Forget the Ashes, it’s our game that’s dying a slow death

By Danny Caro, August 27, 2009

While the rest of nation is basking in Ashes glory, spare a thought for the Jewish game which is fast dying a death. London Maccabi Vale has, like so many other clubs, been hard-hit by poor availability, with the Maccabiah Games affecting their early season plans.

Sunday’s defeat against West Harrow was the lowest that many at the club have felt for some time. Although the club has a thriving colts section, I sincerely hope that there remains a platform for them to show the quality within Jewish sport for years to come.

While commitment to playing a sport that takes up a considerable amount of time is clearly a pressure, there is a growing trend that the pastime is no longer a priority to the majority of the sports-loving community. The demise of the Stuart Neils National Cup didn’t help. Teams from Cardiff and Bournemouth have come and gone but travelling became an issue. It was the same with teams from Manchester. Not many fancied tiresome journeys only to be forced to turn back due to a downpour. At this level, rearranging a fixture became impossible and teams were not prepared to lose money or waste time.

Over the years, top Jewish cricketers have come and gone. LMV once had a rock-solid team. The names rolled off the tongue but where are they now? Some have lost interest, started families or taken up golf. Former captain Jon Galloway looks set to be the latest to hang up his boots.

It’s not just Vale. Belmont & Edgware are in the same boat. A proposed merger with then arch rivals Vale collapsed several years ago. Belmont later merged with Edgware, but despite the odd decent player being introduced, it has been too few and far between. I fear that this could be the beginning of the end.

Casual Nomads are still going but winning is no longer the be-all and end-all for them. Southgate continue to find new players and play a competitive game. Newlands & Northwood now just play friendlies. Players involved in the well-run Northern Jewish Cricket League seem to be enjoying themselves but the standard isn’t great.

MAL are the exceptions to the norm. They have excelled in bucking the trend as when Mel and Russell Corin did aliyah, their future looked in doubt, with talk of a merger with Belmont. But credit to the likes of Gavriel Lebens and Mark Landau for keeping them afloat. They are now the leading lights in Maccabi cricket, although it’s fair to say that the competition is nowhere near as good as it was several years ago.

Cricket-lover Michael Ziff is working on a formula to keep the Jewish game alive. He is proposing a communal competition, involving synagogue members. Good luck to him, I say, as without the likes of the Belmont & Edgware members, I fear Jewish cricket would sink without trace.

The latest round of friendlies featured some surprises. Premier Division new boys South Manx A thumped London Maccabi Lions A 9-2. Goals from new signing Josh Green and Ben Menahem earned third division UJS Norstar A a 2-1 win over North London Raiders A.

Elliot Castle and Elliot Fox struck as Redbridge Jewish Care C beat Faithfold B 2-1. Southgate Harmen B beat Dynamo FC 3-2, Brixton Old Boys overcame Jewventus 5-2 while FC Marylebone and L’Equipe drew 1-1.

See Danny Caro’s weekend round-up at Email

Last updated: 12:43pm, August 27 2009