The Steelbacks in the Community Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards (OSCAs) lunch took place on Sunday 7th August. The event allowed the community team to distribute awards to recognise individuals in the community that have contributed significantly to the running and growth of local cricket in Northamptonshire.

There are countless members of the community that contribute to local cricket and it is only possible to recognise a small number. However, the ‘Steelbacks Family’ includes anyone that watches, supports or plays cricket related to Northamptonshire and we would like to thank all of you for your contributions and support.

The first awards presented were the Steelbacks Family special awards – given to four individuals who have provided hard work and dedication to the Steelbacks Family for a number of years. A massive congratulations to all four winners, and another thank you for all of those years of hard work.

The four winners were Sandra Blair, Chris Francis, John Wake and Mick York.

Sandra took on full running of the Shires League towards the end of the century and has been a key volunteer at Overstone Park Cricket Club for a number of years.

Sandra has been innovative in her cricketing career, organising a network of tea ladies covering county age group fixtures and setting up a second hand clothing shop taking outgrown kit and passing it on to the younger players.

Sandra’s retirement has deprived the County of a great volunteer who is most deserving of her place in the Steelbacks Family and a worthy receiver of the Steelback Family Special Award.

Junior League Cricket in the East of the County just would not have been the same without the contribution made by Chris Francis.

Chris saw success in the Higham & District Youth Cricket League – winning it in 1965, 77 & 67, managing the under 13’s in their debut season, setting up the under 11 division and has been Secretary for the last 22 years.

Chris has given Youth Cricket in the County over 40 years of his dedicated service and truly is a celebrated member of the Steelback Family.

John Wake served as Master-in-charge of Cricket at Oundle School for over 20 years – and built a strong relationship between the School and Oundle Town Cricket Club.

Cricket in schools – including importantly local state schools – has been a passion of John’s, and he ran the Northamptonshire Schools Cricket Association providing competition for the County’s schools.

He also served as chairman of ESCA – the England Schools Cricket Association – and acted as squad manager for their Under-15s, working with youngsters including Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone.

John’s passion for the game is apparent to anyone who spends even a brief time in his company and he is a deserving recipient of the Steelback Family Special Award.

With over 60 years service to Great Oakley Cricket Club Mick has been club Captain, 2nd XI Captain, treasurer, secretary and Chairman, all whilst having looked after the ground since 1962.

He has overseen many changes at Great Oakley, as well as supporting the player pathway, forming the committee of the Corby and District youth league, being Chairman of the old county league, Northants Combination League and of the Cricket Board.

This is only a summary of Mick’s contributions and he is without doubt a special member of the Steelback Family.

The following 14 awards were presented by Northamptonshire Captain Will Young to individuals who have out in the extra mile to support cricket in the County.

The first award is for Young Volunteer of the Year (14-18), given to to Iris Kirk and Hannah Mcdade of Geddington Cricket Club. Both girls took part in the first ever Steelbacks In The Community Young Leaders Programme and have given so much back to the game since, both at their club and by helping out at festivals inspiring the next generation of players.

The second award is for coaching club of the year which went to Kettering Town Cricket Club. The club has a thriving junior section and a women/girls section that has grown massively over the last few years. They work hard to develop their coaches as well as recruit new ones to ensure they provide the best experience for all of their players.

The next award was the Officials award; which went to Colin Megennis. Colin started umpiring in Durham in 1994 and rose through the ranks quickly being appointed to Minor Counties panel. It is age group cricket where Colin finds his current passion. He umpires with authority and care in equal measures, allowing young players to develop and learn the game in a special environment, well deserved Colin.

The Coach of the Year award was next and went to Daniel Austin of Wellingborough Old Grammarians Cricket Club. The youth system at the club wouldn’t be the same without Dan, he coordinates all of the youth coaching, training nights, games, presentation evenings etc. As well as being the National Programmes activator.

The School of the Year award went to Crick Primary school. Crick took part in our Chance to Shine cricket programme and have engaged fantastically over the six week programme. All of the students were a credit to the school and the teachers engaged brilliantly with our coach Summer.

Thrapston Town Cricket Club is this year’s winner of the Making Cricket Accessible, for their continued development of women and girls cricket. In 2021, a third Thrapston Under 13s junior team, competed in the Wilson Browne Corby and District Junior cricket league. This team was a standalone hardball girls cricket team and a great reflection of all that the club does to make cricket a game for everyone.

The winner of the Young Coach of the year is Fay Robinson of Isham Cricket Club and the Steelbacks In The Community team. Fay has developed a skills award programme for 8-11 year olds which has been rolled out this summer, she also works tirelessly at Club level supporting all youth cricket at the Club.

Pro Active Leadership was the next award presented which went to Ben Hartley. As the Vice Chairman of the Northants Cricket League Ben has worked tirelessly in recent years to shape the League into a structure as close as possible to the wishes of the Clubs and Players. This includes driving innovation in the way the Divisions are structured and how the end of season Play Off’s work.

This award was for a young volunteer but this time between the age of 19-25. The award went to David “DJ” Hornby of Old Cricket Club. DJ’s volunteering runs through all facets of Old Cricket Club and he takes on an incredible amount of responsibility at a young age. Old CC are eternally grateful to DJ’s ‘Clubman’ attitude and hope he has many more successful years at the Club.

Moving to the National Programmes Activator of the Year, the award went to Olivia Belcher of Oundle Town Cricket Club. Olivia took on the role of Activator with virtually no knowledge of cricket at all; however, she threw herself into the position with an infectious enthusiasm. She is naturally very talented with children and to see so many All Stars returning again this season reflects how enjoyable her sessions were.

The penultimate award was the Heartbeat of the Club award. The winner of this award was Michael “Billy” Greener from Desborough Cricket Club. Mick is currently assisting with the ground, running the bar, vice chairman, assists with the selection of the senior teams and is always on hand to umpire any youth game. Mick is the overall “go to guy” for Desborough Town CC when any problems or issues arise. The heart and soul of the club.

The final award is for the Lifetime Achiever, which goes to Tim “Badger” Keeber of Old Cricket Club. He has been part of the club since he was 9-years-old, and continues to be an integral member of the club 58 years later. Tim is the ultimate Clubman. He is always the first to offer his help to keep the club running and never grumbles. Every member of the club, young and old, is eternally grateful for Tim’s generosity and dedication to Old Cricket Club.

Two award recipients couldn’t make it to the awards lunch but we would like to congratulate them on their contributions here.

Mark Toseland won the groundsman of the year award. Mark dedicates many hours down at Geddington Cricket Club preparing pitches and working on the outfield. The club has been able to take on extra games due to the hard work and dedication Mark puts in, they are also the home for the Northamptonshire County Women and U18 sides.

Glenn Thompson won the outstanding contribution to coaching award. He devotes hours each week to ensure that the members of our club get the best of his knowledge and expertise to ensure they progress and learn to play cricket, reaching their full potential. Watching the continued progression of the junior players, seeing many of them going into and through the senior ranks is a reflection of the hard work put in by Glenn and the rest of the coaching team

A big thank you to everyone who helped make the 2022 OSCAs happen, and a final congratulations to all of the winners. We look forward to seeing what everyone can achieve in the County in 2023.