Life at the newly named Property Shop Arena did not get off to a winning start, but Accrington Cricket Club believe they are on to a winner with their sponsorship deal.

Property Shop, a specialist lettings agency run by Steven Chippendale and Jamie Allen and based in the town, has ploughed enough money in to keep its local club going for at least the next three years.

The association means Thorneyholme Road has been rebranded with the club having a sponsor for the first time in the club’s 172-year history.

But it’s not just their cash which is set to rejuvenate the club, as chairman Rod Kenyon feels their enthusiasm will be just as invaluable as they seek to appeal to a new audience and grow membership.

“The amount of energy that these two lads are bringing into the club is fantastic,” he said on the day the deal was announced with the help of club legend David Lloyd and 90 local schoolchildren.

“The future is good at Accrington with the junior section coming through with plenty of good lads. But it is fantastic to see all these kids involved. If we get just half a dozen of these signing up to be members it will be great.”

Of the financial benefits, Kenyon added: “It means that we can afford two good coaches for the juniors and senior team, equipment that we badly need and overall it will keep the club going over the next three years at least.

“A few years ago we nearly went out of existence but through other people in the Lancashire League helping us out and certain benefactors we managed to get through it.

“We’re not the only ones in the league that are struggling, but this is a fantastic deal for us.”

But captain Jimmy Hayhurst warned the club cannot rest on their laurels.

At least half the current first team have come through the club’s ranks, showing the production line to be a healthy one. But Hayhurst feels there is even more that could be done and has encouraged the committee to use the cash boost as a means of driving the club forward.

“You’ve got to regenerate yourself every time, players and people come and go, things happen. You have to reinvent yourself and that’s what we’ve been good at doing,” he said.

“It’s only 10 years ago we nearly went out of business, and now with people like David Lloyd getting involved we’ve been able to grow the club again. He can give us a bit of a push publicity wise, and every little helps.

“The sponsorship deal helps secure the off-field stuff, helps you reinvest in your facilities and keep the day to day bills paid and keep moving you forward.

“You’ve still got to keep trying to raise your money but it takes the pressure off, and you feel great about giving a local business the space on your shirt and the naming of your ground.

“But we need to engage more with younger kids.

“We have done well really but you need to have that supply chain and over recent years we’ve not really invested as much time as we should have done and we’re guilty of that.

“It’s awareness with a lot of it. We’ve got to get them out from behind computer screens and iPads and onto grass and playing cricket and enjoying being part of a team and playing some sport.

“In society today I don’t think a lot of people want to do it, I think sometimes schools are a bit afraid of doing for health and safety reasons.

“You’ve got to engage with them as early as possible. Once they’re hooked that’s when you’ve got to retain them.”

Hayhurst, who came through the club’s junior ranks to now captain the first team, added: “I’m 34 and the oldest man in the dressing room.

“It only seems like five minutes ago I was a junior.

“I think once family gets involved there’s so many people that get involved and that breeds your next committee man, your next groundsman, your next helper on a Sunday morning.

“Every little helps.”

In terms of an immediate goal, Accrington are pushing for a top half finish to ensure they will be playing first division cricket when the 24-team Lancashire League splits into two next season.

“Minimum requirement we want to finish in the top half.

“We’ve got an outside change of finishing in the top five or six if we play to our potential. That’s always been the key!”