Annual Report

26/03/2013 13:09

Below is the text of the chairman's and secretary's annual report delivered at the AGM on March 18th 2013

Copies of the financial report were distributed at the meeting


It is pleasing this evening to be able to report a year of notable achievement and progress both on and off the pitch.

For some, 2012, our 125th anniversary, will forever be remembered as the year of the great deluge as a flood of truly biblical proportions afflicted the country in general and the Willows in particular.

Noah’s animals might have been able to enter the ark two by two, but our opening pairs were less fortunate in being able to seek sanctuary at the crease.  Occasionally, a small boat manned by a crew of intrepid volunteers, would reach the square only for the skipper to plumb the depths and announce mournfully, “Too deep for cricket today”.  Grace’s name was mentioned several times, but it turned out to be Darling, not WG.

Despite the appalling conditions, the fact that so many games were played is a tribute to the hard work of groundsmen David Woodburn and John Hodson, and that of the many players who spent countless hours mopping up.  On numerous Saturdays time spent with sheets, towels and the Bow-dry machine exceeded that spent with bat and ball.  These efforts brought their due reward.

The First XI, captained by Mick Haynes, achieved their aim of re-gaining their DCCL Division 1 status at the first time of asking by winning the Division 2 championship, finishing three points ahead of Ambergate despite what seems to have become an annual August “wobble”

This was an excellent team effort with many outstanding individual performances. 

Paul Allen, who celebrated his unbroken 25 years service in the First XI with a charity match at the end of the season, and Michael James both scored crucial centuries, whilst Tom Yates scored his first 50s in the firsts.  Gareth Marshall was his usual calm, reliable self, and Tom Rutter also made several valuable contributions.

The most successful bowlers were the “spin twins” of Luke Nelson and Australian Scott Baker, for whom the soft wet pitches were a culture shock after the hard bouncy tracks of his native Perth, but who was still able to bamboozle over forty batsmen with his repertoire of leg-breaks, googlies and top-spinners.   They were well supported by the captain, who took 31 wickets.

The team also did well in cup competitions, reaching the semi-final of the Marston’s Smooth, and in a welcome innovation from the captain, entering the National Village Competition and reaching the regional final, where defeat to Bretforton by the narrowest of margins cruelly extinguished hopes of a trip to Lord’s.

In the twenty-over format, the club reached the final of the Rotary Trophy, but the match was not played owing to the weather.  Ilkeston were beaten by a second XI in the League 20-20 competition, but Lullington defeated us in the Dunstall Trophy.

The weather and progress in the various competitions inevitably led to fixture congestion with at one stage three 1st XI matches due to be played on the same day.

This led to conceding the Breweries Cup semi-final, this after our first-round opponents had conceded because of a fixture clash.  Requests to the organisers to re-consider both the format and timing of matches in future have unfortunately fallen on deaf ears, putting the fate of this once-prestigious competition in doubt.

The Second XI, skippered again by Anton Williams, finished in sixth place in Division 5 South after suffering six cancellations owing to the weather.  Nevertheless, victory over eventual champions Melbourne clearly showed the team’s potential.

Nick Goode was the leading run-scorer, whilst John Thomson again showed the value of the old-fashioned virtues of line and length to take most wickets.

As in the First XI, the season was notable for the progress of younger players who will all have benefitted from a regular taste of senior cricket.

The Third XI, led by Ady Statham, enjoyed their best-ever season and are to be congratulated on their promotion to Division 6 South for the first time after a nail-biting end to the season.   Promotion appeared to have slipped from their grasp before Quarndon failed to pick up sufficient points to overhaul us on the last day of the season when we had no match.  Quarndon and Rolleston finished on equal points but the team was promoted by virtue of winning more games.

Steve Dolby and Louis Burrows were the heaviest and impressively fast run-scorers.  Louis also showed his all-round skills by taking most wickets with the rest of the bowlers all chipping in in what was another excellent team effort.

The Fourth XI, under the astute captaincy of Mick Acton, once again proved to be a valuable learning ground for our developing young players.  Not only that, the team finished in third place in Division 10 South, their highest-ever placing, an excellent achievement for a team which over the course of the season included fifteen juniors, of whom nine were aged 14 or under.  The more experienced players made crucial contributions not only in terms of performances but also of guidance.

Duncan Boddy was the highest run-scorer, but mention should be made of fourteen-year old David Powell-Jones, who scored 200 runs.

With the ball, the skipper again showed that an old head can compensate for old legs by taking most wickets at a remarkable average of 5.3.

Shane Powell-Jones took over the fourth team secretary’s duties from Alan Featherstone this year and we thank him for this hard work in ensuring that the team always had a full complement of players, even in the most trying of circumstances.

The Sunday XI’s programme was severely restricted this year owing to the weather, but Alex Brown’s team was still able to offer opportunities to play friendly cricket.  Thanks go to fixture secretary Mick Clay for still being able to arrange such games in what is becoming an increasingly crowded league and cup season.

The biennial match versus the MCC , kindly sponsored by Alan Partington and Keith Philips, amazingly escaped the ravages of the weather for the first time in six years and an enjoyable day was had by all.

Sincere and grateful thanks are due to all our captains who worked so hard and energetically to make the season so successful in such adverse conditions. 

It was also good to see retired and more mature players making themselves available to ensure that we always had eleven players in the teams – no mean achievement at times when fixture congestion, holidays and injuries coincided.

Finally, on the playing side, this report would not be complete without thanking new coach Clive Jacobs for his contribution to the season’s success.  Practices were well-attended, well organized and clearly motivated players to work to improve their game.  He was the well-deserved recipient of the clubman of the year award at the anniversary dinner.

All our scorers as well deserve a special mention for their commitment.  They are essential members of our team: it is surprising how many clubs fail to provide competent scorers especially in the lower divisions.  It is a charge that could never be leveled at Rolleston, who are fortunate indeed to be able to call upon the services of Shane, John Hodson, Paul Smith and Barry Wynne.  The latter again delighted his readers with the elegant prose of his on-line match reports.  This year these included well-researched information on our travels to destinations away from home which put his many followers in mind of Bill Bryson as well as John Arlott.

For every eleven players who take the field, there are at least the same number who make it possible, and in this respect again we need to emphasize the immense contribution of our ladies in providing what are by common consent the best teas on the DCCL circuit.

This year their activities have expanded into the formation of the “Willow Wags” They have proved to be much more valuable (and better-looking) then the likes of Mrs Beckham and Cole and we look forward to their future events which are designed to provide both social opportunities and funds to enhance the décor of the pavilion.

The junior section continues to thrive under junior co-ordinator Matt Parker and his team of managers and coaches.  They will be joined next year by Jon Prescott and John France.  We hope that they enjoy their role, and as ever are grateful to all parents of the boys and girls for their support.

The Under17s were most unfortunate not to win their division of the Burton and District Youth League, after points were awarded to Lichfield following a cancellation of one of their games in controversial circumstances, but the Under 13s continued their fine run with another league and cup double.  The other age-groups performed well and all benefitted from the structured coaching, which unfortunately was not as often as had been planned owing to the dreadful weather

Several boys and girls achieved district or county representation.

To Matthew, Clive, Tom Rutter, Scott Baker, Anton Williams, Mick Haynes, Nick Cheatle, Paul Allen, Tom and Steve Yates and Louis Burrows, we offer our thanks. 

Tom Rutter was also recognized by the Staffordshire Cricket Board, winning their Young Coach of the Year award.

The club also provided coaching and facilities for the young people at Fountains Special School, a link which we hope to develop further as we fulfill our aim of being an integral part of the wider local community.

Reference was made earlier to the importance of having dedicated members off the pitch.  These are the unsung heroes of the recreational game whose efforts often go unrecognized.  It was especially gratifying therefore to receive news in the summer that our president, Alan Partington, had been awarded an OSCA, not by the Hollywood Academy for his acting ability but by the Staffordshire Cricket Board for his Outstanding Services to Cricket.  He received his award at a Staffordshire Minor Counties game before being entertained to lunch at Lord’s later in the year.

At the beginning of 2013, Alan was also presented with a long service award – the Cyril Mullinger Award - by the Derbyshire County Cricket League.  We congratulate Alan and look forward to many more years of his expertise and wise counsel.

He has also just finished a history of the club which will be published shortly and I hope all members will purchase a copy of what is a fascinating and excellently researched book. Profits will go to club funds.

He has been heavily involved in the planning of our proposed new facilities, as has our secretary Steve Cooper, who took over from Trevor Foster twelve months ago and has been extremely busy.  If he thought he was in for a quiet life after his previous secretaryship at Craythorne Golf Club, he will have been sorely disappointed.

Apart from the normal duties of the secretary, Steve has also busied himself with a great deal of work on the ground since taking over temporarily from Ian Wakefield as ground committee chairman.  Ian did sterling work during his four years of office, organizing working parties and doing a huge amount of ground-work himself.  We need a volunteer to take on this role to spread the huge amount of work which will have to go on over the next two years.

John Hodson continued to keep our machinery in excellent condition.  There is scarcely a day when he is not to be seen in the garage, and we would be poorer indeed (in every sense of the word) without his expertise.

More generally on ground matters, the practice nets were renovated with the help of a grant towards the cost from the Lords Taverners, and it is pleasing to note that the quality of our ground has been recognized by a request to host a Derbyshire CCC Academy game against Warwickshire Academy in July and by the request from Staffordshire CCC to play an Under 22 game here in 2014.

The club was successful in achieving re-accrediation for Clubmark, the quality mark of the England and Wales Cricket Board, which validates the quality of our management and cricket programme with a particular emphasis on the safe and effective organization of our junior section.  Clubmark is now obligatory for Premier League clubs and will shortly be so for those in Division One.

With regard to the management of the club, it has become clear that the constitution, which has been built up and added to over a long period of time as new imperatives have appeared and been addressed, needs to be carefully appraised to make sure that it is clear, consistent and fit for purpose.  A working party will therefore be set up to consider the issue and report back to the Executive Committee.  Any proposed changes will then be presented to members for their approval.

As your treasurer will report later, the financial year will be changed to bring it into line with cricket year so that the AGM can revert to the autumn.  Members will recall that the AGM was moved to March in order for members to be given up-to-date financial information, not accounts which were nearly 12 months out of date.

Off the pitch also, there has been a full programme of social events organized by Anton Williams.  These have included musical events, bingo, quizzes, games evenings and the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in conjunction with the Rolleston on Dove Special Events Committee (RODSEC), when the patriotic strains of Sir Edward Elgar contrasted with the previous melodies (or cacophony) of the Silicone Taxis, proving once again that the club is totally inclusive and catholic in its tastes.

At all events as ever, and throughout the year indeed, the bar continued to provide liquid refreshment of the highest quality and much-needed income thanks to the hard work of Mick Acton and his helpers.  We cannot thank Mick enough.

Anton has regrettably decided to relinquish his post.   He certainly left on a high note with the 125th anniversary dinner, which was a great success.  We thank him for his tremendous efforts.  He will be a hard act to follow.

This brings us to reflections on 125 years of cricket at Rolleston. 

The club has come a long way since 1887 by embracing and managing change: constantly renewing itself and looking forward whilst at the same time cherishing our traditional values.

If we continue to do that, the club will continue to flourish and go forward to meet the challenges ahead, of which there will be many. 

We now have the opportunity and the immense challenge, as will be outlined later, to develop even further by expanding our facilities here at the Willows.  The acquisition of the land for our use is not the end of this work, but the end of the beginning.

Like the challenges of the past, this project will be exciting but require a great deal of time and effort.  We must display the same energy, dedication and vision of those in the past who have brought us from a waterlogged meadow to a club which is already the envy of so many.

May I therefore repeat our president’s appeal for all to involve themselves in this undertaking for the benefit not only of the present generation of cricketers, but of those to come and for the community as a whole.

Solid foundations are needed both to expand our provision and to preserve our values and strength.  Those foundations are committed members working towards a simple goal: to be the best we can be.  Let us be simply the best.

Steve Cooper, Hon Sec.

Bob James, Chairman.