Taverners with sights set on sustained progress towards competitive return

Portadown Taverners in Chambers Park on Friday during an end-of-season celebration that included the appearance of the Border League prize.INPT48-223
Portadown Taverners in Chambers Park on Friday during an end-of-season celebration that included the appearance of the Border League prize.INPT48-223

Portadown Taverners’ awards evening proved cause for double joy.

The appearance of the Border League prize marked a trophy-winning campaign at Chambers Park but the event also served as a celebration of team spirit.

The disjointed history of cricket under the Portadown banner has featured a number of revivals - with the Taverners’ inclusion in the Border League the latest attempt to encourage the sport within the town.

Hopes remain of a return to competitive cricket within the NCU framework but only when the infra-structure is in place to offer long-term support.

Efforts by a select band of volunteers to protect the Portadown legacy have led to the formation of the modern Taverners in the aftermath of a decision to withdraw from the NCU due to a player shortage.

“Of course, the aim down the line is to get back into the NCU but it must be at the right time,” said Portadown Taverners’ George Hamill. “Until we have the finance and various others elements in place to make it work then we will focus on maintaining a town connection with the Taverners.

“The Taverners project has been a hit, with the casual team offering anyone an opportunity to try out the sport but the Border League marking that step up and middle ground between social cricket and the NCU standard.

“It was a great night on Friday at Chambers Park and next on the agenda is the annual general meeting.”

Portadown Taverners wrapped up a debut season within the Border League as champions thanks to a successful record against inaugural champions Monaghan, Dundalk, Clogher and Dungannon.

“The players enjoyed it and the Border League format presented a chance to pull in players from NCU clubs to help add to our core group,” said Hamill. “People seemed to really get into the spirit of the competition and many of those players from other clubs have previous links to Portadown.

“Alan Chambers really is the inspiration behind the Taverners and deserves so much credit for his dedication, especially when it comes to preparing the wickets and overall ground work.

“Then people like Gary Murphy and Jeff Haire may be at Laurelvale but, as former Portadown players and past members of the youth section, maintain that commitment to the town club.

“It is also important to have that younger generation of people like Gary and Jeff involved in keeping the Taverners moving forward.

“Our thanks go to Laurelvale and those other clubs for working with us on the player front.

“The final of the Border League was, of course, extremely competitive but the main aim was to keep alive the Portadown name.”