It might be fair to describe Whitby natives Mulgrave Cricket Club as an outpost in Yorkshire, certainly location wise but definitely not in terms of success.
“There’s only Staithes (Athletic Club CC) who are further north than us in the county,” said the club’s secretary Simon Kipling.
“They are about eight miles from where we are based in Lythe.
“You’re looking at generally in excess of 20 miles per away game for us.”
Mulgrave are the reigning champions of the Scarborough Beckett Premier League, winning last year’s competition by more than 100 points from Ebberston.
It was a maiden Beckett League title for the club whose journey to this point included moving from the EskVale League to the Derwent Valley League before settling where they are now.
“We used to be in the EskVale League, but with the decline in numbers and our desire to progress as a club we decided to move on and join the Derwent Valley League. This also was a new geographical area for us to play our cricket.
“In 2004, we were granted funding to build a new multi sports ground. It was originally for cricket and football, but now it also includes a bowling club. We moved to up the new facility in 2007.
“We initially left the EskVale League to go to the Derwent Valley League, and we were only there a couple of years. We got promoted through the Derwent League into the Beckett and have been here since then.
“At that time, we had a strong influx of junior and younger players, so we broke away into the Derwent League but kept the seconds in the EskVale League.
“We later decided to apply for the Beckett League to have both teams in there.”
Those two teams had an excellent 2022.
“Our seconds only missed out on promotion from Division Two (third tier) by a couple of points,” continued Kipling, a former first-team captain who now plays in the seconds.
“How the Beckett League works, you get points for a win or a complete win for bowling sides out. There were a couple of games towards the end of the season where we just couldn’t bowl teams out. That was the difference. Congratulations to both Ganton and Snainton, who gained promotion last year.”
Where Mulgrave are based in Lythe is, of course, an added ‘e’ on the end of a current Yorkshire star Adam Lyth, the opener who still lives in Whitby and commutes to Headingley.
“Adam’s never played for Mulgrave, but he’s close friends with a number of our players,” said Kipling. “He’s someone a lot of us have played junior cricket with and against.
“He’s helped us out with various fundraising events, and we’re very proud of his achievements.”
That community spirit is something Mulgrave are extremely keen on upholding.
“We’re part of Mulgrave Community Sports, that’s who run our organisation,” continued Kipling. “We have our football teams, cricket teams and bowling club.
“There are two people on that committee who are the big drivers behind us, that’s Dougie and Irene Raine. They were instrumental in us moving away from the old ground to the new and getting the funding we got.
“Fundamentally, it’s down to them where we are today. You can’t speak highly enough of them for what they’ve done.
“We would like to thank Raithwaite Hall Estate for supporting us having an overseas cricketer over the past five years.
“We’re also heavily supported by Lord Normanby, who is the owner of Mulgrave Estate and the Castle. His support doesn’t go unnoticed.
“He sponsors us in many ways, not only for the cricket side of things but also through our overall set-up at Mulgrave Community Sports. This year they have agreed to look after our proposed overseas player with accommodation and a job.
“It’s very important to us to help the community and give something back.
“This year, we’re also looking to open our ground up once a week just for youngsters and families to come and enjoy our facilities.
“We aren’t going to charge anyone for it. It’s something different that we want to do as a club to help build that interest in the game. We want to encourage juniors to come up and use the excellent facilities.
“Our facilities are also used by local primary schools, who come to us once or twice a year.
“We do different fundraising events as well. Back in 2021, we held our own Annual Golf Day held at Whitby Golf Club, which was a huge success not only for the club but also our chosen charity.
“This year’s event is on Friday August 11, and our chosen charity is St Catherine Hospice. In previous years, we’ve raised money for Prostate Cancer UK and Bowel Cancer UK.
“It’s not all about us taking the money and reaping the benefits.”
When talking about the community, it brings us onto the topic of the juniors, which is something Kipling referenced a bit earlier in this piece.
“We don’t actually have our junior set-up anymore,” he said.
“We had a big influx of young players coming through, but they are now into our first and second team.
“Where we are in Lythe, it’s not straight forward to attract players. We are less than five miles from Whitby, who have a very good junior set-up of their own.
“But if you look down the starting eleven of both our teams, I would say a minimum of 18 will have been with the club in excess of 10 years.”
There are, of course, many ways to skin a cat.
“We do have an evening league team, which is aimed at bringing the younger players on,” explained Kipling.
The secretary continued: “I’m sure a lot of clubs you speak to mention the phrase family club, and that’s us as well. A lot of us have been to school together, we’re close friends.”
On the field, Kipling highlighted the excellent work done by first and second-team captains Craig Thompson and Nick Gibson. Off it, he heaped praise on chair Neil Duell, Joe Hinchliffe, Dougie Raine and his son Chris, who all work hard on the ground to keep it in order.
“The standard of the wickets and outfield is a big plus for us,” he said. “We also have lovely changing rooms and a viewing room. Our location means there are some lovely views up there.
“We’re in the top three for umpire markings in terms of pitches, facilities, scoring facilities, that type of thing, which is testament to the hard work that everyone puts in.
“We have actually advertised for a groundsman this year, something we’ve never done before. That’s down to Joe, who has looked after the pitches. He’s doing really well in his own job and can’t commit to the hours he had been doing. He didn’t want to let anyone down.”
Andrew Thompson is our vice chair and one of the big drivers behind the Golf Day and all other fundraising events. We’re one of a few clubs lucky enough to have an overseas player, and down to Andrew’s hard work this makes it possible for us.
Mulgrave are currently finalising a deal to bring an Australian overseas batter to North Yorkshire, though they have lost linchpin batter Chris Batchelor, the former Yorkshire Academy and second-team batter.
Last year, he led the league’s run charts with a superb 1,331 runs with six centuries, including a best of 149 not out. But he has now moved back to Great Ayton.
“We wish him all the best,” said Kipling. “He will be hugely missed, but it gives the opportunity for other younger players to step up and reap from the benefits of watching Chris bat last year.”
As for the 2023 goals, Kipling added: “Retaining our Premier Division title is one of our overall aims for the summer. That and our second team getting promoted.
“But, at the end of the day, we just want to see our younger players come through and take on more responsibility.
“If they can be involved in some success at this stage, they will then have the appetite to push on themselves in the years to come.”