day that former Calmore batsman Clive Surry remembers very fondly as he was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 76 as they overturned Yorkshire side Methley in the Final 29 years ago.

“The National Village Cup gave me my biggest ‘five minutes of fame’ that I had in the game,” he remembers.  “That feeling of travelling up to London on the coach, staying in the hotel next to the ground and hoping it doesn’t rain – which myself and Martin Kellaway had extra reason to hope it didn’t as he was getting married on the reserve day and I was best man!!!

“At Hursley at the time, we had the mindset that there was no point going in for it unless you were fully committed to playing the games on the Sunday, as well as the Saturday, otherwise you won’t get out of the county rounds, let alone get to Lord’s.  You have to have that full first team commitment to it.

“If you can and you get to play at Lord’s, it is an incredible feeling and you just have to try and take it in, playing in front of a couple of thousand people.  You really can’t do much more in the game as a club cricketer, not in England.

“Winning the man of the match award in the Final was special – although I don’t think I actually won anything for it – but then had the worst two years of my cricket career before I was reinvigorated when I moved to Calmore and it is really good to see the club taking part in this competition because it is a great competition to be a part of.”

The decision to join this prestigious competition came after seeing fellow SPCL Division 1 clubs Sarisbury Athletic and Liphook and Ripsley perform superbly – the latter reaching the Final in 2018 – and club captain Mark Lavelle felt the club should try and follow in theirs and other Hampshire clubs’ footsteps.

“We are very excited to be participating in the NVKO for the first time as a club,” he said.  “It is a big competition which can be great for the club if you manage to progress through the rounds.

“To only be 8-10 games away from playing at Lord’s, every club cricketers’ dream, is a big motivation and with the amount of cricket we lost last summer, hopefully the boys will buy into the odd full weekend of cricket to give ourselves the best chance of getting as far as possible.

“Sarisbury and Liphook have done superbly well in the competition in recent years and they speak very highly of it and what it brings to a club if you do well.  So when we knew we could enter, it was an easy decision to make and hopefully we can emulate the successes they have had.

“We are really looking forward to April 27, which will be a momentous day for Calmore Sports as we head down the road to play our old rivals Langley Manor.”