Blinding Success!

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Pictured- John Gribbin, Dan Hopkins, Edward Hastings, Elyse Bezuidenhout, Mike Tasker, Alun Jones, Paul Bryce, Sheona Page, Marc Gulwell, Robert Henderson

Gloucestershire Growlers – the county’s blind cricket team – have won their first ever league title.

Just six years after forming, the side cruised to the BCEW (Blind Cricket England and Wales) South West Regional championship following an unbeaten campaign. The team, who play their home matches at Hatherley and Reddings CC won four games and picked up two winning draws to finish 17 points ahead of runners-up Kent Spitfires.

The league title builds on the Growlers’ growing success, which included finishing runners-up in the T20 cup last year. Marc Gulwell, the club’s founder says the victory was a dream come true. He said: “When we set-up the Gloucestershire Growlers six years ago I often dreamed of lifting the league trophy but I never actually believed it would happen. Back then during the embryonic stages it was difficult enough finding a team of seven! However, after five years of competing and countless hours of tireless effort from all involved, I am proud to say, we did it! “As founder, I am extremely proud of the efforts of all involved, not just today but over all of the years we have been playing.” Blind cricket is played with a size three football filled with ball bearings. The wicket is larger than in sighted cricket and the ball must bounce twice before reaching the batsman.

The Growlers play in the second tier of blind cricket, one level below the National League. Their opponents this year included teams from Kent, Surrey, Berkshire, London, Hampshire and Dorset. Despite the euphoria of winning the league, the Growler’s success has been marred by sadness following the passing of two squad members during the season. Marc said: “Sadly this season both our club captain Terry Richards and new recruit Andy Dales have both joined the pavilion in the sky. Despite this overwhelming sadness, we are very proud to dedicate the league win to them both. ”

The Growler’s are hoping their success may help encourage more players or volunteers to get involved. Marc said: “Our great season has left us hungry for more success next year and beyond. If you or anyone you know is blind or partially sighted and are looking for a new challenge, then why not get in touch with us. “Blind cricket is a great sport to play, it’s competitive but friendly. The Gloucestershire Growlers are a family that is always looking to expand as well as players we also need more sighted volunteers.” If you are interested in either playing or volunteering then please email Marc Gulwell on mrwgulwell@gmail.com