Press Release

18/05/2020

This season was supposed to see the rebirth of Philadelphia but the club's hopes were well and truly put on ice when the lockdown was announced.

Since their relegation from the North East Premier League in 2005 the club  has languished in the Durham Senior League and latterly in the newly-formed Durham Cricket League - a far cry from the heady days when they were not only one of the most successful sides in the North East, but played on the best grounds.

"It's no secret the club was at a low ebb for some years, struggling on the field, and financially in real difficulties.

"Six years ago, we owed more than £20,000 to the bank and members,  but today are completely debt free and have money in the bank.

"And we haven't spent any of the profits raised from five very successful beer and music festivals to meet day-to-day costs, it's gone on improving facilities which I reckon are among the very best", enthused chairman Malcolm Pratt, who last November completed sixty years' service to the club.

And whilst it was important to get things right off the field, on the pitch they celebrated last September, defeating Seaham Park on the final day of the season, to win promotion to the First Division of the Premier League.

Shaun Smith is in his eighth year as captain and was really looking forward to a new challenge.

"We trained well during the winter and the lads were up for the season, only for our plans to be knocked on the head.

"We had signed an Indian professional, Ajav Mandal, a left-arm spinner and left-handed batsman who had enjoyed a very good season back home, as well as Anthony Watson and Dan Pearson both of whom have performed well for Seaham Park and Littletown, respectively.

"In addition, Ben Raine agreed to play for us when not required by Durham County, which would have been a real bonus.

"So we were really up for it, looking forward to playing against new opponents and on some of the grounds we used to play on in the past.

"I don't know what the future holds, we can only plan and hope we get in some cricket  this season.  

"The good thing is that our groundsman has continued to work and the square and outfield are looking superb, probably the best for a number of years, so we are ready to go as soon as the green light is given", said Smith.

Although Pratt is optimistic for Phili's future, he is concerned that some players elsewhere could call it a day and that clubs will find it difficult financially.

"We don't foresee problems.   In fact, we thought that we would not have sufficient players for an under-18 side but recently have been able to inform the Durham Cricket Board that we can field a team, which is great news.

"The winter junior coaching by Australian Mike Fishwick has clearly paid dividends.  We had agreed with another Aussie Mike Hirsch to be the club's coach during the season but whether he gets over now looks unlikely.  

"We are financially sound although I reckon our income for the period March - July will be down by more than £36,000 - this is the size of our problem.   We'll ride the storm but whether some clubs can, must be a concern."