As the winter blues set in and the football season is well underway, there’s no better opportunity to reminisce about a sunny Sunday in June where the Nottingham Lions hosted a charity cricket match in aid of Notts LGBT+ Network. The idea was simple, a representative team from the Lions would compete against Nottingham’s local celebrities in a T20 style cricket match.

This project would be one of the biggest the Lions have ever undertaken, with the preparation beginning months in advance, fronted by committee member Iain G. Lady Bay cricket ground was confirmed as the venue, and the A-listers had been drafted including; Graham Chapman, Owen Shipton, John Hess, Charlotte Gilmartin, Elizabeth McKenna, Matt Teale, Crispin Ellisdon, Siobhan Prior, Dominic Heale and Charlie Slater. Through Shaun R, a member at the football club, we managed to host training sessions at Nottinghamshire’s own Trent Bridge cricket nets. The celebrities were invited down and it was clear to see that players were out for blood! These sessions were a great success, both from a cricket perspective but also allowing different groups of people including the celebrities and cricket coaches to engage with the Lions as a group of people rather than just a name.

After contacting local TV station “Notts TV”, they were kind enough to host us to talk about and publicise the event, with a little background information about the Lions for viewers who didn’t know who we were. This was a great success, with veteran of the club John S and chairman Simon R representing the club with pride. This interview can be found below:

Ey Up Notts, Tuesday 29th May

Notts TV went on to agree to capture some footage of the day including match play and interviews of the players and spectators. With the day dawning ever closer, all that was left to do was cross fingers in the hope of a dry day.

Sunday 3rd June arrived. The preparation had been complete and it was now time to enjoy a day of cricket, fundraising and the odd alcoholic beverage from the spectators. The day proved how willing the playing group at the club is at getting involved. Camping chairs of all different shapes and sizes were assembled for the vast amount of friends and families who were coming down to support, beverages were placed in cool bags and ice buckets as the weather had been kind to us and raffle prizes, kindly donated from friends and family of the club, were laid out in the hope of raising even more money on the day. Veteran at the club John S wrote a small match report on the day which can be found below:

The Lions were put into bat and at 24 for 4 were in some trouble. BBC Weather man Charlie Slater was faster than a gale force wind but thanks to some middle order partnerships, the Lions batted themselves back into it. Robbie J, Jay M and Brett L, who top scored with 25 not out, moved the score nicely to 68 for 6. The celebs kept chipping away though and the Lions were nine players down before last man Matt S hit a few clean shots. The Lions were dismissed for 97, painfully close to that team century but nevertheless, moved into our fielding stint optimistic.  Everyone enjoyed the tea break on what was now a baking hot afternoon. The Celebs needed a tad under four runs an over to win and saw out the first six balls without alarm. However, their innings was in complete disarray soon after. John S was twice on a hat-trick as he bowled two overs taking 4-8, all four wickets were bowled out. With others chipping in, the Celebs were 13 for 6 and realistically the contest was over. Even Simon R, an occasional spinner, took a wicket as the Celebs were all out for 41 leaving the Lions winners by 56 runs.

The day was a huge success, with a staggering £2000 being raised for Notts LGBT+ Network through sponsors, donations and money spent on beverages and raffle tickets on the day and everyone left with a smile on their face, even the local celebrities who were enthused at the idea of a rematch. Without the support of the playing group, friends and families, this mammoth effort would not have been possible. Please find highlights of the day below from Notts TV, the segment beginning at 16 minutes, 45 seconds into the show:

EyUp Notts, Monday 4th June

Thank you to the Nottingham Lions’ members who made the day possible, representing themselves and the club proudly and demonstrated their passion for LGBT+ issues and awareness by getting involved for such a worthwhile cause. Thank you to the local celebrities who gave up their spare time to come and play a sport some have never played before. Thank you to Notts TV for hosting us both on their show and then coming down on the day. Thank you to the club sponsors for supporting the club in its effort to find a place for everyone in sport, especially football no matter their sexual or gender orientation. This has brought the club closer together, but also to the general public as a whole, in the hope of getting the message out there that football is for all and the Nottingham Lions Football Club will give people the confidence to play sport in a welcoming and supportive environment.

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