Black Caps and ANZ help Birkenhead City Cricket Club to Dream Big

This Friday,  the first of the post-Xmas midget games takes place at the club. And on Saturday the juniors return to the playing fields as well, for the second half of the 2015/2016 season. If you weren’t at Birkenhead War Memorial for our extraordinary surprise on Friday January 29, you will notice a bit of a difference at our clubrooms when you return.

The changes were revealed by a swag of Black Caps, courtesy of ANZ Bank’s Dream Big NZ campaign. Adults and children waited patiently in front of a big blue ANZ bus in the late-afternoon sun, with anticipation high after word got out a Black Cap or two could be at our clubrooms. After everyone present was encouraged by Sky TV’s Laura McGoldrick to cheer the bus forward with a “3-2-1-Birkenhead”, all was revealed. Behind the bus and screens was the fabulous makeover of the clubrooms’ facade – and a bunch of Black Caps (Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, BJ Watling, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Tom Latham and Matt Henry)!

The front of our club has been been cleaned and painted, the deck has been cleaned, fixed and painted railings have been added, the long-leaking guttering has been fixed, the roof has been cleaned and painted, there are new lights inside (that work and with lightbulbs we can reach!), we have an honours board, a fabulous timeline of the club’s history, a flag and even tables, sun umbrellas and bean bags. On top of that there was a barbecue and more pizza than needed to feed the small army that turned up on the night.

Club chairman Andrew Gale said the makeover came about after the club was encouraged to present a proposal to PR agency Spark PR & Activate, representing the ANZ, in December. In early January we received news that our proposal had been accepted so the agency, club manager Sabina Croll and Andrew met at the club to flesh out the details of our dream. Initially we had asked for the timeline and the honours board to be installed but the ANZ came up with so much more!

It was a fairly big challenge to keep things secret from the time we found out until January 29 when all was to be revealed, but surprise is a key part of ANZ’s DreamBigNZ.

“The only people who knew about the makeover were the board and Sabina, who were all sworn to secrecy,” says Andrew. “The agency put together a timeline that tried to get as much work done as late as possible when members would not be around, to avoid detection, as the surprise is a key element of the delivery. While we knew that some members might be aware of something going on, e.g. the old scoreboard being removed, we thought we would always say something such as ‘we got a small grant to do some work on the building’.”

There were other people involved who didn’t know why they were being asked to fulfil certain tasks. Club stalwart, former board member Paul Rainey, now co-coach of the men’s Premier side, was one of those.  “Paul Rainey did a fantastic job with the stats for the honours board, pulling a long Sunday to get them done before the deadline of the Monday prior to the unveiling,” says Andrew. Andrew worked on details for the second honours board, of the presidents, chairmen and life members, using the club’s centenary book and other sources. There’s still some detail to be added as some information was left off in the rush, but this will all be fixed up.

“Slade Gill, a contractor for the agency, did a wonderful job of the timeline, he had the centenary book as a reference and we went through about four drafts before finalising everything on the Wednesday before the unveiling,” says Andrew.

The joy on the faces of the children present when they saw the club revamp and the Black Caps was hard to describe. For longtime club members, it was an emotional evening to have something done for us that the club could never have afforded. With the shrinking pool of grants available to sports clubs, we know we are privileged to have received this.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity, probably a once in a generation opportunity, to do something a little bit special to the club,” says Andrew. “To be able to bring the club’s history alive to everyone who walks into the clubrooms is amazing because it gives them the opportunity to engage with the club. Once they’re aware of the club’s history and their role in it, then hopefully they feel better about contributing to it. Plus, the club looks so good now and that will make a great impression on our new members.”

The club has seen good growth this season and is hoping to attract more seniors and juniors to the club in the second half of the season, as well as next season. With a good kick-start to a clean-up around the club, it’s likely a working bee will take place to finish the job in the changing rooms and toilets for example as the clean-up doesn’t seem too insurmountable after the big helping hand from the ANZ.

The ANZ is putting together a video about the event that the club will receive a link to at some point – keep an eye on our Facebook page (give us a like!) and Twitter. Andrew also appeared on The Crowd Goes Wild last Friday (clip to come).

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to do something to showcase our little club to the community,” says Andrew, who has played for the club for about 16 years. “ANZ provided us with a wonderful opportunity and I’d like to thank Sue Hamilton, Mike Harland, Slade Gill and Nick Carter from Spark PR for their assistance in turning our dream to reality.”

Midgets and juniors – good luck with your games this weekend and hope your parents get to enjoy the tables, chairs and bean bags. #dreambigNZ

Watch our video.