Alphington and Countess Wear merger about to take a step closer

Alphington

By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE

THE proposed merger between Alphington and Countess Wear should be formalised on Thursday night.

Countess Wear members have already voted in favour of fully merging the two clubs. For the past two years the youth sections have operated as one club, but the respective seniors have remained independent.

Alphington members and players will vote on the merger plan at their annual meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday evening.

Merger talks have been going on for more than a year between the clubs, who have both experienced problems getting games played.

Andy Mills, a former 1st and 2nd XI captain at Alphington, said the merger made sense for both clubs.

“We have had problems getting sides out for a while and in 2018 had to drop our second team due to lack of numbers,” said Mills.

“Countess Wear have had well-documented issues about access to their ground yet have been getting two sides out.

“We have got superb facilities – nets, covers, pavilion – but not enough players. The have ground problems but do have players.

“Bringing the two clubs together, especially as we already have done at youth level, is the sensible thing to do and both clubs know it.”

Mills said the new club – as yet without an official name – will run two teams in the Tolchards Devon League next season. What divisions the teams will play in has yet to be confirmed.

“Our 1st XI was relegated from the C Division East so they will be in the D East next season,” said Mills.

“Countess Wear 1st XI stayed up in the E Division East, but that is only one division below us and may be a bit too strong for the new 2nd XI.

“Countess Wear 2nd XI were bottom of the very bottom division, the H East, and that might not be strong enough for the players likely to play in it.”

“We are talking to league officials to work out where the second team will be put.”

The Alphington-Countess Wear issue is one of the reasons why fixtures for the 2020 season will not been published on time.

League officials had hoped to get the fixtures out to clubs by mid-November, but a month-long delay is anticipated.

In a letter to all clubs, league secretary Ed Leverton has set out the reasons for the delay.

“Our league fixtures officer has reported that the schedule for 2020 is almost complete,” Leverton has told clubs.

“However, there are a small number of clubs who have yet to confirm to him their use of grounds for the 2020 season.  

“As a consequence of this, it is unlikely that the fixture programme for 2020 will be published until around December 15.  

“We will aim to deliver them earlier than this date, but that will only be possible where those outstanding clubs respond directly to the league fixtures secretary.”