Maxwell ‘quietly confident’ Hucknall can spring a surprise in Notts Premier League

ROBIN MAXWELL -- "everyone expects us to go straight back down", says Hucknall's captain and prolific all-rounder, who has steered the club into the Notts Premier League for the first time in their 126-year history.
ROBIN MAXWELL -- "everyone expects us to go straight back down", says Hucknall's captain and prolific all-rounder, who has steered the club into the Notts Premier League for the first time in their 126-year history.
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Google the name Robin Maxwell and you are confronted by “an American historical novelist, author and writer”.

Writing his own little piece of history in Hucknall sport is the Robin Maxwell who really matters, captain and inspirational leader, on and off the pitch, at Hucknall Cricket Club.

Since joining the club seven years ago, the 31-year-old all-rounder has steered them to three promotions. And now he says he is “quietly confident” that they can cope with the next giant stride in their progression, which means rubbing shoulders with the best non-professional clubs on the county circuit in the Notts Premier League (NPL).

“Everyone expects us to go straight back down, but I think we can cause a few surprises,” said Maxwell.

“We are under no illusions, and we know it is going to be difficult. But it is a great chance for the guys to test themselves at the top level.

“We have quality in our side and our team spirit has been proven over the years. Our ground is a big advantage too. No teams will enjoy coming here.

“I want everyone to enjoy the season but, ultimately, our main aim is to establish ourselves as a Premier League club.”

Maxwell is also sure Hucknall have the facilities and infrastructure to handle the demands of the NPL. Their private New Gatehouse Ground, off Hayden Lane, has been upgraded and improved in recent season. Their youth set-up, headed by club stalwart and vice-chairman David Wagstaff, now runs teams from U10s to U15s. And their finances, carefully monitored by chairman Martin Cassidy, have enabled them to bring in Notts CCC batsman Jake Libby and to retain South African wicketkeeper/batsman Dale Campbell, who plundered more than 1,000 runs last term, as their two professional players.

“It is imperative that we have two good pros at this level, so we have to find ways of making the money to pay them,” said Maxwell.

“We are always looking for sponsors, but we have had two good years with social fundraising. We are trying to make the club as inclusive as possible, so that people come and watch, use the bar and get involved. We also have a good social secretary, Brian Pickering, who is my right-hand man.

“It’s important to become self-sustainable, but at least we don’t have to pay thousands of pounds, like many NPL clubs do, for a groundsman. Martin, who is the heartbeat of the club, does it for free.

“We have the people in place, and we have the facilities. It’s all here.”

Maxwell’s own form will be key to Hucknall’s NPL survival. In five consecutive seasons, he topped the Gunn and Moore South Notts League’s batting charts. And although he wasn’t as prolific last summer when his side recovered from a poor start to be crowned champions, he still fired 607 runs at an average of 46.69.

“Dale Campbell ran me out in the first game, and I didn’t make another run until mid-season!” he said. “Even when I was scoring runs, I never felt I was in form. However, Dale made a massive difference. He took a lot of weight off my shoulders, not only with his runs but also in the dressing-room with team-talks.”

Maxwell’s men launch their historic NPL campaign at home to Plumtree on April 23. After the demise of John Birch, which led to the disbandment of Rolls-Royce Leisure, and the unlucky failure by a whisker of Papplewick and Linby to regain their NPL status last season, Hucknall are flying the flag for Dispatch district cricket. They don’t intend to let anyone down.