Been switched on to cricket by The Hundred? 853‘s special correspondent and turf investment adviser MERCURY MAN returns with the man who’s helping children from across Greenwich and Lewisham get to grips on the crease.
I don’t like cricket. I love it. Especially compared to that game where all sorts of dastardly foul play are excused as “taking one for the team”.
Anyway, cricket. It’s great to report on an indestructible group of enthusiasts who are making sure that youngsters have every chance to take up the great game in Greenwich and Lewisham.
The grass on which it all happens is Hervey Road Sports Ground, 98 Hervey Road, SE3 8BU (you can’t leave out the full facts when people need to jot them down). Likewise, a secondary venue is Charlton Park, that big one on the right after you go through Charlton Village towards Woolwich (incorporating the excellent Old Cottage Coffee Shop café).
So let’s introduce you to the indomitable Andy Pye, one of the cricket lovers establishing a legacy before wicket from his home overlooking the hallowed turf that used to house London Boys Football Club (remember them?).
Andy doesn’t need a deep breath to explain, but you might – and keep that jotter handy…
“We run all-day holiday courses on every day of every Greenwich state school holiday – except Christmas. So over this summer we will be running until Friday, August 27, and then a final hoorah after the Bank Holiday weekend on Tuesday, August 31, before the kids return to school on September 1.”
You can find out more and how to book a course at by signing up to his mailing list.
Andy continues: “They run from 9.30am to 3.30pm for the over-eights, with a half-day option from 9.30 to 12.30 for the five to eights. We have been running these for about 20 years, although this is our third venue. If Covid allows, we also run a pre-care and post-care option so parents can leave their kids from 8am to 6pm. It’s an alternative to childcare – and much cheaper – but we do reserve the right to cancel at short notice, so it’s not a like-for-like replacement.
“Last summer, we cancelled two out of 29 days because of rain, and we curtailed a couple of other days because of extreme heat – we do have an air-conditioned pavilion but we are not allowed to switch it on because of Covid rules!”
Like myself, Andy is a journo, but he knows what he’s doing…
“I’m a technical editor in the engineering/manufacturing sphere, both in print and online. I do technical writing and editing for a number of clients, and increasingly I chair webinars and online panel discussions.”
Webinars? Better leave that there and get back to the cricket.
“The Greenwich & Lewisham District Development group supports recreational cricket in the two boroughs. Chris Swadkin and I have run it together for ages. To do this, we formed a company called Greenwich Cricket Limited. There are three directors of GCL – ‘Swad’, myself and Mickey O’Callaghan. The company secretary is Mrs Pye!
“Swad is looking to retire, as he has now moved out of Greenwich down to Otford in Kent to downsize and be nearer his grandchildren. So we will look to appoint another director in due course (I’ve got too much on my plate, Andy, but could be bribed).
“One arm (Left arm over? Sorry.) covers all the administrative stuff and the other is the playing arm, where we do the holiday courses, and Greenwich Juniors Cricket Academy (GJCA), which is a junior club. GJCA works with adult clubs which do not have the resources to run their own junior coaching operation, so we do it for them, feeding the kids into their lower adult sides when they get to about 14.”
(Marvellous. Absolutely marvellous. I took 8 for 3 at Forster Park Primary School in 1958 but wasn’t fed anywhere).
“Our 2020 summer holiday course attracted an average of 70 kids per day for six weeks, with the highest daily attendance being 97. We didn’t quite manage the hundred, but over Easter we managed a day with 130 kids aged between five and 16.
“I do very little real coaching these days and prefer just to run the business, but our core coaching team of myself, Graeme Moir, Len Sales and Raj Prabhaker have been together for about 20 years now and Hervey Road is our third venue.
“To avoid all getting older together, we have a new generation of coaches, including Jack Williams and Ayoob Khan, who are both in their twenties. Victoria Bagge is currently studying medicine at Oxford, so she helps during the holidays when not studying or playing tennis or cricket. This means that we can offer a kind of cricket-focused multi-sports syllabus, including football, tennis and hockey as well. This summer, we are planning to add volleyball, handball and fitness training to the portfolio.
“We have Phoebe Franklin, who teaches at St Dunstans and plays cricket for the SE Stars. Len’s daughter Eve is also one of our regular coaches and often takes midweek matches against other local clubs.
“We have a young coach helper, Bella, who is terrific with the youngsters and is playing for Hayes Ladies (she scored a recent 50 and hopes to play for Scotland).
“Our team is completed by young helpers – 14 to 17-year-olds who volunteer, some for the whole summer, some for a few days or weeks. Jack, Victoria, Phoebe and our young budding Scot have all come through the ranks from the coached to the coaching.”
Andy came up with extras galore, but it’s probably best to leave it or you’ll think Chris Tavare has opened the batting.
You can contact Andy directly at andy[at]andypye.com, but probably best to read the information first, before contacting Andy.
Finally, a tear jerker for me. The cricket song for every weekend player who’s fielded at third man (or silly mid-on)….
Mercury Man talks to SE Londoners with interesting tales to tell. Read his past stories.
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