Jeff Magure (CricketEurope)
50 years' service to his beloved Dundrum in the NCU. Jeff Maguire is bowing out with the club never in a better position.
My cricket career is like a love story second only to my family . It all started 50 years ago and has been a journey that I'm proud of and has given me friendships for life. For that I feel blessed.
From as far away as India, Sri Lanka and Australia, so many friendships from different clubs across the island of Ireland.
Hard to believe that I am 50 years going to The Meadow at Dundrum and still get a buzz when going through the new gates.
I can still remember playing in the winning side in Downshire cup final at the best ground at the time in the NCU, Strangford Road, defeating Downpatrick with my brother Noel scoring 80 to beat a strong home side that featured Alfie Linehan, Noel Ferguson, cracking left hand bat Hugh Linehan who should been capped, Jim Patterson, another future Irish player and Brian Ferris - a very underrated superb all-rounder.
My memories of the game was that I got to play in front of a decent crowd alongside two of the best club players our village ever produced, one my brother Noel and Alan Neill.
I have been very proud that I captained the first team for seven seasons, in which the highlight was winning back-to-back McGready cup finals at the Meadow beating North West teams Bonds Glen and The Nedd .
Both games had a fantastic atmosphere as they both brought a full 52 seater bus packed with refreshments and both teams stayed long into the night at the Bay Inn as they enjoyed the village hospitality.
Successful Dundrum team of 1974
Dundrum 30 years ago suffered their second arson attack but it simply showed the fighting character of the committee and members commitment.
I wrote lots of begging letters and phone calls for help and got massive shock as got cheque made out to myself for 15 000 pounds from The foundation of Sports & Arts with special thanks to former player Australien James Burston input then another 10 000 pounds from Down district council . The club then got local firm Seamus Walsh & sons to build the excellent present pavilion at a cost of 30000 pounds and it was the start of rebuilding the club in every aspect .
The club's ground staff are real stalwarts and deserve special mention. 82 year-old Tommy Curlett has looked after the square for over 55 years assisted in the last decade by his brother Jack, one of the clubs best ever all rounders.
Not be outdone, brothers Bobby and Jim built the superb new electric scorebox free of charge.
The Curlett brothers with Jeff's grandson James Lavery
The club found a gem in new treasurer Stephen Calvert a decade ago as he is the driving force behind fantastic forward thinking and plans everything down to the last detail. He now also prepares the wickets and I have never seen a harder worker in my life at the club. From clearing the banks to planting hedges, getting grants and he is the very tough treasurer that all clubs need.
The club backed my request to employ the first of many successful overseas coaches, Sri Lankan Manoj Fernando 12 years ago. It is the main reason the club is thriving as the junior section has been very successful with six of them now playing for the first team and many more playing for seconds and thirds. The juniors have been on tour to Scotland three times and Telford and have another good crop of kids coming through.
Though my playing career had so many highlights, in 2011 I was awarded the superb Jim McMorran Waterford crystal bowl for voluntary services to cricket from the NCU.
On my 60th birthday instead of letting my family arrange a house party I ran a fundraising soft ball fun match and barbeque which attracted quite a few and raised 1900 pounds towards a new set of covers. I remember it as much for the coverage legendary reporter David Holmes got me in social media - may he rest in peace.
Then after two operations in 2019 forced my thoughts on retirement so I invited lots of players from as many clubs as a thank you to a sport that has given me something that money could never buy.
Jeff Maguire with Justin Kemp and Prem Ahire
After running two T20 games and refreshments and raffle I could not believe that we had raised 4500 pounds toward a new electric scorebox. It was a very emotional day for me as I wandered around the ground with my grandson James but was amazed at the decent crowd. After bowling the first ball I walked off to enjoy the day but deep down it hurt that I could not play.
The season should start the first week in May and it's testament to all the hard work at the club that they now can field three senior teams. Captain James Martin has got a very decent team to start the season and no doubt they can be very competitive.
The club is excited about new coach Dan Kearsley starting cricket coaching after Easter in Shimna Integrated College every Thursday, as they are very committed to attract new young boys and girls to the great game of cricket.
In July I will be holding my last fundraiser towards new enclosed two-bay practice nets and play two T20 games with barbeque and refreshments and retire from the game of cricket that has been a massive part of my life - 50 not out and burn the whites.