Barkby United CC chief insists more to come after three teams hit league summits

Tom Flowers insists Barkby United remain a work in progress despite seeing all three of Barkby United’s County League teams sit top of their divisions on Saturday.

Just a week after the village club’s First XI went top of the Premier Division, the Third XI completed the set this weekend by hitting the top of Division Eight East. The second team have led Division Four East for much of the season.

Flowers, who became Barkby’s director of cricket seven years ago, hailed the achievement, but is wary of what could happen if the club rests on its laurels.

“It’s nice for the people who have been involved with the club for a long time, and to be experiencing this with a nucleus of homegrown players makes us very proud,” he said.

“We are in a healthy position, but the hard work never stops and we can’t afford to become static.

“We have probably been playing at about 80 per cent of what we are capable of.”

But Barkby are not an overnight success story. Like all good things, the club has developed slowly with sustainability and long-term the key watchwords.

“What we are now seeing is the product of a coaching, playing and non-playing set-up that we have had in place for the last 20 years,” Flowers added.

“This a long-term project, and I feel I’m probably only a quarter of the way into taking the club where I’d like it to be.

“Who knows what will happen in the future, but we won’t go away from the policy which has helped us get here.”

Barkby will have to do without Flowers for most of July while he coaches the England Learning Disability team in their tri-series with Australia and South Africa.

And they will also lose Ian Kirk who leaves to set up home in Scotland at the end of the month.

Kirk is perhaps the biggest success story of the club’s organic strategy, having graduated through the juniors to become one of the key senior players, and one of the best in the top flight.

He has been part of Barkby’s incredible journey from a Division Four side 10 years ago through four successive promotions to the Premier, via a relegation and another subsequent promotion.

“Ian is a great advert for local cricket and what you can achieve if you go about things the right way,” Flowers said.

“He has been nothing short of unbelievable for us and he is a loss, but it creates an opportunity for someone else and that’s how we have to look at it.”

Flowers is not someone to get carried away and is realistic about his team’s chances of eventually winning the Premier Division.

“I don’t foresee us being at the top of the league for the whole season, but we will take each game as it comes,” he added.

“We have done it for a year-and-a-half at Premier level and shown we can compete, but the likes of Kibworth and Ivanhoe have been doing it for 15 or 20 years so we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”

But success for the club’s other current table-toppers will be more than adequate compensation if they do slip off their perch.

“While your first team is having success, it’s essential your second and third team are pulling in the same direction,” he said.

“The first team is what other clubs will judge us by, but I judge on what whether the first team and third teams are practising together; are they enjoying our success together from top to bottom.”