Carlton-in-Lindrick have come a long way in a short space of time, much like their captain Matt Bateman’s journey within the Yorkshire Disability structure.
Carlton are a young club with a Sheffield postcode – S81 9QR to be precise – who play their cricket in the Bassetlaw League.
In fact, they are sailing through the divisions having got on a significant role since forming during the summer of 2020, right in the heart of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Yorkshire have a lot to thank the club for given they helped Bateman – now a D40 national champion less than a year after finding out he had a qualifying disability – regain a lost love for the game of cricket following a horrible cycling accident for his brother.
“My brother came off his bike in 2015 and was in a coma for four-and-a-half weeks,” explained Bateman, who is captain and administrator at a club based near Worksop. “He lost 20 percent of his brain.
“I was up and down to Bristol, where he was in hospital, through the summer and missed a lot of that season. My heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
“I’d given up and walked away from the game completely – all my kit went into the bin.
“But there was a Facebook post saying there was a cricket team starting from scratch at Costhorpe Cricket Ground in 2019, which is a 30 second drive from my house. I was like, ‘Oh I’ll go and have net’. So I did and enjoyed it, I played a game and enjoyed that too.
“It’s gone from there, and I’m back in love with the game again.”
This is a club which runs just one team and is yet to own their own ground.
“We formed in 2019,” continued Bateman. “The net session I went to was their first net session. We played a friendly against a Church side in that August or September and were supposed to go into the league in 2020. But Covid hit and everything went pear-shaped didn’t it.
“But we still managed to play a 10-game season amidst the pandemic.
“We won two out of the first three games and then lost seven on the trot. Still, we were up and running.”
In 2021, Carlton started in Division Six – the bottom tier of seven in the Bassetlaw League. The Championship is the top division. They won their league that season and did so again in 2022 (Division Five).
That brings us onto this summer just gone….
“We finished second and were promoted again,” said all-rounder Bateman.
“We’ve done really well to get to where we are, which we hope will be Division Three next year. That is unless they re-jig the divisions, which I’m hearing is a possibility as we are losing a few teams.
“We lost the first three games of the season, and had I won all three tosses we’d have probably won all three. But it is what it is.
“We needed to beat the third-placed team (Blidworth Colliery Welfare seconds) on the final day. They rocked up with four lads with plenty of first-team experience, and we bowled them out for 51.”
One thing is clear when talking to Bateman about Carlton is that there is a definite and significant togetherness at the club, no doubt forged in large part due to their success on the field.
“I would say we aren’t the best team in the league on talent, but I would say we are the best team in the league by a country mile in terms of how close we are as a squad,” he said. “It’s a case of upset one and you upset everyone.”
But it hasn’t been all sweetness and light off the field.
“We had an issue with the guy who initially set the club up,” continued Bateman. “We found out that he had taken around £2,500 which wasn’t his. We got it back, but then we didn’t have anybody to run the club.
“I’d really enjoyed being around the place, so I said that I’d take on the running of the team as captain.
“We have a chair Kevin Plowman, a secretary in Stuart Jackson and my wife, Vicky, is the treasurer. Between us, with the help of others along the way, we’ve managed to keep it going.”
Bateman mucks in with the administrative side as well as masterminding promotion after promotion. He was the fifth leading run-scorer in the division with 372 runs and the league’s leading wicket-taker with 42. No other bowler managed to claim 30 wickets.
Away from cricket, he is talent acquisition manager for Okells Inns, an Isle of Man based company whose portfolio includes running a family of pubs across the North of England. Arcadia in Headingley is one of them.
Carlton don’t own the ground which they share with Worksop thirds.
“We’ve been lobbying the local council to get the facilities upgraded, but it’s been a struggle,” said Bateman.
“The away changing room door was left open and some local kids smashed it up. It was awful.
“The ground itself, if you face away from the changing rooms and look across the ground, it’s beautiful. It’s one of the nicest looking grounds in the area. But walk out 15 yards, turn around and look back and it’s not great.
“We have gazebos and an electric scoreboard which we move to the edge of the pitch and pretend the changing rooms don’t exist.
“We were actually offered the lease of the ground by the council because we’ve been saying, ‘Spend a bit of money. We’re not asking you for the Lord’s pavilion, we’re just asking for clean changing rooms and a tea room’.
“There’s also a Bowling club there, and they’ve been quoted £2,500 a year for the maintenance of the green.
“If we think it’s something similar for the wicket and the outfield between us and Worksop, we don’t generate that sort of income – we don’t have a bar for a start.
“If I was going to spend that sort of money, I’d rather go to a local farmer and say, ‘Hey, can we have one of your fields and we’ll build a cricket club which is ours’.”
Two further things on the agenda for Bateman and the rest of the club’s hierarchy are generating a social scene outside of the season and adding a junior section to the one-team seniors.
“That’s the next thing on the list, but until we fix the facilities we can’t possibly go to the local schools and say, ‘Hey, send your kids here to play cricket’.
“Carlton and Langold are the two villages nearby with schools. But we have to make the facilities more appealing.”
Despite those off-field challenges, results on it suggest that this is a club on the up. And one of their major triumphs is helping Matt Bateman fall in love with cricket all over again. That is something to be extremely proud of.