Cowplain still Cruising after all these years

Susanna Smith, centre, in action for Cowplain Cruisers against Heaven Sent at Furze Lane. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (112067-3)
Susanna Smith, centre, in action for Cowplain Cruisers against Heaven Sent at Furze Lane. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (112067-3)
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Cowplain Cruisers have proved they had nothing to fear from Portsmouth League division two.

Formed 14 years ago as an adult education class at Cowplain School, the club won promotion last season.

They were so apprehensive about the jump, though, they requested the league leave them in division three.

Injuries have hampered the club’s progress ever since they were formed and captain Nicky Prosser was keen to avoid the added headache of second division netball.

But promoted they were and their form this season has justified that move.

They are currently sitting pretty in fourth spot, as Taylor Cocks and Choclate Fountain Heaven set the pace.

Prosser said: ‘I have to say we were extremely concerned about being promoted this season.

‘We even requested not to be moved as we were so short of players and umpires at this level.

‘However, we have surprised ourselves with some of our performances.

‘We were in fourth place at the halfway point of the season. The standard of umpiring has been strong and we have learned a lot about our game.

‘It’s not bad for a team whose average age is 45 and average height is about 5ft 5in!’

The club originally entered two teams in the league but the Cruisers are the only side remaining.

Annie Allan is the last survivor of the early days, while Ange Taylor and Prosser have been involved for 12 years.

Cruisers have been a yo-yo side for most of their existence, jumping between divisions three, four and five on a regular basis.

However, due to a re-shuffle by the league, third place in division three last term was enough to see them promoted to division two – their highest ever position.

But the team spirit and sporting values engendered in those early days remain as strong as ever.

‘We consider ourselves to be a friendly team,’ said skipper Prosser.

‘We are competitive but fair on the court, always supporting our players and never getting on each other’s backs – no matter what. At the end of the day we all play for pleasure and have a great team spirit.’

A quick look behind the scenes reveals a strong foundation, too.

The captain said: ‘We are very grateful to our umpires Julie Braithwaite, who was assessed last week and is now able to do division one games, and Susanna Smith, who is division-two qualified.

‘And Elaine Firbank – one of the original members of the team – who still acts as treasurer even though she is no longer able to play through injury.’

The team were rocked by an injury to Cathy Rose, who broke her elbow last term before undergoing a hip replacement.

‘We are really hoping she may get back sometime next season,’ said Prosser.

‘But through both injuries she has continued to turn up at the court to support us, even on crutches.’

Jenni Hall is also on the mend following a finger dislocation back in February.