The latest AGM in November 2015 saw several changes in the Club’s General Committee and Officers. Most notably was that of Tom Greaves becoming Club Captain after James Heslam’s successful 8-year reign. James himself took over from father John as the Fundraising Officer and thus remained on the Committee. Ian Osborne who had joined only earlier in 2015 stepped into the vacancy of Colts Liaison Officer that Peter Wholley had performed for a number of years in conjunction with his dual role of Fixture Secretary. Peter continued with the Fixtures. Mike Robertson had lost-out in the vote for Committee members “Without Portfolio” at the AGM but when some issues arose about the withdrawal of our storage space at Freman College, Mike was co-opted onto the Committee to act as liaison. In May, Mitchell Cooper resigned from the Committee for family reasons and William Heslam was invited to replace him as the Under 25 representative. To date, the General Committee has met on five occasions with a 68% attendance. The newly-introduced Executive Committee met six times with an attendance rate of 76%.

I thank all past and present club members who have served on the Committee. Without them, the Club, as we know and enjoy it, would cease to function.

A major portion of business at that AGM was to accept the revised Constitution. This created significant changes to the running of the Club by introducing an Executive Committee, (which is entrusted to manage the Club), and a Playing Sub-Committee under Paul Watts’s chairmanship and which is responsible for Team Selection, Disciplinary issues and choosing annual awards winners. Also, we formalised the position of Membership Secretary as a separate role. Cilla Robertson has been responsible for membership issues for a decade or more by combining it with her position as Welfare Officer. She continues to wear both hats but it is recognised that they are two vastly different portfolios.

Several more playing members have qualified as ECB Coaches during the past 12 months and under Richard Barlow’s organisation, have coached our youngsters at both indoor and outdoor practice sessions since January, by sharing their skills and knowledge. Richard Barlow, Sean Tidey, Michael Robertson, Tom Walsingham and Rob Lankester did the bulk of this coaching. Thanks to them. Additionally, Sean Tidey continues to be very involved in the “Chance to Shine” scheme that brings cricket coaching right inside local schools.

Because of the age-profile of our Colt members, this season we did not run an Under 13 section but an Under 12 group instead. As you will read elsewhere, the Under 11s finished second in their Division of the Cambridgeshire Youth Cricket Association, (CYCA), and also played in the Herts Summer League. The Under 12s took fourth place in Pool 2 of Hertfordshire Junior League 12A and the Under 15s, who were bolstered by several players from the younger age group, came joint first of their Division of the CYCA League. Well done. It takes time and effort to stage junior cricket and I thank the Match Managers, Neil Gardner, Ian Osborne, Cilla Robertson and Bill Mansfield for taking this on and extend that thanks to parents for assisting, transporting and supporting during the matches.

The final Colts’ session in July was identified as the Waitrose-sponsored Club Open Day with the aim of attracting young friends to try cricket. Although the Colts’ structure at Reed is sound, we must continue in our endeavours to recruit more young players if we wish to provide decent competitive cricket in the future.

Improvements to the pavilion and ground this year included: leveling the driveway and car-park; internal redecoration of the clubhouse by John Heslam and Roger Bowcock; reorganising displays of memorabilia and reframing many photographs, including mini-biographies of the various Club Captains, by JQH; replacing the shutter for the bar after the original one had finally worn-out after about 40 years’ service; removing the platform and making a slightly different lay-out in the scorebox in an effort to avoid trip hazards / falls; installing a small repeater scoreboard on the veranda so that players and spectators can see the score easily. We also passed a NHDC H&S Inspection during August.

On the equipment front, new shock-pads were inserted in the bowlers’ run-ups for the nets and a new wind-down type sightscreen was bought for use at Freman College because the damaged metal-framed screen had finally given up the ghost. To comply with ECB criteria for participating in a Premier Cricket League we had to purchase a Water Hog, (a sort of spongy, foam-based roller), for a thousand pounds and also install two extra electric showers. I know that the showers have been used – the Water Hog has not been required! Thanks go to Dennis Easley for his work on the electrical circuitry for the showers and additional external lighting and also to Bill Mansfield for his plumbing skills.

The President, Andrew Emms, with the funding he had raised in the past two years, arranged the Screening Day for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), for 17th September. CRY aims to identify heart problems in people aged between 14 and 35. (This is something brought home to cricketers recently with the enforced retirement of 25 year-old England batsman, James Taylor, who was discovered to have a heart condition.) All 100 time-slots in the day were filled as the Clubhouse was transformed into temporary consulting-rooms and I record my thanks to Andrew in particular for his foresight and tremendous work in raising the donations to make this worthwhile event happen.

The usual social functions were organised and enjoyed by members. Last November, the Annual Dinner and Presentation of Awards was held at the Old Bull Inn, Royston. The same venue will host this season’s Dinner on Friday 18th November. Owing to a serious injury to Andrew Emms in December, the annual visit by Santa Claus was put in jeopardy, but thankfully, Jack Tidey, (before his own serious injury that prevented him playing at all this year), was on-hand to give Santa a lift to the Clubhouse to provide a lot of fun to the youngsters. Paul and Marion Watts laid-on another of their super Curry Nights in May and this year’s Quiz in July, with Matt Bowles as Question Master, was won by a team consisting of Tom Greaves, Sam Summers, Mike Robertson, Chloe Harrison, Sam Bowles and James “JP” Prime. This year, the format for President’s Day was a double-wicket competition that saw Julien and Toby Fynn overcome Will Heslam and former-colt, Ollie Benham, in the Final on 31st July.

The Reed Village Hall Committee organise an annual Bonfire and Fireworks Party every November on the Green. Our Clubhouse bar is open for custom and traditionally this is a well-attended and successful evening. RCC’s profits benefitted wonderfully last year and thanks must go to Peter McMeekin for his hard work behind the bar. Bethan Smith usually performs First-Aid duties too – thank you. The Bonfire Night falls on Saturday the 5th November in 2016; come to support and enjoy yourselves.

Peter McMeekin has made a very detailed and comprehensive review of Bar sales and Stock Evaluation. Sales are down by approximately £218 on last year and there are many factors affecting this. But Peter and his sub-committee are looking at ways to halt this trend, or at least minimise the effects that current drinking habits have on the club bar profits. Peter is very often under-appreciated but he is incredibly dedicated and spends hours of his free time trying to find ways for our Club offer drinks at competitive prices and make the clubhouse somewhere we can enjoy socialising with one another.

Perhaps unknown to many members, the Hertfordshire Premier Cricket League (SHPCL) was one of five Premier Leagues in the UK trialing a new disciplinary code this season. There are 4 levels of transgressions, ranging from dissent to physical assault and these are dealt with by penalties that could see players “sin-binned” for a period of overs, or even sent-off in the most serious of cases. Teams would likely forfeit points and Clubs penalised too. I am glad to report that Reed CC had no disciplinary issues this year. It remains to be seen what conclusions have been drawn from the trials in the five various Leagues.

In addition to having to provide an ECB-Qualified Umpire for our Second XI matches, participation in the Herts. Premier League also requires a fully-qualified Scorer for our First XI matches. In those eighteen matches, the League provides neutral Umpires from a pool – they receive £60 each per match. As computers and electronic software is now used in their matches, there will be occasions when the Duckworth-Lewis method will need to be applied in some rain-affected games because the calculation has to be instantly available at the press of a button! You can see that cricket is not inexpensive.

I shall not go into too much detail about the individual teams’ performances; you can read reports from their respective captains. However, I thought that we may well have been on the road to Lord’s again this year once Reed had won through to the last 16 clubs of the competition by reaching the 6th Round of the National Village Cup. Playing eventual beaten finalists, Sibton Park, (from Kent), Karl Ward could have done with an extra half-metre on his bat as he was run-out requiring one more run off the final delivery of the match. How disappointing!

In the Herts League, the length of matches in the Regional Divisions reduced our 4th XI games to 80 overs but otherwise the formats were the same as had been tried the previous year. Half of the games are limited overs, (i.e. 50/50 for the 1sts, 2nds and 3rds and 40/40 for the 4ths), and the remaining half of the fixtures are played as “time matches”, with the possibility of a draw as an outcome. Again injuries and lack of availability across the season did not help the cause. I cannot recall a week when the teams selected on a Monday took to the field without some drop-outs or changes by the Saturday. The knock-on effect every time was to the Third XI, (which I think managed to play only once with a genuine, full-strength team), and more so, to the Fourth XI where Lloyd Bowman again worked wonders pulling-in colts, parents and past-players to fill the eleven places in his team. The final positions in the League reflected this. The Firsts, in Tom Greaves’s first season in charge, managed a mid-table sixth place in the Championship Division, (it should have been fifth, but they were penalised 10 points for twice failing to provide a Scorer – see my comment above). Similarly, it was fifth place in Division 4B for the Seconds under Marcus Martin who, after leading them to three successive table-topping promotions, will be standing-down, (well done and thank you Marcus). Two battering seasons culminating in final position and relegation from Division 8A have taken their toll on Mike Robertson who will also not be seeking re-election as skipper of the Thirds, which is a difficult pivotal role. The Fourths finished fourth in Regional Division B East despite some wondrous batting performances from Martin Johnson who scored three successive centuries, each undefeated. We think this is a record that not even the well-remembered and high-scoring Brian Bevan managed to achieve in his purplest of purple patches!

Reed failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Herts County T20 competition this year and although we were “ founder members” of a new midweek 20/20 League involving six north Hertfordshire clubs, we withdrew without playing. Work / life / leisure pursuits have changed in the past decade or so and players are no longer readily available to turn-out on summer evenings for a variety of reasons. It maybe sad for those of us looking back through rose-tinted spectacles, but in this modern age it is understandable and inevitable. How long will it be before afternoon weekend games will just be 20/20 thrashes, with no teas and no post-match socialising?

That stated, a change in the format of the Keatley Cup brought dividends. Over recent years, this midweek evening knockout had suffered from the same difficulties and lack of available players so the organisers came up with a six-a-side format. Hosted by Royston CC at Therfield in July, four teams, Royston, Thriplow, Lord’s Taverners Buccaneers and Reed competed in round-robin matches followed by a final between the top two teams. Reed’s Cup-winning team that overcame LTB in the Final was M.J.E. Baker (Captain), Joe Graves, Rhodri Hughes, Rob Lankester, Sean Tidey and Tom Walsingham. Rob was adjudged as Player of the Competition.

Traditions were kept alive by Marcus Baker’s “Friendly” Sunday XI which was matched against local clubs and perennial opponents. We saw some marvellous personal achievements that I know “MJEB” will highlight in his report. It is heartening that so many members and friends do make the trip to Reed to watch, support and hopefully enjoy the whole ethos of village cricket.

Thanks to those of you who support our 100 Club monthly lottery. It gathered £1,320 profits this year when there were 25 different winners. There are plenty more unallocated balls in the drum – please think about joining. Monthly prize money is £80, £40 and £20.

One of our valued Vice-Presidents died in April this year. Alan Deville was a larger than life character and a significant and generous supporter of local youth sports clubs. Being the father of former Colt, Sam, who still occasionally plays, Alan underwrote the funds that enabled Reed CC to establish and implement our ground arrangement with Freman College in Buntingford. We are indebted to his vision and generosity. I am sure that those that remember him will wish to join me in extending our sympathy and condolences to his widow, Sue, and son, Sam.

Within days of the end of the season, the cricket squares had been “put to bed”. The pitches scarified, top-dressed and re-seeded; the sightscreens parked for the winter; the covers folded and packed away and the nets taken down and stored. “Robbo” has even had time to take a holiday now! But he is itching to get his mower out, even if it is just to clear-up the fallen autumn leaves that are strewn across the Green. The setting at Reed Green is picture perfect, which we hope villagers appreciate. Thank you to Richard Robertson and his “gang” of Peter Wholley and Clive Collins who maintain that picture and make life so much easier to those of us that merely turn-up to play.

And on the same topic, thank you to all the (mostly) ladies who support the (mostly male) players every match by providing excellent teas and refreshments. Again I ask, do we appreciate everyone and everything that goes on behind the scenes that allows a bunch of blokes just enjoying playing a game with their mates every weekend? What else could you volunteer to do to help?

Peter G. Baker,
Honorary Secretary, Reed Cricket Club.
October 2016.