Honorary Secretary’s Report, 2017.

I have routinely begun this Report by detailing the changes of personnel on the Club’s General Committee; this year, that is secondary. The most significant change to our Club came with the death in September of our twice-Past President, Howard Marshall, at the age of 82. He had been in declining health for some months. I am sure you will have your own memories and anecdotes of and about Howard and I don’t intend to reproduce them here. All I shall state is that without Howard’s massive influence, commitment, hard-work and leadership for almost half-a-century, Reed Cricket Club and its players would not be where they are today. Thank you Howard. We look forward to next season when in a ceremony at which we hope members of his family will be present, we shall be naming the Clubhouse, the Howard Marshall Pavilion in his honour.

Last autumn, it was a shock to me to receive an indication from John Heslam that he would not be seeking re-election as Club Chairman nor as Committee Member at the 2016 AGM. More on that later. Others of the 2015/6 Committee who also stood down for various reasons were Marcus Martin, Ian Osborne, Mike Robertson, Graham Smith, Jack Tidey, Paul Watts and Rob Willoughby. I thank them all for their parts in managing the Club and all the tasks they have collectively carried-out over the years. Putting themselves forward to Committee positions at the AGM were Phil Frenay, (2nd XI Captain), and Peter Tidey (without portfolio). Matt Bowles ceased being Social Secretary and took over as Playing Sub-Committee Chairman, Cilla Robertson added Colts Liaison to her roles as Welfare Officer and Membership Secretary. Although already on the Committee as Sunday XI Captain, Marcus Baker became 3rd XI Captain. Outside the Committee Jack Tidey and Karl Ward were elected Vice-Captains of the 1st XI and 2nd XI respectively. Later in March, Karl was co-opted onto the Committee. But what of that unexpected void at the head of the table? Stuart Smith stepped-up and has calmly filled the role of Club Chairman admirably. Attendance at Committee Meetings has been better than in 2016, 70% at General Committee Meetings and 86% at Executive ones. Well done everyone and thank you.

In the Captains’ Reports you will read about the players in the senior teams being unavailable for a variety of reasons, but it was true also for the Colts. Long held to be the life-blood of the Club, when the better teenagers begin to play weekend matches once they reach Under 15 level, the lack of numbers of that age meant that the difficult decision was taken to not run an U15 Team in either the Herts or Cambs Youth Leagues. As it was, Reed entered an Under 11 side, made up of youngsters under 10, in the Cambs League and an U13 team with players aged 12 and below in the Herts Junior League. The Under 13s were runners-up in their Group and progressed to the County Quarter-Final stage where they lost to Tring Park. Well done to the U13s for getting so far. But it will be a year-or-two before those players reach the Under 15 age and unless more Colts of that age are recruited, Reed will probably not be entering the U15s Competitions. The knock-on effect will be that fewer teenagers will be progressing to Open-Age Cricket matches with the adults. The message remains that if you have any family or friends, boys or girls, of any age, who might be interested, encourage them to join to find-out what the joys (and pains) of cricket are for themselves. Indoor Winter nets for Colts at Freman College were once more organised and run by Richard Barlow who continued to supervise the Sunday morning sessions during the playing season. Neil Gardner managed the Teams with Ian Osborne’s assistance and I know several parents happily volunteered with the necessities of umpiring, scoring, making refreshments and transporting players. We need that help and I thank you all for your time.

A year or more ago, former Club Captain, James Heslam, had mooted the idea of having practice sessions for 5- to 8-year-olds and was regularly seen with a gaggle of small children batting and bowling on the outfield. The ECB now lead with a similar initiative and it is known officially as “All-Stars” Cricket. Reed signed-up to the scheme and James, along with parent helpers, has seen his small group augment to 30 keen and energetic “mini colts” getting to grips with cricket as an enjoyable sport and trying to imitate their cricketing heroes. Some are even third generation Reed players. We do hope they continue into the older age groups and from there, into the senior structure. And of course, we look forward to even more of these future “All-Stars” joining us next year. Spread the word.

Cosmetically, the Clubhouse exterior was given a smarten-up by Tom “The Painter” Greaves with sidekick, Sean Tidey, and new windows were installed in the kitchen and the side of the lounge bar. The “Chain-saw gang” of Bethan & Graham Smith, Roger Bowcock and Peter Baker spruced-up the overhanging trees around the edge of the car park to give a little more light and space. Finally the old, cracked path from the home changing-room was widened and re-concreted whilst on the other side of the building, steps up to the fire escape door were replaced to provide a new sloping access for wheelchairs (and beer barrels)! Part-funding for the new path and ramp was primarily from the ECB Small Grants scheme that James Heslam applied and secured for us whilst the rest was match-funded by the Club.

The bowlers’ run-ups of our artificial nets were re-laid professionally before the season commenced thus giving bowlers a better surface to grip and to cushion the wear and tear suffered on leg and ankle joints. Despite this, the Club continues to seek ways to fund a complete enclosed net area, possibly in a different position, but with costs likely to be more than £30K, that is a beyond our means at the moment. A larger rolling net was acquired courtesy of the Wharton family in June. So too was a pair of mini goal posts that appear to be more popular with budding footballers (adults and children) alike!!

You will know that in the Herts League different Formats have been introduced in recent years. Matches in the first 5 and last 4 weeks of each season are limited overs (50/50) and the middle 9 games are “timed” matches that can end in a draw. In 2017 we have also seen traditional white clothing and red-ball cricket replaced in the First XI 50/50 matches by coloured kit and pink balls. Reed wears their distinctive club colours of Royal Blue trimmed with Yellow. As in the fundraising activities mentioned above, several local companies and organisations have been approached to be our “Shirt Sponsor” but to no avail as yet.

Every Herts League match requires a Facilities Report submitted on the quality of pitches, outfields, changing-rooms, scoreboxes, boundaries and clubhouse facilities. In 1st XI matches, the neutral umpires do this; in other fixtures, the visiting captain is responsible. Both of Reed’s grounds are consistently marked in the upper bracket of each Division our teams play in. It is easy to forget that the people who do ALL the groundwork are well past 60 years of age. Clive Collins is in his mid-seventies and Peter Wholley and Richard Robertson are both about 10 years younger. Peter had major surgery within the last 2 years and Robbo had an operation just a few months ago. Without them this Club would be put into peril by either all the rest of us having to prepare (inferior) pitches, or by us paying thousands of pounds to contractors who would not necessarily display the “personal touch”. Please bear in mind what that might mean to the Club as we continue to enjoy their labours of love. Continued thanks to Richard, Peter and Clive.

We know the ground has earned a good reputation so it was with pleasure when the organiser of Hertfordshire County Over 60s Team approached us and asked to stage two fixtures that we were happy to oblige. The matches against Bedfordshire and then against Norfolk were much appreciated by all the players involved and with Cilla Robertson providing refreshments these were enjoyable days, and earned the Club some useful income. Indeed, after the Herts versus Norfolk match and before the players had departed, jubilant Reed villagers who formed the “Save the Cabinet” campaign suddenly descended en masse having just won a decision made by the NHDC against the planning application at the Cabinet. Our Bar got very busy and Peter McMeekin reported takings of over £550 that evening.

On the subject of the Bar, a major change was the installation of a Credit Card terminal. Having been batted round for a few years, we finally agreed to the idea of having a card facility so that those who carry less cash in their pockets can make purchases at the bar. Apart from problems when the broadband decided to disconnect, this has been a successful enterprise managed extremely well by Peter McMeekin. Thanks to the successful run in the National Village Cup and other Social events, Peter was also able to report record takings for the bar. Already £3475 up on last year by August, a home semi-final in the NVC brought in an additional (and very welcome) £2975 boosting takings to £6450 for the financial year. Well done Peter and the Bar Committee who concentrated their effort on stocking products that were attractive to the customer, an example being San Miguel on pump replacing Carlsberg. There were some doubts, but it has sold better than expected. I record special thanks to Peter who conscientiously spends untold hours working for this Club with little recognition.

“Baz” Curtis maintains the 100 Club that continues to make a profit of £1320 each year with its current membership. 25 different people won prize money but it needs more members; only 48 numbers are in the draw each month. Of those, just 12 belong to players. Could you afford to join at £5 a month? Contact me if you want to join, please.

Despite the position of Social Secretary remaining vacant since the AGM, various people have taken responsibility for running events that generally have been well-attended and importantly, have been enjoyable. These included the 2016 Dinner & Awards Presentation; the Bonfire & Fireworks organised by the Village Hall Committee but which makes a good profit for our Club bar; Father Christmas’s arrival in December; Darts & Pool Competitions in April; a Marion & Paul Watts-style Curry in June; a Musical Evening in July; and 55 entrants in the Quiz saw a much better participation. Also in July, Stuart Smith gathered a team to play against Peter Tidey’s XI in his inaugural Chairman’s match. Then Andrew Emms hosted a charity lunch during President’s Day in August. Whilst the cricket match was won by a team led by Toby Fynn, the sum of £1000 was raised for Parkinson’s UK. Well done Andrew and thanks to you and Carol.

The year was not without its problems on the field. The Captains’ Reports may be read elsewhere and I don’t mean to repeat their comments here. Unfortunately, a Reed player was reported for Dissent by the umpires in a First XI match and was punished with a two-match ban. For a variety of other reasons, the impact of the lack of available players subsequently resulted in the eventual demise of the Fourth Team. Lloyd Bowman was in the unenviable position every week of having to ask almost every acquaintance he knows in efforts to put teams onto the field. Only five 4th Team matches were completed and teams comprising 8 (twice) and 9 (once) were bashed from pillar to post. After 5 concessions, the Fourths were invited to withdraw from the League. We can only hope that we manage to attract sufficient numbers to be able to provide a suitable standard of cricket for our members in 2018 and run the Fourth XI on a non-league basis. Thank you Lloyd for your time and commitment, (not to mention the hundreds of miles round-trips you notched-up), during these past three seasons.

As far as the Herts League is concerned, the 1st XI skippered by Tom Greaves won 11 matches in the Championship Division and ended in 4th position. Also in 4th place but in Division 4B were the Seconds in Phil Frenay’s first season of captaincy. They won 7 of their matches but weren’t helped by having 4 rain-affected “no results” restricting them to only the maximum 10 points in those games when possibly they may have picked-up many more. As mentioned by Phil in his Report, veteran bowler Peter Tidey has decided to “retire” from League cricket. He will be hard to replace having wholeheartedly bowled thousands of deliveries “up the hill” and bagged hundreds of wickets in a playing career for the First and Second Teams spanning 5 decades! Well done and thanks Peter. The Third XI came 7th in Division 9A with MJE Baker at the helm; they also won 7 matches with a couple of others only a few runs away from victory which could have made a lot of difference in the final placings. Reed 1st XI’s run in the Village Cup meant that there was some good cricket to watch throughout the season on Sundays, but it did affect the “Friendly” Sunday Team’s fixture list. Some fixtures were cancelled to accommodate the Firsts playing at home and some because club players wanted to watch the Firsts rather than play themselves. But in the total of 9 cancelled matches, some were because there simply were not enough available players. Much like the 4th XI’s problems, players were unable to turnout for one reason or another. MJEB’s side did complete 10 fixtures so it wasn’t all negative, but it will mean a major re-think about the fixture list in 2018. We need to avoid putting Fixture Secretary, Peter Wholley, in the embarrassing position of having to contact opposition clubs at the last moment to inform them that we have cried-off. Reed did not defend their title of Keatley Cup Champions because the Finals day clashed with our Village Cup Quarter-Final.

Now onto the Village Cup. Reed’s achievement of winning the competition for a second time sits alongside the historic first victory in 2012. An easy win at home in Round 1 followed by concessions in Rounds 2 and 3 took Reed in to the Herts & Beds Regional Final which was also at home against Preston. The visitors made only 149 for 8 which was comfortably overhauled with 7 wickets intact. The wheels could easily have come-off in the away fixture against Foxton in the 5th Round when five 1st team regulars were unavailable because of a wedding. As it was, Foxton’s final total was 188 for 9 after 40 overs proved insufficient as Reed replied with 189 for 5. Back on the Green, Mayfield from Sussex were restricted to 166 for 8 but Reed were seen home by the lower order after losing a scary 8 wickets. In the Quarter-Final at Bledlow Village the innings gained impetus when James Heslam (55) and Sean Tidey (75) counter-punched 105 for the 4th wicket. 227 for 9 proved far too many for the hosts who succumbed for 85 with the devastating Jack Tidey taking a magnificent 5 for 21. The Semi-Final was at home against Aston Rowant in front of up to 500 supporters from both sides; arguably the largest crowd ever seen on the Green. Reed batted first and ended on 179 for 9 then restricted Aston Rowant by denying them boundaries and taking crucial wickets to leave them floundering at 105 all-out. Reed also had its own sports correspondent on hand, as Toby Emes was on work experience with The Cricketer and had his match report published in that month’s edition of the magazine, along with several other articles he had written.

Lord’s, Sunday 17th September. Sessay had not only won the National Village Cup twice before, they were four-times finalists and defending Champions. They had also won promotion from the Premier Division of the York & District Senior League to the ECB Premier League North this season and comprised a strong and experienced group of campaigners. It is needless for me to state here that Sessay’s 164 for 9 was never going to be enough. When Captain, Tom Greaves, swatted that ball over the boundary for a six and the winning runs, the 400-strong Reed supporters erupted into cheers and applause, as did many listening on radio commentary and social media around the world! James Heslam had notched another composed fifty just before the end, but Richard Wharton was undefeated on a masterful 86. That innings plus 2 earlier leg-side stumpings earned Richard the Performance of the Match Award. Sean had won the accolade for the Quarter-Final Round as did Tom in the Semi-Final Round. Well done; they all receive lots of goodies from Gunn & Moore plus a trip round their factory.

In the 2012 NVC Final, 10 of the XI had come through Reed’s successful Colt’s structure, (11 if you count the 12th Man). This year’s team contained 9 “home grown” ex-Colts with 3 more in the reserve / support group. Eight players are “double winners”. We are very proud of you all. Reed remains the only Club from Hertfordshire to have won this prestigious competition.

We formed a small Sub-Committee to make the arrangements for the Semi-Final match then subsequently had to prepare for the appearance at Lord’s for the Final. Many people were involved in both these latter stages but my thanks go in particular to Cilla Robertson, Bethan Smith, Tom Greaves and Stuart Smith who joined me on the Sub-Committee; Peter McMeekin and Andrew Emms at Reed; then Paul & Ann Garrott at Lord’s for their hundreds of photographs (plus “Baz” Curtis for later creating the Photo Galleries on the Club’s website). Everyone did a grand job.

A most pleasant act by the attendees at the 2016 AGM was conferring the honour of Life Membership on Roger Bowcock. This was to acknowledge Roger’s 43-year association with RCC in which he has worked tirelessly and mostly unnoticed on a variety of projects. He is the first to volunteer and carry-out many of the manual labouring jobs that need doing too. Roger is a great supporter on match days and a most generous and popular drinking partner post-match. And despite Roger’s modesty, I can tell Roger that this is a well-deserved honour.

Latterly, we have received news in October of the sad death of Peter Wilson, one of the Club’s Vice-Presidents, who became involved with the Colts when his three sons, Graham, Robert and James, joined the Club in the mid-1990s. We extend condolences to Moira Wilson, her sons and their families.

I hope to have thanked individuals either by name or generally throughout this report so I apologise if I have failed to acknowledge you personally. However, I wish to add one final tribute. As mentioned above, John Heslam sent me a letter stating that he would be stepping down from the Committee at the 2016 AGM. I could not even try to repeat his achievements that really are too numerous to list in what was an extraordinary tenure spread over more than 35 years in many different roles. However, those of us at the Club who have known him the longest do appreciate all the work John has carried-out and the improvements he has instigated. Andrew Emms proposed a heart-felt Vote of Thanks to John at the subsequent AGM that was unanimously endorsed by all Club Members present. I take this opportunity to add my personal thanks too.

You will have seen that my Report is somewhat longer than last year’s and I hope you appreciate why. The loss of Howard, whilst not unexpected, should inform those of us who were not there, and prompt recollections to others who were, what a major contribution he made to our Club. Then, of course, a victory in the National Village Cup isn’t an every year occurrence either, so that deserved a bit of a mention!

Peter G. Baker,
Honorary Secretary, Reed Cricket Club.
October 2017.