At the time of drafting this Report, there are still four weeks to go before this year’s AGM and I shall begin by recounting various activities and events that occurred during these past 12 months, but not necessarily in chronological order. Last autumn I reported that only 19 members attended the 2017 AGM. I am pleased to report this year that all of those same 19 members were in attendance again at the 2018 AGM and that they were joined by a further 24 members; 28 of the aggregation had played matches that year, so all the voting criteria was able to be met this time. With regard to changes to the General Committee, Phil Frenay stood down from the Second XI captaincy and was replaced by Ed Garrott. As forewarned, Cilla Robertson gave up two of her three roles and although she remained as Membership Secretary, Hannah Heslam took-on Colts Liaison whilst Chloe Robertson became Welfare Officer. The new role of Saracens Hertfordshire Premier Cricket League Representative was created as a separate position on our General Committee and Michael Robertson was elected as the first post-holder. (Previously Richard Robertson had been the Club’s liaison with the SHPCL but it was not an official “committee position”). Peter Tidey and Karl Ward both did not seek re-election to the General Committee although Karl remained Second XI Vice-Captain until partway through the season. Those vacancies on the Committee allowed Richard Johnson and Matt Giblin opportunities to be elected “Without Portfolio”. All other officials were re-elected in their existing roles. Remarkably, our Committee now contains four married couples on it – this must be a record!

Outside the Committee positions, Jack Tidey did not wish to continue as First XI Vice-Captain and Rob Lankester was elected in his place. Rob remained a member of the General Committee in his role as Sunday XI Captain. The role of Third XI Captain was left vacant as no one was in a position to commit full-time. In the event, Rhodri Hughes skippered the majority of the matches on the field whilst Paul Garrott fulfilled the selectorial duties and yours truly dealt with the post-match administration. I know that circumstances have changed since the end of the season so hopefully there will be one permanent role-holder in 2020.

Jonathan Fynn has carried-out the duties of Auditor for a number of years but John Heslam decided to stand down. Scott Rouse was willing to be elected and became our second Auditor. Scott is a former player and was at one time the Club’s Treasurer so having him involved in Club affairs again was welcome.

Whilst it is well and good to have experienced and wise(!) people in administrative roles, having five newcomers on the General Committee brought a fresh outlook and also indicates a hint of succession planning that should help us face the challenges ahead. Even so, I thank all those past and present who have served.

The General Committee has met 10 times during the year so far with the November meeting still to come. 23 people sit on the Committee and the overall average attendance is 75% with 5 members having a 100% record.

Within a month of that 2018 AGM we were shocked and saddened on hearing the news reports that Jason Pallett had died of injuries in tragic circumstances on the 23rd December, his 30th Birthday. I wrote at the time that Jason was brought up in Reed and was one of our Colts then he became a regular player in the senior teams at weekends in his teen-aged years. He was still a frequent visitor at the Club where he knew so many players and joined-in the social side of things. Jason had a ready smile and a friendly word for everyone. His funeral service was attended by hundreds of friends and family; testament to his popularity. He will be missed by many of us, but none more so than by his mother Anne and his father Kevin. The money raised by the President’s Day raffle was donated to MAGPAS Air Ambulance in Jason’s name. Then, how many of you twigged the tribute the 1st Team Players paid to Jason at Lord’s? On the sleeves of the players’ shirts where normally their own initials are displayed, all had “JP” embroidered to remember our team-mate. I don’t know whose idea it was, but I thought it was pretty good one!

Reed CC started cricket skills training a year before the ECB began backing All-Stars (the initiative aimed at 5- to 8-yeard olds). At the time, James Heslam had a group of keen youngsters beginning their association with cricket. James continued overseeing All-Stars for a couple of years until this season when Graham Aldridge took over. The fruition is that the boys and girls in James’s original group are now playing matches in the Under 9 age group. So much so, that Reed was able to run two Under 9 Teams in 2019 under the guidance of James, Nigel Cook and Simon Jackson, (another former Club Captain and someone else, like Scott Rouse, I am pleased to see renewing his involvement with the Club). James and Nigel managed the youngsters appearing in the Under 11 team several of whom were still Under 9s. Ian Osborne again managed the Under 13s who had a challenging season in the Cambridgeshire Premier Division. Their individual Season Reviews can be read elsewhere, but I thank, Simon, James, Nigel, Ian and Graham for the help and assistance in helping our Colts by giving their time and organisational skills running the teams which involve 50+ Colts and more than 30 All-Stars. I also extend thanks to parents and other family members involved in transportation, making refreshments, scoring, umpiring and basically sharing the burden. The Coaches that Richard Barlow coordinates for Sunday mornings should be recognized too. Many adult players have also become involved in these coaching sessions – Reed seems to be the place to go on Sunday mornings. Thanks guys. But my special thanks goes to Hannah Heslam who stepped-up to fill the enormous gap that Cilla Robertson left when she decided that she would not seek re-election as Colts Liaison Officer. I know that there is an awful (or is that awesome in the modern vernacular?) amount of administrative work that goes on which the casual observer would not be aware of. It is a time-consuming role and requires attention to detail as well as dealing with welfare, child protection and safeguarding issues. Well done Hannah in your first year and I hope that you will be able to continue next season, (which would mean the cycle of arranging fixtures begins again in January). Catch a breath!

The Club moves-on with James Heslam and Rob Lankester becoming ECB-qualified Coaches, the newly-elected Hannah Heslam and Chloe Robertson in their respective roles attending an obligatory “Safe Hands” Course, then ten members renewing their First Aid qualifications in April.

Our internal Monthly lottery, the 100 Club attracted 3 extra participants this year and now totals 51 in the draw. Simple arithmetic means that there are still 49 vacancies! Please ask me for details how to join because it does bring in welcome funding to our Club. 27 different individuals won prize money in the past 12 months with 6 of these lucky people winning more than £100 each. “Baz” Curtis has decided to give up administering the 100 Club that involves checking bank statements and payments etc. Bethan Smith has taken on responsibility as of this month. Thank you “Baz” for all you have done in helping RCC to raise funds in this simple yet effective way. “Baz” continues to mange the Club’s website and his IT skills are second to none. More than £3,700 has been raised in donations to the Club by RCC members using the ‘easyfundraising’ scheme since he introduced it on the website many years ago. As we approach Christmas, remember to click on the ‘easyfundraising’ logo on the Reed CC website and sign-in when shopping on-line.

A new metal container was acquired by our resourceful Club Captain that has increased the capacity to store all the equipment and accompanying paraphernalia to meet the criteria required of Clubs in the top tiers of the Hertfordshire League. For example, the three wheeled covers are visible, but there are yards of extra groundsheets and hosepipes that go with them but are hardly ever deployed, and we should not forget that large spongy roller we bought several years ago. It has rarely been used but is a thousand-pound necessity.

Bill Mansfield has installed waterless cartridges in the urinals that should sort out the problem of the overflowing cistern. And the Glass washer in the bar is finally working properly after concerns about it drinking more detergent than expected! Peter Wholley graveled round the buildings which gives a tidier appearance and Roger Bowcock treated the bar tables to a much needed makeover. We hope to paint the kitchen before next season.

The significant business of the Club this year is the upgrade of the cricket table on The Green. Increasingly concerned at the criticism the panel umpires were voicing during the season at the 1st XI matches at Reed, Richard Robertson consulted the ECB’s Inspector of Pitches who provided evidence that Richard presented in a case to the General Committee seeking agreement for major repair work to be undertaken. In the immediate post-season contractors took the top surfaces off 10 pitches and re-laid them. Costs were approximately £18K and thanks must go to several long-standing non-playing club members who contributed loans to enable this work to be done. I shan’t embarrass them by naming them, but your commitment allows the Club to remain with a reasonably healthy bank balance so that if we have any unforeseen emergencies, we do have some reserves to fall back on. Of course, these loans will be repaid in due course. Thank you. The outcome, i.e., how the pitch surfaces measure-up next season, clearly remains to be seen, but feedback I sought from other clubs who were in similar situations was positive and things are looking good after a month of sun and rain.

We welcomed the likeable Zac McGuigan from New South Wales for the summer, mind you those first few weeks of the season in April and May were the coldest I can remember ever playing cricket in. It must have been a bit of a shock for Zac who might have wondered what he had signed-up for. However, 468 League runs at 26 and 27 wickets at 19 and being part of the successful First Team Squad wasn’t a bad return – and it did get warmer too so he was eventually able to dispense with his woolly hat!

RCC did have another disciplinary issue to deal with and again it involved umpires not getting things right first time and causing confusion and frustration amongst the players. All these incidents generate disciplinary meetings, (electronic) paperwork and they take-up the time of all involved. Let’s face it; we are all volunteers having to give-up our own free time for what is supposed to be a leisure activity. For example, this one incident generated 43 separate emails backwards and forwards!

On the social scene, the winner of the Darts competition was George Garrott who beat Stuart Smith in a tense final, with Stuart missing several darts for the match! In the Pool, Richard Johnson edged past Mike Robertson in the final to take the trophy!

Sam Greaves organised four Quizzes during the year and it appeared that if you were on the same team as Stuart Smith, you had a very good chance of winning! In the first Quiz of the year, Stuart, Jaime Boyd, Richard Johnson, Mitch & Maddie Cooper entering as “Next Year’s Winners” were triumphant. In May, Stu and Jaime were joined by Matt Giblin and Zac McGuigan and inventively christened themselves “Sak McGiboyd” to beat off the opposition. Come July, when there was another good turnout, the winners were “Where’s Jaime?” which were the Garrotts and Stuart Smith (obviously minus Jaime). “Scooby” was on holiday in September so was missing when the team named “Bits and Pieces” made up of Paul and Ed Garrott, Matt and Emma Bowles, James Prime, Chloe Robertson and Sam Greaves won.

The fast-becoming annual fixture against the footballers of Orwell FC fitted into this year’s President’s Day. Unfortunately, President Andrew Emms was hit in the face by a ball being thrown back to the bowler whilst he was umpiring. He has recovered now! The game was played as a two-innings match that ended as a draw when rain intervened.

Peter McMeekin’s comprehensive Bar Report explains where the money has come from this year. One of the comments made about Reed’s appearance at Lord’s for the National Village Cup Final was thank goodness all the matches in the rounds except the Quarter-Final, were at home, meaning that Bar Takings went towards the costs of playing in the Final. Our opponents at Lord’s, Houghton Main from Yorkshire, had been drawn away for many of their matches, most significantly the Semi-Final and therefore did not benefit from takings at their own bar. They had to resort to on-line fundraising to pay for the considerable expenses necessary to appear in the London-based Final, (e.g., transport, hotels, playing kit). Even so, if it wasn’t for a Reed supporter who wishes to remain anonymous, contributing several hundred pounds, the costs to Reed CC would have been greater than they were. Thank you very much. The bottom line is that The NVC competition is lacking major big-name sponsors that contribute towards clubs’ participation. Piper’s gave us some free tubs of crisps; BOLA has offered us a new bowing machine at a reduced price (£1,700); the Cricketer Magazine, who organise the competition, provided the finalists £500 each towards costs. Even in 2017, the then sponsors, Watson’s Dairy Products, gave us a couple of dozen coffee mugs for reaching the semi-final stage! Nothing like that materialized this year.

The Team Captains have written their own reviews on the season and I don’t intend duplicating their reports, but I do pose the question: What made 2019 special? I shan’t answer entirely, but do suggest two things helped. Organizing indoor nets at Burloes this spring made a difference. Some might argue that there is no comparison between indoor hard surfaces and grass pitches, but already some were benefitting from feeling bat on ball. We did not bother with practice nets the previous year, and possibly missed attracting some potential new players. The second thing that occurred was having a pre-season Team Strategy Workshop for players to focus on what they wished to achieve during 2019. By voicing expectations and aspirations followed by a team-building paint-ball session individuals were buying-in to the momentum to win promotion(s) and setting targets. Did that workshop help? Well, the First Team Squad did us proud by attaining the runners-up spot in the Championship, then winning the play-off to be promoted into the Premiership next year then accomplishing the double of landing the National Village Cup Final at Lord’s for the third time. Meanwhile, the Second XI were comfortable champions of Division 4B with 15 victories and losing only once to be 35 points clear at the top. The Thirds had a far more fulfilling season than in the past three or four years. Having been relegated to Division 10A they were able to better meet standards and compete. They began winning and winning-well with 10 victories. It helped too that Richard Johnson and Mike Robertson were regulars in this season’s campaign. As a consequence of achieving promotion to the Premier Division of the SHPCL, Reed’s 1st Team players will be ineligible to take part in the National Village Cup next season. Nevertheless, Reed has entered the competition in 2020 and will select from their Second Team players. I wonder how far Reed can progress?

Andrew Emms was awarded Life Membership of the Club at the AGM in 2018. Andrew has worked on a variety of projects at the Club in his time as it has grown from rural village side to one of the finest clubs in Hertfordshire. He continues to volunteer and carry-out many of the manual labouring jobs that need doing as well as organising annual charity luncheons that have raised money for many worthy causes. In his early days he was particularly involved in setting-up the Colts’ structure from which the Club has benefitted with a constant supply of young players coming through to the senior teams. After many years as Committee member and Club Chairman, Andrew remains the figurehead of the Club as its President since 2012. He is a generous socialiser and a very loyal member of the Club and deserves this recognition.

What with all the other administrative goings-on behind the scenes you will see that running a cricket club depends so much on volunteers having the time and capacity to fulfill the requirements. And even that is ignoring hours and hours preparing pitches, making teas, organising coaching, arranging fixtures for Colts as well as Senior Teams, selection, etc, etc, etc. Our Club cannot function without these volunteers who stand-up to be counted. But although the majority of tasks naturally fall upon Committee members and team captains, many of our extended family, friends and other supporters (who are not necessarily club members) also stepped-up this season. For example, preparing for the Village Cup Semi-Final and subsequent Final involved countless actions that everyone got involved with. Overall, whether it was individuals, or the Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, or the Fireworks Party organisers, Reed CC could not operate without your help working towards mutual benefit. Thanks to you all.

The last paragraph of my Report in 2018 referred to the concerns we had about the Third XI and whether we would have sufficient players for it to continue. I had created a graphic showing how many players had appeared during the previous four seasons and how many matches they had played, highlighting the amount of cricketers playing in 10 or more matches. I don’t intend to reproduce that here in its entirety, although I have updated it to compare 2019 with the 2018 chart. Club Chairman, Stuart Smith in his pre-season message, challenged playing members to try “…. to increase your availability. However many games you played last year please see if you can up it by 2 or 3 games at least ……… I guess only time will tell.” Significantly, 11 players made the effort to appear in 20 or more matches during 2019; there were only 3 in 2018.

Peter G. Baker,
Honorary Secretary, Reed Cricket Club.
October 2019.