With yet another football season drawing to a close, this could also be the sad end to Cromer Town Football Club.
There have been some well publicised off the field issues over the past 5+ years and this has impacted on things both on and off the pitch. For many years now the club has run due the hard work of a small number of volunteers, but the ongoing difficulties have proved tiring (to say the least). Due to personal commitments, health issues and the lack of energy to keep fighting, the select few that have kept the clubs administration in order for many years now are no longer able to continue in their roles.
The club is now without a main sponsor and without personnel with the time and energy to go to businesses this is unlikely to change. The clubs other fundraising opportunities are also limited. Sunday night bingo continues to flourish each week but the car boots that usually run from Easter to October are not currently up and running due to not having the people able to run them as in recent years. Also with the surgery development now started at Cabbell Park the practicalities of holding car boots and raising sufficient funds is also very questionable due to access to the pitch for stall holders, and then customer access to the clubhouse for food and drink service the club would normally run. Plus of course there would be a risk/safety factor to consider for any stall holders and customers walking around given the heavy vehicles that will be around for the building works.
On the pitch it is clear to all that this season has not been how anyone had hoped. With one game remaining the mens' team have registered one draw and were relegated several weeks ago. However this has not been without tremendous efforts from manager Lee Hackleton. Lee came into the club at the latter stages of last preseason and took on a job no one else would touch. Lee has worked tirelessly to assemble a squad to take to the field each week. Sadly his effort and commitment has not been shown by enough of the players. There are a small core of players that have been ever presents throughout the season and some of the new additions also proved reliable for Lee. Unfortunately though Lee has been let down by large numbers of players over the course of the season and they have regularly not had a full squad come kick off due to late call offs and no shows. This resulted in this Wednesday night's game at Caister being played by just 9 Cromer players and following this game Lee has advised the club that he will be standing down following the final fixture. Lee deserves tremendous credit for sticking it out this long when many others wouldn't and inherited a horrendous mess in the Summer and to get a squad together at all was an achievement. The core of players that have also been ever present also deserve praise as they too could have easily looked to move on. Despite how the season is going to end Lee and a selection of his players can hold their heads high.
We also have a ladies team and their manager Jenna Bedwell deserves similar praise to that of Lee, and she too has fallen foul to a lack of commitment from players with several games having to be called off due to being unable to raise a side.
Over the past months myself, Paul Jarvis (Chairman) and Les Frary (General Manager) have been involved in discussions with Cromer Youth Football Club (CYFC) and NNDC about how the two clubs can work together and how to ensure football continues to be played on Cabbell Park. The clubhouse facility has been offered to CYFC for them to use for meetings and functions, and just a general base for the club. It has been hoped that the clubs can work together to create a pathway for youngsters through to adult football, however it is difficult to see how the current adult club will be able to continue running.
Previous pleas for help and support have been made by the club but unfortunately there has been no meaningful response and the club remains in a dire position, identical to that presented in the public meeting last summer. The only difference now is the current committee cannot carry on. The current officers have always been prepared to support any new faces wanting to come on board, and this offer still remains. However there is now very little time for this offer to be taken.
No one wants to see a club with a fantastic history disappear, but there seems no other likely outcome at this stage. If anyone is willing and able to carry on the fight and fill one of the multiple positions that will be void please contact the club ASAP. Unless a sufficient number of people come forward by the middle of May the existing committee will be calling an EGM with a resolution for the club to fold.
Updated 20:54 - 27 Apr 2017 by Richard Cox
Cromer Town Football Secretary