Howzat for a rebirth?

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HERE’S some news to bowl you over – the legendary Wednesday Cricket Club, one of the city’s great sporting sides of the 19th and early 20th century, is to be reformed more than 85 years after it ceased to exist.

The club, perhaps now best known for the football side its players set up as a winter pastime, is ironically being reconvened by Owls fans looking for a summer hobby.

They’re big boots to fill of course – after being founded in 1820 The Wednesday CC were so good they soon became one of the county’s most widely respected amateur teams and provided two English players for the first ever Ashes series in 1877 – but new chairman Neville Wright reckons they can be a success.

“We’re offering the chance to play for a club with an absolutely massive history and connected with Wednesday,” he says. “That has to be a boyhood dream for hundreds of people in Sheffield so we’re sure we’ll be able to get a good team or two together.”

There’s no doubting that big history, of course, but why bring back a team which played it’s last game – at Bramall Lane no less – in 1924?

The answer, it seems, lies in the Sheffield Wednesday FC’s recent financial difficulties.

Before new chairman Milan Mandaric rode to the rescue, fans had formed alliances to discuss ways of saving the club. Amid the talk, says Neville, was a constant reference to its history.

“People kept saying it was a shame the cricket side no longer existed so a few of us got together and made it happen,” says Neville, an Owls season ticket holder for more than 50 years. “It’s been like pushing against an open door. As soon as we said we were doing it, people have wanted to be involved. There’s a romance to it all. This is breathing life back into something that was special and which even all these years on still resonates with sports fans in the city.”

A committee was formed by four life-long Owls fans – Neville and son Michael, 33, of Woodhouse, Scott Rowlinson, 36, of Darfield, and Glen Dawson, 51, of Derbyshire – and a constitution drawn up. The football club has even let the group use Hillsborough for meetings, and a first general meeting will be held in mid-April.

Then, on May 1, the club will play its first games in 87 years. The friendly against Thorncliffe in Chapeltown will raise money for both clubs and Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“We’re hoping Michael Vaughan might attend,” says Neville, 60, of Lodge Moor. “He’s a Wednesday fan so fingers crossed.”

The club will then play every Wednesday in the Sheffield Alliance Midweek League – so chosen so football fans wouldn’t have any Saturday fixture clashes when the soccer season resumes in August.

Their home ground will be the Abbeydale Sports Club, in Abbeydale, with the first league match scheduled for May 4. We’re just hoping plenty of people come down – we’re sure they will,” says Neville.

- Training sessions are being held every Thursday evening at Goodwin Sports Centre, in Crookes, Sheffield. All abilities welcome.