We received a lovely email from Derek who wanted to share some information about Cricket in Bulgaria with us… have a read and please give their Facebook page a like if you’re interested in more information!
Just discovered your site, a little like cricket, it has only taken six years to find.
I guess quite a few Ex Pats (not a term a like) are cricket lovers and are not aware that the beautiful sport is played here.
Indeed it is on the curriculum at the National Sports Academy and BG has an International team. Professor Nikolai Kolev is the President of the Bulgarian Cricket Federation. I understand that there are several clubs in the Sofia area, too far from my home near Sevlievo.
I accidentally discovered a Cricket Club close to home, it is Called Gabrovo Blacksmiths. Until recently all their matches were away from home as they did not have a ground. It has taken the guys six years of hard work but finally they now have a ground to call home in the village of Armenite. It has taken six years of pooling their own money and their spare time labour to develop the ground. Yes six years! They purchased the land, cleared it of trees and shrubs, put in drainage and levelled it. They paid to have a borehole sunk for irrigation yet still await EON to deliver an electrical supply. The next major project is fencing, urgently needed to prevent the Wild Boar and Deer digging it up. Then the development of a proper cricket square and strips. All this without sponsorship or grants. These guys are working class blokes and their enthusiasm and work ethic is an inspiration.
The first and only match this season took place on August 26th against a team from Sofia. Next season the Blacksmiths are hoping to get regular fixtures and maybe even the odd British club touring BG. Long term the goal is a pavillion with showers and changing rooms and the introduction of coaching in the local schools. The club Captain and English Cricket Board qualified coach is Ivailo Katarski. Ivailo is also A Bulgarian International player.
After six years of waiting, just like London buses another local (to me) cricket club pops up. This team at present are all ex pats. A Scotsman, an Ulsterman, the rest English except for the Australian Captain. The club play their cricket at the Gostilitsa Football Stadium. Last week they held their first match, supported by the village Mayoress and the Mayor of Dryanovo region. It was timed to coincide with the annual village festival and sponsored by English businessman Neil Penn. Neil owns a fleet of vintage cars and takes tourists around the country in these ancient Classic Cars.
Again the visiting team honouring the club at the inaugural match was from Sofia. The result was a win for the youngsters from the Academy bolstered by four of the Gabrovo Blacksmiths. I watched both of these matches and thoroughly enjoyed them. They were friendly yet competitive and the sportsmanship demonstrated by these young Bulgarian lads was unique, quite humbling. For Gostilitsa Cricket Club last man standing was not the last man but the last woman. Julie Draysey showed the GCC men a thing or to when it came to batting and fielding. Julie managed something the Gostilitsa men could not and kept her wicket intact, not out!
Saturday 21st October Gostilitsa host the Blacksmiths. I am disappointed that I cannot be there to spectate. I have fractured a vertebra and finding it quite sore. I am looking forward however to hearing about the match from the Blacksmiths boys. Incidentally the Gabrovo Cricket Club have honoured me by making me the first foreign member of the club. Sadly my playing days are over following four hip replacements and two shoulder replacements however they have my unequivocal support and I am assisting with the admin. At present I am desperately trying to drum up interest and hopefully attract a sponsor to help towards the cost of development.
If you’d like more information about cricket in the Gabrovo area do not hesitate to ask. I have started a facebook page for them called Gabrovo Kricket Klub @blacksmithscc. The more likes the page gets the greater the chance of a sponsor!