Recognition for champion of village cricket

THE record run scorer at Valley End Cricket Club is now a national as well as a local hero, honoured for his dedication to teaching young people his favourite sport.

Paul Williams is the latest winner of the Voneus Village Cup Club Legend award, which celebrates individuals who show dedication and passion to cricket and their communities.

Paul Williams with his Legend certificate in the new Valley End clubhouse, which he has helped get off the ground using his skills as an accountant

Paul, who has been involved with the club since 1990, has notched more than 18,000 runs for the side since making his senior debut for Valley End at the age of 14 in 1994. He had previously impressed in the junior section.

Alongside his performances at the wicket – which include opening the batting at Lord’s in Valley End’s successful 2008 Village Cup campaign – Paul has been heavily involved with all aspects of the club.

He was nominated for the award by the Valley End’s director of cricket and vice-chairman, Andrew Monk, for mentoring scores of players through the club’s youth system across the last two decades.

Paul has also used his skills as an accountant to provide financial advice to the club as it developed its new ground and clubhouse in Woodlands Lane, opposite the original headquarters.

He dedicated most of his involvement with the club to his father, who brought him into the junior side and passed on a deep love of the Village Cup competition before his death in 2017.

Paul practising his batting technique in the Valley End nets

“Some people think they’re not old enough, big enough, strong enough to be selected for the club but I’m always promoting them because they’re better than some of the adults,” said Paul. “I was one of the younger ones once.

“It’s usually been quite a young side since I joined and, I will say, I was encouraging of the young lads coming through.”

Like some of other older players, he took a step back from playing on Sundays “because of other halves and families” but came out of retirement to lead the batting line-up for three matches in Valley End’s 2021 Voneus Village Cup campaign.

His games included the last-32 clash against West Chiltington and Thakeham CC. Despite half the regular starting XI self-isolating due to COVID rules, Valley End put up a tough fight in the match – with Paul making 52 from 104 balls.

But their dreams of a second Village Cup title fell short, as they lost by 33 runs.

Each summer, around 300 clubs from across the UK enter the cup competition, battling for the chance to play in the final at Lord’s, the home of cricket.

“I only played if they were short, because I didn’t want to take the position of one of the younger lads, but it’s been exciting,” said Paul. “Dad was so excited about the Village Cup originally, I know he’d have loved it.

“It was his dream that we’d get through to Lord’s and, in 2008, we did. He was beside himself, so nervous and excited, and it was an amazing experience to see all those young lads come through the rank and play at Lord’s.”

Andrew Monk commented: “Paul had the vision to get serious Sunday cricket started at the club and was instrumental in promoting the Village Cup as a realistic target.

“His dream came true in 2008 as he opened the batting at Lord’s. Since then, he has pushed for the next generation of players to take up the challenge the Village Cup offers.”

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