Sad news as Seaham Harbour Cricket Club fold in their 150th anniversary year

Seaham Harbour's team with professional Tony King in May 1982.
Seaham Harbour's team with professional Tony King in May 1982.
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Cricket in the North East has been rocked by Seaham Harbour Cricket Club’s decision to fold in their 150th anniversary year.

The lack of senior players to compete in the North East Premier League this season is understood to be the main reason for the club’s decision to call it a day, following an emergency general meeting this week.

Seaham Harbour skipper Joe Ranson (fourth from left) leads his side out to field in the Durham Senior League at Whitburn on May 28, 1955

Seaham Harbour skipper Joe Ranson (fourth from left) leads his side out to field in the Durham Senior League at Whitburn on May 28, 1955

A statement from player Shaun Hagan, on behalf of the New Drive club’s committee, read: “It is with immense sadness that this post is being written.

“The club has decided to close with immediate effect in its 150th year.

“The club would like to sincerely thank the players, members and committee for their services to the club over the years, which has helped create a great atmosphere, a great place to play and fantastic memories both on and off the pitch.

“We wish all involved the very best in the future and any club who accepts a Harbour player is not only gaining a great player but more importantly a geniune and brilliant person.

Seaham Harbour's team in June 2011. Back, from left: Anthony Watson, Ryan Consitt, Neil McKinney, Jack Lacey, Adam Fairley, Shaun McKenna; front: Peter Hambleton, Andy Boal, Jeffrey Laws, Neville Gustard, Stuart Lacey.

Seaham Harbour's team in June 2011. Back, from left: Anthony Watson, Ryan Consitt, Neil McKinney, Jack Lacey, Adam Fairley, Shaun McKenna; front: Peter Hambleton, Andy Boal, Jeffrey Laws, Neville Gustard, Stuart Lacey.

“I encourage all juniors to continue playing the game you love as you are the cricketers of tomorrow.

“Thank you for all your support and all the very best.”

Harbour won the Senior League title twice, in 1947 and 1953, with their cup triumphs including a memorable victory in the Armbrister Trophy in 1985.

They won the Smith Humphrey Cup eight times.

Former England Test cricketer Peter Willey (right), who started his career at Seaham Harbour at the age of 10, speaks to team captains Ryan Consitt (left) and Michael McNicholas (centre) ahead of the New Drive derby between Harbour and Seaham Park in 2011.

Former England Test cricketer Peter Willey (right), who started his career at Seaham Harbour at the age of 10, speaks to team captains Ryan Consitt (left) and Michael McNicholas (centre) ahead of the New Drive derby between Harbour and Seaham Park in 2011.

The NEPL, whose season is due to start on April 14, said in a statement: “Seaham Harbour Cricket Club has informed the NEPL that it is resigning from the League with immediate effect.

“It is always sad to see a club with a long tradition and history folding, perhaps especially so in this case as this is the 150th anniversary of the club.

“The NEPL is in discussion with the Durham Cricket Board and the chairs of the Pyramid Management Board have convened a meeting to take place on 22 March to discuss the situation.

“Further news on the implications for NEPL fixtures involving Seaham Harbour Cricket Club and other matters will be made as soon as possible.”

Seaham Harbour Cricket Club chairman John Blackford (right) at the unveiling of the New Drive scoreboard in 2013.

Seaham Harbour Cricket Club chairman John Blackford (right) at the unveiling of the New Drive scoreboard in 2013.

Ex-England all-rounder Peter Willey was just one of many well-known players to have turned out for the Harbour, who were founder members of the Durham Senior League back in 1903 and remained in the league until 2009, before being relegated into the Durham Coast League.

Harbour joined the First Division of the NEPL in 2013 following reconstruction which spelt the end for the Senior and Coast leagues, and had a best finish of sixth place in 2014. They were bottom of the table last summer.

Their professionals down the years have included West Indian pacemen George Francis and Dick Fuller, who memorably took eight wickets for the loss of just two runs in helping skittle Durham City for 17 in 1952.

Seaham’s demise brought a host sad messages to the club’s Facebook page, including the ones below.

Paul Andaz Andersen: Awful news. Hope to see the Harbour back again in the future

Michael McGhin: Very sad day, never want any club to fold especially one that is in your home town, I have very fond memories of the club and always a great buzz around the place.

Jack Merchant of Seaham Harbour pictured ahead of the start of play in June 1955

Jack Merchant of Seaham Harbour pictured ahead of the start of play in June 1955

Ady Purvis: So sad to hear about the club always a good vibe around the club good ground good facilities hes hoping it wont be long till ya back

Bryan Potts: What very sad news. Sign of the times unfortunately. Great lads at the club and will be missed. Had good memories playing against Seaham

John Smithson: Really sad news. Lot of hard work put into the club developing the facilities.

Sean Conroy: Tragic news.

Gary Crosby: Sad, sad day all the committee have worked so hard to keep the place going. Made some great friends and memories from playing my cricket there

Ann Corkhill: Omg was not expecting that, made some great friends been going there for cricket for 16 years, really sad news

Claire Dodds: So sad, a fantastic club

Andrew Robinson: It’s incredibly sad news, I have so many fond memories of playing against the likes of Messrs Lacey, McKinney, Laws, McKenna, Smith, Leslie to name only a few of many in the hey days of my 27 years playing

Andrew Ferguson: Sad news for a great club and a great bunch. Hope this is a temporary lull and you can rise again.

Lianne Watt: How sad. Spent many a summer night there with my parents as a child happily playing on the grass as they watched the cricket.

Mark Turns: So sad to hear this news a sad day for cricket and a sadder day for the town and people of Seaham, hoping it’s not too long until it returns.

Mark Scott: Sad times. Heres hoping you get back up and running ASAP. It can be done, as Littletown have proven.

David Lash: Really sad news, to see any local sports club go, but especially one with the history and facilities of SHCC. Massive thanks to Neil and everyone there for taking the time with the young uns. However hoping that a late rescue can happen to keep it going.

Simon Weston: Terrible news and a great shame for those players still wanting to play for the love of the game and not money. Had some ups and downs but overall a great place to play cricket and have had some great nights in the club

Dan Quinan: A black day for north east cricket. Very sad news

Allison Swainston: Sad news.I know how much work the committee have tried to fight this decision and it was not a hasty decision. A lovely club with a great environment for families to attend. Great memories of nights in the club. A lot of weddings stemmed from those nights.Lucky lads!

Colin Barratt: This is sad news. The club was always such a central part of Seaham life. I remember many years ago sitting in the little score box, frantically scribbling things down while pulling the canvas conveyors round so everyone could see the score. Great memories.

Vince Gustard: What a sad day for the cricket team and club

Dominic Christie: Even though I left the North East nearly 30 years ago, and now live on the other side of the world, Seaham Harbour is still my home team. We were never the fashionable club, but fantastic team spirit.

Michael Lane: Sad news. Have a lot of happy childhood memories. Tony King bowling at me in the “nets”, (concrete with a strip of Astroturf). Never saw the ball, just heard it hit the concrete, whizz past then hit the net. Then home over the lines before it got too dark!

Swarupam Purkayastha: Very sorry to read this, had wonderful memories with you guys and the club!

Joe Dodd: Had two great season here. Still my dad’s favourite club to come and watch me play at. Really sad to hear this.

Gary Cunliffe: Most of my childhood memories were spent down at the Harbour from age 13 to 21 nets 6 days a week with Simon Wright, Paul Martin in the old concrete nets (with massive holes in) then few games of pool on the worst table about but it was our table wouldn’t changed it for the world great memories

David Sweeney: This is really sad news for local cricket. Remember first playing there in the early 70s against the likes of Jimmy Dyson and Derek Leslie and also lads such as Brian Marwood, Stu Lacey, Nigel Gleghorn and Neil McKinney. I wish all associated with SHCC all the best for the future and sincerely hope that all those who wish to continue playing the game we love find themselves a new club.

Val Burgess: So so sad. We are losing so much of what is good. 150 years

Eileen Sanderson: Ah such a shame. I did the teas for 2 seasons and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer set of lads.

Glenn Furness: Gutted to hear this news many good time had at this fantastic club. Another great loss to Seaham.

Ian Graham: Very sad news, played many competitive games against Harbour at various age groups and seniors. So sad to see a good club and facilities end. Sorry to the members and players that worked hard to keep the club going. Any players senior or particularly juniors would be most welcome at Murton CC to keep you playing and interest in the sport.

Terry Charlton: So very sorry to hear that outcome. I really hoped the EGM might have sorted things out. Tragic for all concerned.

Darren Rountree: Very sad day it is for local cricket I’ve enjoyed taking in games over the last five years while making a few friends along the way gutted for all concerned am sure gonna miss it when the season starts

Keith Nicholson: Extremely sad day but very sadly times are changing and there are a good few clubs that are struggling and sadly others may well follow. I have donned the white coat there many times from the 1970s until the early noughties when my hips started to wobble. I have a host a fond memories from those years and maybe just one or two people may have argued with me but I was never wrong, but this is a hugely sad day for the people who have been keeping the club going and putting thousands of unpaid hours of love and dedication into Seaham Harbour Cricket Club. The decision to fold must have been horrendous, maybe this may shock other clubs and/or leagues into taking a step back and having a bloody good look at what is going on because if this can happen to The Harbour, it can happen to anyone. This will rip the soul out of several people involved with the club and north east sport is very much the poorer today.

Kay Weston: Unfortunately times have changed. Too many children more interested now in Xbox/psp etc. Parents having to work weekends to make ends meet. Lots of teenagers now away at Uni. Cricket as a whole is struggling to recruit players as football is played all year round. Its very sad news but feel very fortune that our son has played for SHCC and followed in his dad’s and grandad’s footsteps

Colin Stevens: Sad day for local cricket, lot of fond memories

Paul Day: Lots of things closing lately gonna be nothing left open

Jack Wrightson: I am very, very sad to hear the news. Our Graeme as a 16-year-old had one year as a first team player at the Harbour and players, committee men and spectators all welcomed our family with open arms and we were treated like royalty. He has played against them recently for Sacriston and has always again been treat regally. It is a very bad day for cricket when an old established well liked club like Seaham Harbour calls time on the game

Geoff Beer: Gutted very sad news great memories watching me Dad play then playing myself, some people worked so hard to keep it going, damm shame

David Lowes: Very sad to hear what’s happened at the Harbour. Before becoming a Park lad spent most if my early years along New Drive as my Dad and uncles played there. My nana lived on New Drive also next door to the lady who took in the great West Indian pros that once played there.

I even broke my arm as a 4 year old playing on the “big roller” that was next to the old scorebox.

Some great people at the club and cricket in Seaham will be missed without the Harbour.

Matt Young: Massive part of my growing up and played with some great lads. Really sad news. Always thought I would come back and play for the ‘Harbour’. Sadly not

Alex Brook: Sad news and so many memories of playing and taking junior sides to Seaham. Andrew McNally catch on his first ever game coinciding on the same day my gran passed away is something I’ll always remember and remind him of.

Hope the club rises again but I have the feeling this could just be the start for so many clubs. Clubs need to focus on what they have instead of trying to chase dreams and spending absolute fortunes. I know that wasn’t Seahams downfall but I bet there are many a club in that position.

Norma Pounder: Sad day for all the people involved past and present in the club. My grandson only started playin last season and loved it win or lose.

Kay Weston: Hats off to all that worked hard to keep the club going especially Peter Weston, Michael Sennett and Barney Maddison for all those unpaid hours of love for the club