I am pleased to present my report to members as your Chairman. May I begin by welcoming those in attendance, and thanks to those for the courtesy of their formal apologies.
My annual review this year has a particular theme: We need your help and support.
Most of what I will report can be improved through members giving more to their club.
As always I will start by reviewing on the field. It is right to review this first as it remains and always will be the club’s priority.
At 1st XI level, it was as disappointing as it could possibly have been. Our pro, Thikshila de Silva, understandably took time to settle on his first visit to the UK. A change of captain early in the season as Pual Houldsworth stoof down, and our – correct – appointment of a young captain coupled with an -inexperienced 1st XI was always likely to contribute towards an inconsistent season. However, to finish second bottom and have to re-apply for election into the league can only be described as disappointing.
We did win more games than the previous season, but it must be acknowledged that in Division 2 we were playing a poorer standard of cricket than in 2018. To finish 11th out of 12 is not a great outcome.
So, the only way is up. We have 2, and we hope to possibly have 3 or 4 new faces looking for 1st XI cricket, joining or re-joining us, and competition for 1st XI places can only be a good thing.
John Seedle once again did an excellent job as coach, and continues to bring a far more structured approach to practice and 1st XI matchdays. Thanks to him for his support and services throughout 2019, and we are delighted to have him again for 2020 and hopefully for many years to come/.
I would personally like to thank Matt Oddie for taking on the role as captain, we believe the youngest captain in our long history. He will only get better as his years and experience progress.
Turning now to the 2nd XI, led by Russell Whalley. We started the seaon very well, winning 5 of the first 6 matches. But the bright start faded, and we finished winning just 4 of the next 14 league games, to finish 7th out of 12 in Division 2. Our 2nd XI is intended to be our breeding ground for future 1st XI cricketers. But the outcome of only one player under the age of 45 scoring more than 170 league runs, and nobody taking 20 wickets or more, is a cause for concern.
Finally, in terms of senior cricket, our 3rd XI secured a top-half finish, with our young players getting opportunities of developing their skills and abilities against good quality opposition. Now, I will be the first to admit I do not see as much 3rd XI cricket as I would like. Nonetheless, in our group of 7, we finished 3rd, winning 6 out of 10 games played. In the inter-group play offs, we lost both games to finish an effective 9th out of 21 which is still a good outcome. We are however one of very few clubs to offer a genuine 3rd XI team. The vast majority of clubs are only able to field a 3rd XI made up of 2nd XI players and younger 1st XI players. The gap between 3rdXI and 2ndXI cricket, particularly in Div 2, is therefore not so large, and helps keep the 2nd XI competitive at times of player unavailability
The most exciting cricket development of the year was in respect of ladies cricket. We are delighted to have our first formal ladies team, and rule changes are on the agenda at tonight’s meeting to place that team on a formal footing. Thanks must go to Vicky Cocken for getting this team off the ground, as we look to add to our offering for our local community. They remain however a small band of individuals which needs your help and support to help them develop.
Turning to junior cricket, we continue to surpass expectations of a club of our size, in our community, surrounded by multiple other clubs. Mick Deasey, and all the junior managers, do a wonderful job. Special thanks must go to everyone involved. We are acknowledged to be one of the top 3 clubs across all age groups together with Clitheroe and Lowerhouse. They have significant, multiple advantages over our club, and we operate in an area which is overpopulated with league clubs. Nonetheless we enter teams at all age groups, almost always in the top divisions available. The teams continue to challenge for honours at all age goups. The challenge for the club is to develop these players into long term 1st XI cricketers. This is difficult, as we also look to balance the interests and rights of other playing members to a meaningful game of cricket
To summarise ourt cricketing performance overall, there is obvious room for improvement, particularly at senior level. That will only come with hard work, dedication and commitment to one another. We need your help and support.
2019 was once again a challenging year, but for more familiar reasons. It was very wet for long periods, which is always challenging for part-time groundstaff with other commitments. We have been fortunate to have had groundstaff over the years who worked for such limited cost. Our only option this year was to look somewhat commercially, and Nathan did a good job in difficult circumstances. The lack of support and volunteers is a concern, but we are hopeful to have more bodies in this regard this year. It will however never be enough, and the cost of his expertise may not be sustainable. We need your help and support.
I would also like to thank those members who have helped out, at different stages. Those litter pickers, fixers, movers and tidyers. You know who you are, and do not do it to seek any recognition. We are very grateful for the silent work you do for the benefit of us all.
Clubhouse and facilities
Notwithstanding the quality of our clubhouse and associated facilities, the annual accounts presented to the meeting speak for themselves. It has not been the successful year that we had hoped for. There are a number of possible reasons for those, and undoubtedly all contribute to the lower bar income and room hire. The committee have acted to replace our former stewardess, and we hope that Becky and her new team will settle in quickly.
The clubhouse remains our main asset, and our major income and revenue stream. We all have to look after it, to keep it as the place to have your function in the local area. We need your help and support.
Memberships & Communications
In terms of membership and subscriptions, we had a slight fall in member number in 2019. Special thanks should go to our secretary Richard Law-Riding who stepped in to help with our subscription and membership processes last year, in the short-term absence of our subscriptions secretary as he became a father for the first time. It is a time-consuming role, which when couple with other club responsibilities meant he did go above and beyond for your benefit as members.
In terms of communication to members and the wider-world, i would like to give particular thanks to Neil Kennedy for his help with match reports, and to everyone who has helped in this regard. We see how far these travel, with people reading them all over the world. There are many who still take an interest in the club.
We are aware that we can be better at communicating what is happening at the club, but we simply don’t have the time to do as much as we would like. To get better, we need your help and support.
Sponsorship & Advertising
I would like to thank to all members who have helped renew, secure and develop existing sponsorship arrangements in 2019. We were by no means perfect, but we did our best with the limited time we have available. We try to bring in new businesses to support what we do, but it is very difficult to do so between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m., and at weekends.
We were previously quite reliant on this as a source of income, and we remain in need of financial support from local businesses. We are working as hard as we can on this, but we just don’t have the time to do what we feel we can. We need your help and support.
The headline numbers showing the significant loss in our accounts may raise an eyebrow or two, but our wonderful treasurer Michael Perrin will discuss these in his report to follow, and in his notes to the accounts.
I would also like to thank our auditor Adam Newton for preparing the formal accounts on behalf of his club. Thanks for your help and support. It remains needed to save us further professional fees.
Once again thanks go to Ian Welsh, and to Shirley Maher for the handover and co-ordination of the 100 Club. It remains a significant income stream for the club, and enables us to make repairs and improvements as and when they are required. Repairs and improvements within our kitchen, and a replacement door to the extended balcony, are just two of the improvements in the last 12 months which the funds raised have been used for the benefit of all members and their guests.
Our Management Committee
We have a very small management committee here at our club at present, which has hovered around the 10 member mark for a number of years. We have 2 part-time employees, for the bar and on the ground. Members should consider what this club offers, and what those individuals deliver for the benefit of everyone who comes to our club.
The people that make up this committee are brilliant, talented individuals. What they achieve on a monthly basis is astonishing. I would not swap any of them, for any committee member, at any other club. They achieve all that they do despite – almost exclusively – having full time jobs, family responsibilities or other voluntary posts.
I invite members to consider your key officials now, here on this top table. We as individuals should not be the members running this club, at our stage in life. But we are in this position, and we do have so many ideas a plans of how we would like to move this club forward. But the lack of numbers – and crucially, free time – prevents us from moving the club forward as fast as we would like.
So we need you. We need your help. More importantly, we need you to commit your time to help.
When you take on a role such as we do, you do so in the hope that you get something back. Not financially, but in a much wider sense. But when you ask 10-12 individuals to manage an organisation like ours, for no pay, and for so long as we have, it becomes disheartening and it is often that disinterest which leads people to walk away. It becomes unenjoyable, and that is the biggest danger this club faces at this time.
New members in the running of the club always bring new ideas, a fresh impetus. We have benefitted in this regard in the last 12 months. But we need your help and support.
It doesn’t need to be formal. It can be a promise to help out with a certain aspect. Training can be given on anything. Your skills are transferable, whenever they may have been acquired. Without the input of more members, this club will only go backwards, not forwards as it is perfectly placed to do so.
Our club remains in a solid position. We have no debt, and some capital reserved for repairs, improvements and developments. Members benefit from a brillaintly talented band of volunteers. But we need your help and support to help this club achieve its potential.
Great Harwood CC Club Chairman
17th February 2020