Civil Service North of Ireland was formed on 21st October 2004 from two separate clubs, Civil Service CC and North of Ireland CC. Although now well established as a single cricketing identity, it took nearly 200 years of history to arrive at this point.
North of Ireland were resident in their Headquarters on the Ormeau Road for 141 years before moving to Deramore to play as Belfast Harlequins Cricket Club. This was formed when the North of Ireland Rugby Club and the Collegians Rugby Club, the Collegians Hockey Club, the Belfast Bowling Club, and the North of Ireland Cricket Club were merged into a single Club. There were some successes for the Belfast Harlequins club but increasingly the signs were that the future of cricket at Deramore was not rosy.
Civil Service Cricket Club was formed in 1949 with membership almost exclusively confined to civil servants or their relatives. The founder members mainly came from the Inter-Ministry League (who played evening matches of 20 to 25 overs duration at Stormont). For the first couple of seasons, only friendlies were played but by 1954 they had sufficient members to field three sides in league competitions.
In 2004 North of Ireland decided a steering committee should be set up to investigate the possibility of a move. Under the Chairmanship of Jonathan Hool, and with Andrew Babington as Hon. Secretary, contact was established with the Civil Service Club.
The Civil Service Chairman in 2004 was Nigel Rountree, and their President, Peter Lunney. They were receptive to the initial overtures made, and tentative arrangements were put in place to allow a merger between the two clubs. Certain steps however were essential for the merger to take place.
From the North point of view the cricket club had to demerge from Belfast Harlequins and reform as the North of Ireland Cricket Club. From the Civil Service viewpoint the membership had to endorse the proposed merger. On the evening of 20th October 2004 two meetings took place.
At Deramore an extraordinary general meeting was held at which the cricketers were successful in a vote to demerge from Belfast Harlequins. At the same time at Stormont the Civil Service club had voted in favour of a merger with the North of Ireland club.
On the following evening, 21st October 2004, a meeting of the North cricketers took place in the Stormont Hotel and the members present subscribed to the re-establishment of the North of Ireland Cricket Club. After this meeting the members moved to the Maynard Sinclair pavilion across the road at Stormont where the Civil Service membership were present. The merger of the two clubs was concluded and the Civil Service North of Ireland Cricket Club was born!
The newly formed Civil Service North of Ireland Cricket Club was now fielding six teams. From the start it was obvious that this now much larger club was going to require a greater degree of administration and organisation to be successful.
Initially it was felt that a joint Presidency would be best and so Peter Lunney (Civil Service) and Simon Corlett (North of Ireland) took up the reins of the newly formed club. The secretary’s role was filled by Andrew Babington and the treasurer was John Neill – both of whom still continue in office today.
The main objective in the first competitive season in 2005 was to get the 1st XI promoted into the top league where they belonged. The season ran right up to the wire where the 1st XI were involved in a playoff for promotion with Muckamore at Carrickfergus CC. It was a closely fought encounter but thankfully CSNI came out the right side of it and won by 14runs. 2006 would see the CSNICC play in the top league in NCU cricket – the first objective was achieved!
The next few years saw more success for the first XI. They have won the Challenge Cup twice (2008 and 2014) the T20 Cup once (2014), the Club Turf once (2009) plus several good finishes in the league. They have regularly finished 4th since our formation and last year clinched 3rd spot. A good start by the first XI which has been improving as time goes by – hopefully we will see them become league champions at some stage in the near future.
Other senior teams in the club also started to find their feet in the first couple of years. The 2nds, 3rds and 4ths all finished second in their Leagues. The Fourths also reached the final of the MQ Cup, narrowly beating the Sixths in the semi-final. A creditable effort in the first season of a merger, and very promising for future seasons.
In 2007 the 2nds gained promotion back into Section 2 and reached the final of the Intermediate Cup but unfortunately were unable to secure the silverware. In 2011 they had another chance at the Intermediate Cup and this time they secured the victory! The 2nds then gained promotion into Junior 1 where they are looking very at home ever since and have appeared in the 2013 Junior Cup final – narrowly losing out to a good North Down side that went on to complete a clean sweep of trophies that year. CSNICC are now a good 2nd XI who are performing well in this grade – high hopes for more success from them in the future.
In 2009 the 4ths won promotion after a very successful league campaign under the captaincy of Ian Gordon. The Thirds, under Michael Graham, won promotion to Section 1 of the Third Division. This was an important step in the development of the Club, as it is essential that the youth and emerging talent within the Club play at the highest level possible to hone their skills. The promotion of the 3rds also means the top three teams in the Club were then playing in the top section of their Division.
The midweek side, consisting of a blend of experience and youth, provide a great opportunity for players to get involved in a fun brand of cricket. Bob Cairnduff was the initial captain and then under the Captaincy of Stevy Ross three years ago, they were crowned midweek champions. This year (2015) they were one victory off making the semi finals. Current Captain, Davy Morton would certainly be looking to go one better next time out – good luck guys!
In 2010 the club fielded for the first time a ladies team. This has proved very popular and continues to thrive under the captaincy of Jenni McRoberts. The ladies team now play in the premier division of the NCU women’s league.
Although the focus in the early years was on securing solid performances by all the senior teams in their relative leagues, the club was also busy hatching plans to develop and improve the youth teams and so the Academy was launched! The purpose of the Academy was to take the more promising of the youth players in the club and give them additional training sessions (including on a one to one basis) both in season and also in the winter during the off season. The success of this venture is now evident in the number of players that occupy the top three teams in the club. The Academy is headed up by Andrew Cowden who has been ably assisted over the years by Stephen Dyer, Robin Johnston, Mike Hodgins, Arthur Ross, Mark Pollard, Robert Morrow and Peter McMorran – their dedication to the cause has been nothing short of remarkable!
This dedication has no doubt helped in the success of the youth teams in the early years of the club. In 2007, the Under 11s stole the limelight from the other junior teams. They won the NCU Quoile Cup, progressed to take the Ulster Cup, and then went on to win the All Ireland Cup, with a convincing win over Pembroke at Stormont.
In 2009 the Under 11s won the Quoile Cup for the third time in the Club's short history – a fantastic achievement. 2011 saw the juniors produce the bulk of the silverware again. The Under 13s won both their League Cup and the Banoge cup competition. The Under 11s won the Quoile cup, the Ulster Cup, and reached the finals of both the All Ireland Cup, and their League Cup competition. The progression of this group of players has seen them lift the Graham Cup at U15 level this year (2015). It bodes well for the club if we can keep this calibre of players together as they progress through the ranks onto the senior teams.
So here we are in 2015, ten years history now recorded and the club well and truly established amongst the top cricket clubs in the NCU - a fantastic start to the new era at Stormont. This has been achieved in no small measure by the dedicated efforts of all the members of the club (playing / administrative / supporters) and will no doubt bring us more success in the future as we all go forward together with one common purpose!