Grace gets makeover as teams start strongly

DOWNEND Cricket Club’s plaque commemorating WG Grace has been returned to its original condition.

The plaque – which depicts Grace at the crease, surrounded by the period badges of the county cricket clubs – and its stonework surround are on the pavilion at the WG Grace Memorial Ground, which is overlooked by the legendary cricketer’s birthplace in North Street.

Restoring them to their former glory has been a complicated project for members and local businesses, and follows an upgrade to the clubhouse and changing rooms.

Club president Miles Davis said: “I decided that the plaque and surrounding area needed a makeover during lockdown in 2020. But with clubhouse and changing room upgrades going on it got forgotten. 

“Just before Christmas last year I started sourcing the original 17 county cricket club badges, which proved tougher than I originally thought, as some counties had changed theirs.

“With the help of a few counties via email I was able to complete the 17 needed.

“Meanwhile club member and player Phil Jackson had removed the old badges and taken the plaque down. I took the plaque into my workplace and club sponsor SM Gauge company, where I was able to remove the old paint.

“I then found the Prestige Wheel Company in Yate, who powder coated the plaque in a lovely bronze colour. Colin Reed from Reed Design & Print had found a way to print the new badges on an aluminium material.”

After exterior painting of the clubhouse was completed in early June, Phil put the plaque back in its rightful place to finish the makeover.

On the pitch, Downend’s sides have made a good start to the season, with the 1st Xl top of West of England Premier League Prem 2 division as the Voice went to print, after five wins from their opening six matches.

The 2nd Xl, newly-promoted to the Bristol & District senior division, are currently seventh, with two wins from six, while the 3rd Xl are third in B & D division 7, and eight points behind top spot.

The club’s newly-formed Downed Ladies team won their first game.

A 4th XI has played three friendlies so far.

The club’s thriving youth set-up includes under-9s, who have won three out of five games so far and have cricket festivals and fixtures planned for the summer.

The U11s are still waiting for their first win after four games, while the U13s won and lost one each for their two games and the U15s have won two and lost two.

The U17s are set to start playing after GCSEs have finished.