When the Aberdeenshire village of Methlick announced in the early part of the century it was going to build a cricket ground, it created a stir in the north-east.
It was a time when the game was suffering a downturn in fortunes, not least in attracting numbers into the game.
But, undaunted, the mighty men of Methlick ploughed ahead, and by 2004 had built only the second new cricket pitch in Scotland since 1949 on the bonny banks of the River Ythan, thanks in part to the generosity of the local laird, Lord Aberdeen – a cricketer of note who had opened the batting at Lords in the Eton versus Harrow game.
Appropriately the new ground was named Lairds and, for the princely sum of a bottle of malt whisky per year, Methlick CC were able to call it home, although the overall cost of the exercise was in excess of £250,000.
The then club secretary Jay Allan, a driving force, said: “It was a real community effort in which the whole village participated, and nearly 20 years later still do. I just love the game, but I also love the way in which the people of Methlick rallied round.
“We recognise their efforts each year with a gala day which raises money for good causes in the village.
“It has been a privilege to be part of the story. The only downside was the death of our benefactor, Lord Aberdeen, in March of this year.
“The club lost a great friend that day.”
Club chairman Mark Woodhouse, a prolific run scorer for the first team, was equally pleased to be part of one of the great success stories in north-east sport.
“I am very proud of the progress the club have made since coming into the Aberdeenshire Grades.
“We are one of the few teams who have a second team.
“Currently we are in Grade 2, a position which suits us fine, giving us the opportunity to play games against our old friends Ellon Gordon and Fraserburgh.
“I am hopeful we will be able to get some friendly matches fitted in August and September.
“We have also been privileged to have hosted a number of cup finals at Lairds, making us more friends in other leagues in the Grades set-up.
“We owe much to Jay who has been untiring in his quest to keep ‘the MCC’ on the north-east cricket map.”
Charlie Allan, father of Jay, was a prime mover in getting the project off the ground and is still a regular at games, although unlike his son no longer plays.
Visiting clubs have also been quick to sing the praises of the enterprise of Methlick, including Ben Webb, captain of derby rivals Ellon Gordon.
“I started my Grades adventure at Methlick as a 14-year-old who had just come back from South Africa,” he said.
“I was immediately impressed by the picturesque ground and the great hospitality.
“I can easily count it as Ellon’s favourite away venue and always a competitive experience.
“I just hope we get a game there this season.”