What’s a Meraloma?
According to the Metro Vancouver Cricket League, it’s the name of a cricket team. But after visiting the team’s clubhouse and talking to their president and vice president, I discovered that the team is not named after a person or a place.
Meraloma is a portmanteau. The Meraloma Athletic Club was established in 1923 by twelve young swimmers, who originally called themselves the Mermaids. Two years later, they took the ‘mer’ from mermaid, the ‘al’ and ‘om’ from the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and omega, and the ‘a’ from always. The motto, “Mermaids, first, last and always,” sticks with the club to this day.
It hasn’t always been the motto for the cricket team though. Before 1989, the Meraloma cricketers were part of the Vancouver Rowing Club. According to Once a Mermaid: The Meraloma Club 1923-1998, the Rowing Club cricketers sought membership with Meraloma for two reasons: the amount of time they already spent at Connaught Park and the “continued indifference” of the Rowing Club’s executive. But Jeff Ryan, president of the Meraloma Cricket Club, said the Rowing Club wanted the cricketers to help fund a new building in Stanley Park. So they joined Meraloma instead to spend more time in the brilliant clubhouse, Connaught Park field house.
The field house has housed the Meralomas since the 1940s. Extensive renovation and preservation work in the late 1970s led to its designation as a heritage building in 1981. Now, the building has home and visitors’ changing rooms, a “refreshments” area, a darts room and a furnished apartment for players visiting from overseas!
But it is not quite time for cricket yet. During Vancouver’s rainy winters, cricket hibernates. Even preseason depends on the weather. “We might have training this weekend, depending on the rain,” said Ryan.
The Meralomas are getting anxious for the start of the season, especially after last summer’s successes. Three of four squads won their respective divisions in 2009, nearly a whitewash.
Thankfully, the first cricket of the season begins this weekend. On March 20, Vancouver’s other cricket league, the British Columbia Mainland Cricket League are hosting a Twenty-20 tournament that is scheduled to run until the middle of April.
I’ll update later this week on the continuing debate over Twenty-20 cricket.