Honorary Secretary’s Report, 2015.
At the 2014 AGM, Michael “Baz” Curtis did not seek re-election as Honorary Secretary and I replaced him. Keith Collins, after 40+ years on the committee, and Stuart Smith also stood-down whilst Rob Willoughby, Jack Tidey and Sean Tidey filled the vacancies. In April Tom Greaves resigned as Coach Coordinator and subsequently Richard Barlow was co-opted onto the General Committee in that role. Life Member and former President, Howard Marshall, decided to stand-down from the Committee in May. Howard is irreplaceable! Your General Committee met 11 times during the year with an average attendance rate touching 83% per meeting at the time of writing this report.

There were several pieces of significant business completed during the year. Reed Parish Council wished to formalize our 60-year association. Negotiated by Club Chairman, John Heslam, a 10-year agreement with a 5-year notice to quit clause that protects both the Parish Council and the Club was signed-off. Similarly, a new agreement based on the same lines was made with the Freman College management. RCC pay nothing to the school but in return the playing area is maintained to top class standards with Richard Robertson overseeing the preparation of pitches for school matches in addition to the ones our 3rd and 4th XIs use at weekends. We are indebted to JQH for seeing through these vital safeguards to our future. Thank you John.

Parts of the Club Constitution were thought to be out of date, lacking certain important content and in no particular order. It has been reviewed and the proposed new Constitution will be brought to the AGM this November for members to vote on.

Because of dwindling numbers, we were proactive in trying to attract more Colts by advertising in local newspapers and journals, and with the agreement of schools in the area, we undertook a campaign of “Parent Mail” flyers advertising RCC to pupils. Cilla Robertson, Peter Wholley and the Coaches organized Taster Sessions for prospective new-joiners and were encouraged at the enthusiasm and skills on display. I thank them in their efforts to ensure the Colts Section continues to produce cricketers who aspire to learn skills and enjoy the game. Once more several of the older Colts “graduated” into Open-Age afternoon matches and I am confident the structure is sound but we must endeavour to recruit more young players.

Collecting Subscriptions was made easier by introducing the incentive of a hefty reduction if they were paid promptly by the 1st May. They cost effectively the same as in 2014, and with the 50% reduction for match fees when playing twice in a weekend, Reed CC continues to provide high quality facilities to its members for what is one of the most inexpensive subscriptions in the county.

A Fire Safety Inspection took place satisfactorily during the summer and thanks go to Peter McMeekin who produced a most comprehensive Fire Inspection Logbook. We must ensure that equipment and alarms are checked and recorded and that evacuation training is completed regularly.

A total of £3700 in grants that John Heslam applied for from the NHDC and the ECB went towards purchasing wheeled covers, groundsheets and hosepipes. Luckily they were not damaged when high-winds hit the Green in June but the rolling net was not so lucky and was beyond repair. A new one was acquired. We aim to erect a new secure store for our additional equipment. We have now deployed the white groundsheet cover to Freman College and this certainly saved at least one match from cancellation during this season.

The patio / pathway along the front of the pavilion was finally laid in April. The average age of the workforce was 65 years and 10 months. Additionally, Paul Watts designed and built some smart new wooden steps onto the veranda which enhance the appearance of the club as well as being of a wider tread that make it easier and safer to negotiate.

The Club Committee was pleased to be able to honour both Keith and Rosemary Collins by conferring Life Memberships on them for their continuous long service to the Club. Maseeh Naeem was elected a Vice-President in recognition of his successful five-year period in charge of the Third XI. Michael Robertson took-over as Third Team skipper and Lloyd Bowman became captain of Fourths.

Paul Watts, who was already an ECB-qualified Umpire, attended a course as a “refresher” and scored 100% in the exam. Many players will confirm that Wattsie is one of the soundest umpires they encounter and Reed is very fortunate to have Paul amongst its membership. My congratulations and thanks go to Paul. Additionally, I congratulate both Mike Robertson and Sean Tidey who passed the ECB Coaching Course. Once qualified, Sean delivered the “Chance to Shine” programme in local schools that entailed many hours work.

Steve Hoye suffered heart problems and was hospitalised after playing for the Fourth XI in a friendly match in July. I am glad to report that Steve was soon on the mend after surgery and he hopes to resume playing again in 2016. I wish him all the very best.

Relations with neighbours were threatened by a serious incident of unruly misbehaviour in June. Once identified, the miscreant duly apologized to the neighbour concerned. At the time, negotiations about formalising our agreement with Reed Parish Council were on-going and that this incident happened showed a complete ignorance of the relationship that we try to maintain with the Parish Council and our neighbours. Thoughtless, almost criminal, behaviour is not welcomed at RCC.

The Club was found guilty of transgressing the Herts League Code of Conduct with a social media offence. The Club was warned and one First XI player was banned for 4 matches (3 of them suspended). Later, in a separate incident, a First XI player was found guilty of an offence of dissent on the field of play. That player was banned for 4 matches, (all suspended for 12 months). Furthermore, Reed CC has the threat of penalty points, enforced suspensions, relegations, or expulsion from the League hanging over our heads if members’ future behaviour falls foul of the rules and regulations. Embarrassingly, the Club, (twice), and the two guilty Reed players in these incidents are all “named & shamed” on the SHPCL website. Our long-earned reputation for good, competitive and fair play could be tarnished and dashed in minutes by boorish and immature behaviour. I ask that you simply bear in mind that when representing this Club in public, everything you say or do reflects on all that the Club stands for.

Paul Watts, wearing the hat of Chairman of RCC’s Disciplinary Sub-Committee, has had to deal with these distasteful and time-consuming investigations, and I thank him for completing them in a most efficient, fair and professional manner.

We have enjoyed our usual social activities and I offer thanks to Andrew Emms, Father Christmas and his little helper, “Uncle Pete”; Paul and Marion Watts, who served-up their traditional Curry Evening; Matt Bowles who organised the Annual Quiz and thanks too to the victorious team, Braughing Chipolatas, (i.e. the Walsingham and Hughes families), who kindly donated their prize money to the President’s chosen charity; and to Richard Barlow who arranged a Coaches’ Match in August and raised money for the same charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

President Andrew Emms fell off the scorer’s platform in May and hit his head but thankfully recovered in time to organize his President’s Day Luncheon in August. Andrew reported that with the money raised on the day, donations and other contributions, (some anonymously and of substantial proportions), he would now be in a position to arrange a Screening Day with CRY which aims to identify heart problems in people aged between the ages of 14 and 35.

Although recorded elsewhere, the overall takings at the Club bar were down by approximately £4K on last year. One factor was a less successful run in the National Village Cup. Nevertheless, some occasions throughout the season had been well attended and the Club had also benefitted from village-based events for which our bar was open and substantial extra cash was made. I thank Peter McMeekin for his commitment over the year by managing the bar stocks so well.

On the playing field, a bye and a concession in Rounds 1 and 2 saw Reed through to Round 3 of the National Village Cup where they played their first match, away versus Datchworth. The hosts progressed comfortably to 57 without loss when Mitchell Cooper took the first of his three wickets. But then by taking 5 wickets in 5 deliveries and an eventual 7 in 9, Alex Mutucumarana re-wrote the record-books as Datchworth were reduced to 63 all-out. The ensuing publicity drew attraction from the competition’s organisers who ruled that by playing in one List “A” match for Huntingdonshire some 15 years ago as a student, Alex was ineligible for NVC matches. He was barred from subsequent rounds although the Club was allowed to continue. However, they lost to Langleybury in a tight encounter in the very next round when Reed had been restricted to 156 all-out then in reply, Langleybury reached 157 for 9 with just one delivery remaining. A return visit to Lord’s will have to wait for another year.

Reed First XI easily won their Pool in the Herts County 20/20 Competition but were someway adrift when knocked-out by Hertford in the Quarter-Final. Tom Greaves captained the NVC and 20/20 matches. Sean Tidey took over as the Mid-Week XI skipper but in the Final of the Keatley Cup, Reed lost to Foxton after their batsman, Dave Fagan bashed a superb ton. We hosted Garboldisham on their tour on the 30th June. Reed won by 6 wickets when temperatures were bordering 30 degrees. On our own tour to Nottinghamshire over the August Bank Holiday, we registered two victories whilst a third match was rained-off. Matt Bowles is the perpetual tour organizer so well done and thanks to Matt for arranging an enjoyable weekend.

New Zealander Phil Lill joined us from the Cornwall League and put-in some good performances but serious injuries to key players hampered the First XI’s cause. The Firsts fought back to a mid-table position in the Championship when some tight defeats might have seen them in contention for promotion if the odd run or wicket had gone our way. Eventually, they finished in 5th place. The Seconds, after successive promotions under Marcus Martin, set the pace in Division 5B from early-on and never looked-back. They were not only promoted for the third season running but were also Winners of their Division. Mike Robertson and the Thirds were in Division 8A and had an up-and-down season but I’m sorry to write that they were relegated and will play in Division 8B in 2016. Throughout the season, Lloyd Bowman’s Fourths were Divisional leaders and they remained undefeated until mid-July and lost only 3 matches overall. They too were Winners of their Division and achieved promotion. The Sunday XI played their usual mixture of games against wandering sides, local village clubs and competitive “conference” fixtures. Under captain, MJE Baker, the traditions of village cricket were maintained in their true sense. Whites; red balls; veterans playing alongside and against colts; long-hops; dropped catches; big-hitting; high-scores; cart-wheeling stumps; infuriatingly dobbly bowlers; sunshine; good pitches; superb teas! What more could you want? The Team Captains’ reports are published on the Club’s website. Every player in the Club gave 100 per cent whilst striving for victory. It is what being a member of a Club means and we should enjoy each other’s successes.

We hope to resolve the problem of a lack of a permanent, ECB-qualified Scorer for the First XI by next season. This is a requirement for Clubs in the upper tiers of the SHPCL. Thank you to all of those scorers who helped us out this season, especially Toby Emes, (an U15 Colt), Richard Apperley, (a former player), and Richard Robertson, who covered most of the matches.

As mentioned earlier, Howard Marshall decided to resign from the General Committee. He was instrumental when the Club aspired to greater ambitions and in the 1970s no other local cricket club could boast such luxuries as separate changing-rooms, a bar, a kitchen, toilets and showers. Howard has remained a driving force on the Committee in his more than forty-year association with Reed CC and has seen through extensions and improvements of the facilities that we all enjoy today. It is fair to say that he is the very fabric of this Cricket Club. I thank you Howard.

I shall take a moment to add my thank yous to all my fellow members of the General Committee and others who have supported me throughout the year with various matters. Mostly, I have thanked specific individuals in my report. But additionally, I acknowledge the behind the scenes administration work that Cilla Robertson, (Membership & Registration), and Bethan Smith, (Treasurer), do; it is often unrecognized, but it is so important. As always, “Robbo” deserves our collective thanks for all the work he does on both grounds accompanied by his apprentice, Peter Wholley and consultant, Clive Collins. Much appreciated – thank you. “Baz” Curtis has contributed immensely to this Club over the past two decades. He manages the website and his IT skills are second to none. By RCC members using the ‘easyfundraising’ scheme that he introduced on the website, more than £2,100 has been raised in donations to the Club. And although no longer on the committee, he still supervises the 100 Club which continues to provide extra money. Thanks for everything, “Baz”.

In case you were wondering, I shall now identify the other labourers in the elderly workforce who laid the pathway. And before anyone comments, it is SUPPOSED to be sloping away! Thanks to Graham Smith, Roger Bowcock, Andrew Emms, John Heslam and Peter McMeekin. As I was the youngest member of this group, you can appreciate that to arrive at an average age of almost 66, some of these fellows are more than 70 years-old. Thanks guys.

Finally, it was the end of an era when James Heslam captained the First XI for the last time in a mid-table clash against Stevenage on the Green on the 5th September. Disappointingly, Stevenage won that match, but James’s massive influence and successes must be applauded. Under his leadership, the promotions in recent years in the League culminating in a place in the Championship Division where Reed are not considered “new boys” any longer, and capable of matching any of the big-name clubs on their day, plus the cherry on the cake of the Village Cup victory at Lord’s in 2012 illustrate the passion, commitment and skills James has brought to our Club in an eight-year tenure. I’m sure you would join me in saluting our retiring Club Captain. Thank you James, good luck and enjoy the rest.

Peter G. Baker,
Honorary Secretary, Reed Cricket Club.
October 2015.