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HOWZAT: Hornchurch Athletic have title hopes

PUBLISHED: 18:30 05 May 2017

A Hornchurch Athletic batsman enjoys some refreshment at Hylands Park

A Hornchurch Athletic batsman enjoys some refreshment at Hylands Park

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Raftery in positive mood after Mid-Essex League reshuffle

Hornchurch Athletic gear up for the start of the new Mid-Essex League season with their first and second teams having been unexpectedly promoted over the winter, despite finishing third and sixth respectively last year.

A restructure of the competition sees the teams move up to Division One and Division Five, but first-team captain Ross Raftery believes he has enough talent at his disposal to mount a title bid.

“We’ve been preparing hard over the winter and we know the challenges we face in this division,” said Raftery.

“As with every year, we’re setting out to win the title and, given that the league is filled with teams we’ve beaten before, I think it’s a real possibility.

“There’s heaps of passion and ability in the side, and we finished last year with a flourish which I’m hoping we can carry into the start of this season – watch this space!”

Athletic have also entered the Essex Cricket Foundation Participation T20 for the first time this year and chairman Stuart Whitaker is hoping this can help to increase the level of participation at the club further.

“A T20 competition is an entirely new challenge for us, and I’d like to think it could revive Sunday cricket which seems to have declined in recent years” said Whitaker.

“It’s one of a few things we’re trying to bring the club well and truly into the 21st century.”

The Hylands Park clubhouse is currently undergoing a modernisation project aided by an ECB grant which will see the installation of new heaters, lighting and doors.

Whitaker has also been heartened by the growth of colts cricket at Athletic and says that the next generation is very much at the forefront of the club’s thinking.

“The most important thing for us as a club is to continue bringing through our homegrown youngsters into adult cricket,” he added.

“We saw a pleasing increase in colts membership last year and we’re determined to give them every opportunity by arranging as many fixtures as we can. As a club, I feel we’re in really good shape.”

Hornchurch Athletic’s first team begin their league campaign with a trip to Great Totham on May 6.

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