Alster Cricket Club/THCC Rot-Gelb: a potted history
THCC Rot-Gelb Hamburg recognized as Germany’s Club of the Year 2014
In 2014, as many of the club’s achievements came in the form of recognition off the field, as they did in performances on it. The year of recognition started very promisingly with a mention in the 2014 Wisden Almanack and an award for youth work from the city of Altona, the latter also generating further local press coverage.
In the meantime, another action-packed winter season saw four THCC teams competing in the NDCV men’s indoor tournament. Three of them reached the last eight, including the club’s U19 team, however the competition from SG Findorff Bremen proved stronger on the final day.
In the outdoor season, the Bundesliga Nord was made up of 6 teams, including the THCC 1st XI, champions from 2013. The THCC Academicals and Desperadoes both joined the new Regionalliga. After an easy 9 wicket win in their first match, the 1st XI lost two games in a row before receovering their stride somewhat, but two further losses later in the season put any chances of winning the title again well beyond them. The final ranking in second place disguised a disappointing season during which two of the club’s most successful players, Surya and Vinay, departed for foreign climes.
The Desperadoes started their season in the Regionalliga with a win over the Academicals, with the latter soon also getting off to a good start defeating the new team from Bremen-Findorff. The rest of the Regionalliga season failed to live up to its promising beginnings, however, with some matches being cancelled.
The high points of the season for many of THCC’s cricketers were undoubtedly the friendly matches against the three visiting teams who came to Hamburg on tour from the UK, as well as the club’s own tours. First up were Crawford’s Commandos from London, followed by Tarzan’s Touring XI from the West Country and last but not least the Swansea Law Society. THCC also sent teams out on tour to the North Sea island of Heligoland, to play the Heligoland Pilgrims again and to Dresden in an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the Elbe Bowl from RC Dresden.
THCC’s youth teams continued where they left off in 2013. The U19 team won not only its indoor tournament but also went on to win the NDCV U19 outdoor league. The U17 team won its indoor competition. The U15 team came a respectable second in both its competitions and the U11 team continued its steep learning curve upward against mostly older players. Continuing to extend its boundaries and commitment to youth cricket development, THCC hosted not just one but two Twenty/20 Youth Training Camps and also offered free introductory training to newcomers throughout the summer holidays via the Hamburger Ferienpass, the holiday pass for Hamburg’s schoolkids.
It is the THCC Ladies team, however, which deserves special mention here. The THCC Ladies entered the new Ladies Bundesliga at the deep end, often struggling to field 11 players, and equally often making up the numbers with absolute beginners. The Ladies did not win a match, but they did win a great deal of recognition and admiration and there were also several noteworthy individual performances during the season. It was particularly fitting that the Ladies played their first two matches on 18th May under the eyes of an ICC / DCB delegation who had come to Hamburg for the weekend to witness the growth of youth and Ladies cricket in the north of Germany.
In September, as the outdoor season came to an end, THCC launched its new cricket website, www.cricket-hamburg.de, on the occasion of another honourable mention in dispatches, this time in The Nightwatchman, the Widen Cricket Quarterly. And in November, THCC Rot-Gelb was honoured by the DCB as Germany’s cricket club of the year, this award being presented at the DCB Annual General Meeting held at the THCC Clubhouse, Hemmingway.
Overall, it was a year full of cricket achievements both on and above all off the field, and with membership still comfortably exceeding 100 members despite the fluctuation normal in any major city, the club will continue to consolidate and grow with the challenges of playing cricket in Germany.
THCC win the Bundesliga Nord, reach the national final and are Deutsche Vizemeister!
After a busy indoor season and also a successful 1st XI pre-season tour to Denmark, the 2013 season took off with THCC entering two teams in the Bundesliga Nord, the 1st XI playing in the North Group with the other Hamburg teams, Kiel and Schwerin, and the 2nd XI playing in the South Group. The 2nd XI, the Academicals led by “Doc” Steve Aplin, is a development team featuring a number of promising young players together with some of the more experienced “old hands” and did well to finish in 9th spot overall in the 12-team Bundesliga Nord. The first XI, captained by Surya Narayanan, won all its group games bar one, and defeated Pak Alemi in the NDCV final to take the champions title for only the second time in the club history. In the national playoffs, the 1st XI then defeated Viktoria Berlin in a riveting semi-final but subsequently lost in the national final. Nevertheless it was a terrific achievement – never has a THCC or Alster team made it to the national final before! The club’s 3rd XI, the Desperadoes, also had a great season in the 35-over “Friendly League”, winning 4 out of 6 games and finishing runners-up. Other highlights of the season were the June tour to Heligoland to play the newly founded Heligoland Pilgrims CC, the exhibition match played at British Flair on the polo ground in Hamburg (also against the Pilgrims), and the “Final Fling” family weekend in Damshagen to round off the season.
THCC’s youth section has not stopped growing either: around 50 youngsters aged 6-19 now play in the three groups U19, U15 and U11. The U19 and U15 teams not only won their indoor competitions before the outdoor season but also went on to win the NDCV titles in their respective age groups. The Twenty/20 Youth Training Camp, held for the third time at the end of the summer holidays, was another highlight of the THCC youth cricket programme.
With the overall cricket members now exceeding 100 at THCC Rot-Gelb, and the senior and junior teams victorious in their respective competitions, 2013 is certainly the outstanding and most successful year in the cricket team’s annals to date.
THCC celebrates the silver medal triple
Following the departure of captain Graham Sommer to Denmark, the 1st XI captaincy was taken over by THCC’s other former German international, allrounder Surya Narayanan. Indoors, the THCC 1st team was led by Jon Cardy, and the Twenty/20 team by Trived Turai. The season got off to a great start with the 1st team reaching the final of the Indoor competition, an experience soon to be repeated by the T20 squad. In the eleven-team League our 1st XI won all games except one, with a washout also costing valuable points, and so finished runners-up to HSV. Overall, this evidenced a consistently strong performance, with only a narrow gap remaining to be closed between the two top teams in the region.
The club’s two second teams, the Academicals and the Desperados, had mixed fortunes in the new 35-over “Friendly League” (of five teams), with the Desperados managing a convincing victory over Fallingsbostel but losing against the Academicals in the final game of the season. Other highlights of the season were undoubtedly the THCC 6-a-side Olympics featuring eight teams (gold medalists: Germany), the 2nd Alster/THCC cricket festival, and the Elbe Cup matches against Dresden CC in September.
THCC’s youth section continued to expand rapidly and now numbers 30 youngsters aged 6-17. After three indoor tournaments, the first outdoor league games in May saw the THCC colts losing only by the narrowest of margins to strong teams from Göttingen and Schwerin. In friendly matches later in the season the colts showed how much they have learned by defeating not only Hamburg rivals HICC but also a Mecklenburg-Vorpommern select team, both by big margins. The Twenty/20 Youth Training Camp held at the end of the summer holidays, this time for a whole week, surely contributed to the team’s improvement. This was also evidenced by the youngsters’ impressive performance at the DCB Schools’ Championships in Düsseldorf in November where the team, competing as Hamburg South-West, fought its way through to the final of the Plate Competition, losing there to a team featuring no fewer than three German U19 players. With membership levels stronger than ever before in the club’s history, the THCC teams await the 2013 season with confidence.
Semi-finalists in the North German league
The THCC team led by South African Graham Sommer (former German national team captain) won all its group games bar one and so qualified for the semi finals. In the semi-final THCC was drawn against HSV and put up 214 for 8 off the allotted 50 overs, recovering well from a top order collapse, with skipper Graham scoring 51 and Jon Cardy an unbeaten 38. However this was not enough and HSV won by 3 wickets, later losing to Hannover on the final.
However, the league campaign only tells half the story. 2011 saw the club realising its true potential in many other ways. THCC hosted the Hamburg indoor qualifying tournament, the North German indoor finals and even an an Indoor youth tournament with over 50 kids from all over the region. When the weather turned warm, the season really took off: in between and after the league games, numerous friendly matches were played at home and across Northern Germany, from Schwerin to Husum and Fallingbostel, and a team from London came to play a tour match.
The club’s youth section expanded rapidly, from just half a dozen youngsters at the start of the season to 17 at the end. The highlight was undoubtedly the Twenty/20 Youth Training Camp hosted by THCC in September which attracted 25 youngsters from the region and was run by professional trainers from the UK. To cater for the growing cricket section of the club, efforts off the field were focused at finding a second cricket pitch to cater for the boom.
THCC North German Champions!
August 1st 2010 was a red-letter day when the team won the North German Championship for the first time in the club’s 15-year history by beating HSV in a low-scoring affair played on the old Alster ground in Horn. THCC were bowled out for 111 with Su top-scoring (37). Those who felt this would be too low a score to give THCC any chance of victory had not reckoned with HSV’s self-destruct mechanism. Unable to get out of a 20/20 mind frame, many of the HSV batsmen were caught out going for big hits on the slow and slightly unpredictable wicket. Excellent bowling, again by Su, and several outstanding catches by Hardeep and Su meant HSV were all out for just 79 in just a dozen overs. It was a great team performance by THCC, not least in refusing to be provoked by the extremely unsporting pitch invasion by the HSV team after the fall of their 8th wicket. Congratulations to Javed, the captain, and all those who played their part in this first-ever NDCV Championship! This title meant THCC had qualified for the finals of the German Championship, but unfortunately the performances against the champions of North-Rhine Westphalia and Berlin did not match that of the final and heavy defeats resulted.
THCC lose to HSV in final of North German Championships
The first season on Germany’s only grass wicket! How would the pitch play? After many damp days in May and June, the wicket finally dried out in July and a sunny, warm August even allowed four consecutive days of cricket to be played on the ground. The verdict? Pretty good for a first season. And the more the wicket is rolled, the better it gets. An influx of new players in the winter and spring left THCC with a group of 20-25 keen cricketers. At last, the new captain, Javed, could look forward to a season of actually choosing teams rather than begging guys to turn up and play. The performances on the field were very mixed. A fine win against Göttingen in the first game at the new ground was followed by embarrassing league defeats against Oldenburg (away), HICC (home) and even Hamburg Youth (home). But enough points were gathered from other games, e.g. a historic victory over HSV, to secure THCC a place in the semi-finals where HICC were comprehensively beaten . Unfortunately, the two stars of the semi-final victory – Su with the bat and Saradhi with the ball – were unavailable for the final against HSV and a close-fought game was lost by just 3 wickets. It was actually one of the closest wins for the perennial champions HSV, but that is not much consolation in view of the earlier defeat THCC had imposed on HSV in the league. Still, ending up 2nd in the North German League in the first full season at the new club is a great achievement – congratulations to everybody who played for the club this year!
A new start at Rot-Gelb in Klein-Flottbek
The Rot-Gelb AGM on March 1 2008 voted to set up a new cricket section – with the proviso that safety nets be erected on two sides of the ground to protect the tennis players and parked cars from flying cricket balls. Unfortunately, the club did not have the funds to purchase masts and netting so the search began for sponsors. It was only in autumn 2008 that the money was finally raised – thanks to two generous grants from the state and local parliaments. However, since a “ex-Alster” team had been entered for the North German League, a small band of cricketers valiantly battled through the season playing all their games away from home. A training net was erected in one corner of the new ground and a couple of social events in the course of the season showed that the new clubhouse had great potential for socialising. There were, however, some hopeful indications of what the future could hold. Hamburg’s International School is moving to a site right next door to the Rot-Gelb ground in autumn 2009 and the Headmaster expressed a keen interest in close operation. Plans are going ahead to erect the masts and nets in the winter months so that by April 2009 the Rot-Gelb ground – one of Germany’s very few grass wickets – will be ready to host our home games.
An era comes to an end
The 2006 season was fairly unspectacular. The squad was further weakened by the loss of several key players. A general lack of numbers resulted in difficulties raising a team for some of the league games. The Committee’s biggest concerns were financial as the changes in the membership structure of the club made it increasingly difficult to raise the rent for the ground. Only through taking on another team as a sub-tenant and sponsorship by CFS could the bill be paid. By 2007 the fall in overall membership and relatively high proportion of student members had increased the financial pressures on the club. As a result, two other teams had to be invited to use the ground as well, a far from satisfactory solution. However, the bombshell hit the club in March when a local newspaper reported that Hamburg was planning to extend the racehorse to accommodate a new trotting course – at the expense of most of the cricket pitch. Many months of fruitless searches for a suitable ground followed and no clubs seemed interested in such a small band of cricketers. Finally, towards the end of the 2007 season, a tennis and hockey club in the western suburb of Klein-Flottbek, THC Rot-Gelb, welcomed us with open arms and proposed that Alster CC become the newly founded cricket section of Rot-Gelb. At an Extraordinary AGM of Alster CC on November 3 2007 the motion to dissolve the club was unanimously passed and Alster CC duly went out of the existence at the end of the year.
A season of transition
Though weakened by the loss of some key players, Alster’s season got off to a tremendous start with the Club winning the North German Indoor Champs for the first time. Outdoors, the highlight of the early season was the Club’s tour to Essex and London. Sadly, League performances failed to match the previous season’s highs and the Club finished fifth in the League, just outside the play-off places. Off the pitch, an era came to an end as Alster founder Mark Richardson gave up the Presidency and many of the long-established members drifted away. But as the one truly multinational club in North Germany, Alster continues to attract new players from the worldwide cricketing community.
2nd in the North German League
This was ACC’s Indian season as the weekly indoor net sessions held at a school gym near Altona Station had drawn in a numerous Indian cricketers. The outdoor season saw some powerful batting and bowling performances with at one stage Alster’s Gursaant Singh simultaneously heading the League’s batting and bowling figures. Sadly, Alster did not perform as well as expected in the final of the play-offs – not least due to the fact that Guru’s visa had run out – and had to be satisfied with second spot in the League.
A year of resurgence
In the Indoor Championships this year Alster CC managed 3rd place with a team featuring several newcomers. The outdoor team took on a new look as well, partly as a result of the captain and vice-captain having left Hamburg, but also because of an influx of new players. Young Australian James Bales assumed the mantle of the captaincy, aided and abetted by the kinetic Steve Aplin. When all players were available, Alster put out its strongest team ever, featuring the South African allrounders Graham Sommer and Graeme Rule, and Australian Damien Keating to name just a few. However, in the key matches the team was either missing they key players or otherwise fell short of its potential and so finished 3rd in the outdoor league.
Semi-finalists in Indoor Champs, 3rd in the North German League
At the German Indoor Championships ACC won its group outright and progressed to the semi-finals where Berlin’s SC Staaken won a close game. With two new teams joining the North German League, the outdoor season was an exciting and varied one, especially with the advent of two new Flicx pitches in the region, and at the end Alster were pipped into third spot on bonus points. Castle Rising CC of King’s Lynn played Alster on their tour of Hamburg but the Club had to cancel its own planned tour to Italy. Three friendlies against Husum, who play in the Danish Elite league, rounded off an eventful year.
2nd in National Indoor Champs, 2nd in the North German League
This year got off to a cracking start with an excellent result in the German Indoor Championships where the team fought its way through a tough group only to lose in the final. Outdoors, the team consolidated its previous year’s success and finished second again. The Club tour to London and Norfolk was a great success, with two games out of three being won. At home, the Club dedicated its resources to the construction of two additional practice pitches for net training.
2nd in the North German League
The 2000 outdoor season turned out to be ACC’s most successful yet with the dormant potential suddenly realised. The League had grown again with the return of two clubs, but in one upset after another, Alster defeated teams it had never previously beaten before (e.g. Hamburg Youth and Bremen). The first club century was recorded with Dilip Nair scoring an imperious 168 against former North German champions Hamburg Youth, and the 200-run barrier was broken by the team on repeated occasions on its path to second spot in the final table. Another major milestone was the ACC’s first tour abroad – to Manchester, where two matches and some excellent cricket were played against clubs from the Saddleworth League.
A year of consolidation
For several winters, the Club had benefited from indoor training sessions at Heinrich-Hertz-Schule, which had been initiated by sports teacher and ACC member John Kirby and seen many pupils introduced to the sport. The North German League had shrank with the self-imposed exile of two clubs and the outdoor season was a relatively peaceful one, though ACC failed to capitalise on the situation and finished fourth out of five.
A home ground at last!
After many months of negotiations, May 1998 finally saw an Alster dream come true. An artificial pitch was installed at ACC’s new “home”, a ground belonging to Marienthaler Tennis & Hockey Club (MTHC) next to the Horner Rennbahn race course. With the MTHC’s excellent clubhouse and changing room facilities, Alster finally had a ground to be proud of. Indeed, only a month later the German National team came to play a practice match. The results of the outdoor season were less conspicuous. Alster won the wooden spoon.
The last of the “nomad years”
With the League reverting to one group, ACC concentrated its talents on fielding one strong team and its energies on seeking better training facilities – and indeed a home ground. Thus far, the club had led a nomad-like existence, playing “home” games on the British Army base at Fallingbostel and even in Osnabrück, 200 kilometres away! This season, the ACC had shifted its training sessions from the Stadtpark to a parking lot at the Volkspark – not as scenic or as centrally located but at least there was a reasonable training strip for net practice. The team finished 7th in the ten-team League.
Two ACC teams in the North German League
ACC entered a team in the German National Indoor Championships held at Göttingen University but the players made more friends than runs. Every learning curve has to start somewhere! Outdoors, 1996 saw the ACC leave the previous season’s primitive training facilities and start training on grass for the first time – on a mole-infested, tree-lined hockey pitch in the Stadtpark. Picturesque maybe, but far from ideal. Many new members had joined the club so ACC fielded two teams in the North German League, one each in the two regional groups formed for that season. The 1st XI performed creditably in its group, finishing 3rd out of five, whilst the 2nd XI, which included a high proportion of young beginners, bravely plunged in at the deep end, finishing 4th out of its group of five.
Alster Cricket Club on June 14 1995
Many of the 15 founding members had previously played at another Hamburg club, but as a result of growing disenchantment had decided to leave and form Alster Cricket Club. The Club got off to a heady start. ACC’s first fixture in the North German League was an away game in Gütersloh to which the team was accompanied by a camera crew from German TV station ZDF! Long before a minimum number of German players became mandatory in the German leagues, Alster teams consistently featured four or more native Germans, who earned their places with strong performances. Eighth place in a ten-team League represented a fair start for the Club’s first season.