Jordaan saga casts shadow

Lancashire Evening Telegraph

25 August 1997

ON the surface the Corrie Jordaan saga is settled.

Following last Monday's passionate extra-ordinary general meeting Jordaan was offered a new contract and is happy to return to Lowerhouse next summer.

But what kind of club he returns to remains to be seen.

Because the Jordaan affair has split the club in two, turning members against the players and in some cases friends into enemies.

Over 130 people turned up at the meeting-compared to 35 at last winter's AGM-though Jordaan and the Press were asked to stay away.

The members wanted the South African bowling star to return. The players wanted to look elsewhere.

The vote, 57 to 51, divided the club in two. And while Jordaan is coming back his relationship with the players seems to have been irrevocably soured.

Publicly they have vowed to back him 100 per cent but there is a lingering bitterness about the whole affair and the way it has been handled. Chairman Ken Smalley refused to comment on rumours that he might quit simply saying it was a matter for the club's AGM and no-one else's business.

As the rain washed off their clash against Church on Saturday Lowerhouse skipper Matt Hope had plenty of time to reflect on the week's events.

Surrounded by his team-mates (Jordaan was a notable absentee) clustered around the TV watching Michael Atherton's men triumph Hope has had to shoulder plenty of flak.

``We have been cast as the bad guys and yet all we did is offer an opinion,'' he said still bitter by some of the criticism he has faced from fans and the media alike.

``When we first discussed offering Corrie a new contract I felt we should agree new terms but not sign them until we had explored other avenues.

``For one, I wanted to make sure he was still keen right up until the end of the season.

``The next thing I knew was when I picked up the paper to say he had signed a new deal.

``And in my opinion, and that's all it is, I felt we needed a pro who could dominate on both sides of the wicket with both bat and ball.

``Corrie has done a great job but I felt our amateur batting has had too much pressure on it.

``The wickets here have been cut to suit Corrie but not our batters and their form has suffered because of it.

``Added to that our amateur bowling is very strong.

``Over the past three years our amateur bowling has been as good as anything in the league.''

Hope's opinion was shared by the rest of his team-mates but they clearly never wanted this stand-off with a pro whos arrival heralded a new professionalism at Lowerhouse.

``Corrie Jordaan's attitude as a professional is the best that I can remember,'' said Hope.

``He has helped me a lot and he bowls like a dream. But some of the things that have happened and have been said over the past four weeks have really upset me. ``People have questioned our grit and steel and suggested we go and play our cricket elsewhere at a lower level.

``That really hurts.

``Because the players' spirit here is our biggest asset.

``I know as captain that no-one ever gives anything less than 100 per cent.

``There have been suggestions that we should try and attract better amateurs and, believe me, we are trying to do that all the time.

``But players here have to work behind the bar after matches and get stuck in working on the ground in the winter. They are the sorts of jobs players at other clubs don't have to do and obviously put people off coming here.

``But we have to do it otherwise the club would struggle to survive.

``And that's why it is so upsetting when people question our commitment.

``If there is a good thing to come out of all this it is that it has brought the players even closer together.''

Despite the rumblings of discontent Lowerhouse have maintained their title challenge and Hope lives up to his name: ``We still have a chance of winning the league or at least finishing second which we have only ever done once before.

``So it would be nice if those 130 people who turned up at the meeting came and cheered the side on.''

It would be a crying shame if Lowerhouse, who have a reputation as one of the friendliest clubs in the league, ended their long wait for glory in a season with such bad blood among their keenest followers.

But I fear the Jordaan saga has more twists in the coming months and if key personnel do leave it is the club that will suffer.

Source: The Lancashire Evening Telegraph

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:13