WORKSOP Cricket Club has been dealt a double blow, with the departure of a financial backer and one of the stars of last season’s Championship winning team.
Craig Buckingham, owner of Red Rock Onsite Services, ploughed £20,000 into the club with a sponsorship deal early last year, and backed Worksop to promotion into the Notts Premier League.
But he confirmed this week that he has ended his association with the Central Avenue men, claiming his ‘personal integrity’ had been questioned by some at the club.
And in a further blow, batsman Vipinlal Manikoth has been unable to renew his visa and has been forced to return to India.
Buckingham’s departure stems from his belief that he had been undermined at the club.
He told the Guardian: “I won’t be working with Worksop moving forward. Over the past couple of years there has been certain factions that have resented my involvement and that has manifested in verbal attacks on associates of mine from time to time and the spreading of malicious gossip.”
“We’ve been very successful in the last two years, we’d started to regenerate the club and were moving the right way – perhaps some people didn’t like that. But when something stops being fun and personal integrity is questioned, then I walk away.”
The businessman’s exit is a ‘shame’, according to chairman Glenn Pym, who replaced long standing chair Ray Black a month ago and refused to be drawn on the reasons for the split.
He said: “We can’t comment on Craig’s decision, but he will be missed as a supporter and a sponsor. All I can do is thank him for all the support he has given, the same kind of thanks we would give any of our sponsors.”
The club member of more than 30 years added: “Whatever we could do to maintain his involvement we’ve tried, but there’s something that’s not reparable at the moment.”
But he insists that Worksop, who are set to ply their trade in the county’s top flight this summer, will carry on regardless with the backing of other sponsors.
“We’ve got a second large sponsor in DTH Engineering who have remained with the club and have been with us for quite some time,” he said. “We’ve got several other sponsors who put in not insubstantial sums, amounts that will enable us to continue running, and we will do the best we can as a club.”
Meanwhile first team captain Luke Ambrose has lamented the loss of batting star Manikoth, who hit over 600 runs in the Bassetlaw Championship last season.
The skipper said: “Lal will be a big loss to the team, and I, along with others at Worksop Cricket Club, will also miss him as a very good friend.”
Manikoth’s application for a visa extension was rejected, despite support from Buckingham’s company Red Rock who were attempting to seek a sponsorship license for him.
Although he’s excited by job offers from contacts in the Middle East, he admits he’s disappointed to leave Central Avenue.
He told the Guardian: “Worksop CC is one of the best clubs I have played my cricket with in the UK.”
“The players, including juniors, family members and club officials have always made me feel welcome. First team captain Luke Ambrose and my close friend Craig Buckingham made my stay an enjoyable one and the last two years on and off the field have given me loads of memories to treasure.”
Manikoth, who counts the back-to-back promotions as his highlights at Worksop, has played three two-day games for Bharat Petroluem Corp Ltd and has notched two tons already.
“It was really disheartening to leave all the familiar faces at Worksop, but if I come back to the UK I would definitely be back at Central Avenue on a Saturday afternoon enjoying all the banter from the lads.”