On the occasion of our annual President's Day I took the opportunity to formally close our 175th Year celebrations.
I referred to the many successful events we staged during this period. I think that some repetition of this would be an appropriate way to commence my report.
If we go back a while we can recall a Sportman's Evening, two highly successful T20 hostings, an Open Day, live music, President's Day, pub knockouts, quizzes, etc., as well as of course the usual three day and other county fixtures we hosted.
These events, often staged with 175 in mind, have been well received and well supported and of course the players have done their bit to mark these celebrations and make what has been a fantastic, record-breaking year for the club - one to cherish and remember.
This success of course does not just happen. It is due to the hard work, enterprise and dedication of those who continue to devote time and effort to run Bridgnorth Cricket Club. They are due a huge vote of thanks for all they have done and continue to do.
Appreciation for their efforts was I believe reflected in the large number of nominations received for Clubman of the Year. Worthy nominations covering the various business and organisation elements, vital yet I regret to say, taken for granted.
As I have mentioned in previous reports I remain concerned that too much is asked, too much expected, with the obvious risk that tasks become too onerous and cease to be enjoyable.
The work of the next committee will, we can be sure, present increased challenges which we must meet to ensure our success is maintained. My point is that the effort and enterprise which will be needed cannot be left to the elected committee alone, but must involve and include the whole membership. We are our only resource and we must be prepared as individuals to do our bit, to support events, etc.
You will I imagine interpret these words in your own way, but I interpret this as a genuine concern, to paraphrase a famous quotation, 'Ask not what your Club can do for you, but what you can do for your Club'.
I am grateful for the hard work and personal support received from the committee. Next year will I'm sure require more input and commitment, so please be prepared and aware.
Put simply, being on committee will require commitment.
There is a view amongst certain members that the committee takes it easy in the closed season. Not so, there is always much to be done, general business has to be conducted, sponsors have to be contacted, preparations for next season, etc.
I mention our sponsors. Our existing sponsors remain loyal, we are grateful, yet we must continue to try and obtain sponsorship and this is something we can all do. Do not leave it to others, if you know someone who may be prepared to sponsor - ask them.
Enough concerns for now. This has after all been a wonderful season for us. I highlight some positives of which there have been many.
It's hard to imagine how playing matters could have been more successful at both senior and junior level.
I congratulate our players and captains who have done so much to put our club on the map and emulate our rugby colleagues. Their achievements should not be underestimated. Their success is a boost for the town and the community, well covered in the local press. This I'm sure will make Bridgnorth Cricket Club an attractive club to join at senior and junior level.
Despite the enhanced player strength this year, the captains and Chairman of Selectors have still been required to make delicate and diplomatic decisions, balancing the needs of the teams and the individual players. They have done this well, and I thank them.
Our juniors have enjoyed their usual success, with many gaining county selections and selections to our own senior teams. I am particularly pleased to note the development of girls cricket at our club. These are notable achievements and on behalf of the membership I offer sincere thanks to Catherine for her inspirational leadership and her team of dedicated managers and coaches who do so much to develop and encourage our juniors, the future of our club.
A concern has been raised about the lack of U15 fixtures with teams regularly dropping out of the league or simply not fulfilling a fixture. Clearly, this concern could lead to junior players not getting enough cricket. Your committee have acted quickly to address this problem, by entering a fourth team to play on Sundays. This action, we believe, will prevent players leaving, encourage players to join, and of course will mean there will be regular Sunday cricket at Cricket Meadow.
I have a further reason to thank Catherine. You will recall that last year there was great concern at the need for a replacement groundsman - then along came Matt Bowler-Jones to the rescue. It cost me no more than a few pleasant pints and a bit of a headache, but Catherine went as far as marriage - the things we do for this Club!
Matt has proved to be a great asset for us, as a player and supporter, as well as of course his groundsman duties. Thank you Matt and your team for coping so well with the huge demands placed on this ground and for producing such excellent results recognised by umpires in achieving a first place rating. If you ever need new germination sheets, just ask!
I have not detailed many of those worthy of special thanks, I trust they will forgive me, but it would be unforgivable were I not to mention in dispatches two of our long serving loyal members.
You will be aware that the electronic age has caught up with our Heather (she is not alone). These technological advancements have sadly lead to Heather standing down as first team scorer after a 'mere' 40 years. Our club, its members and players owe here a huge debt of gratitude. We thank and honour her the best way we can. I am delighted to report, however, that she will continue to help and support us in her many capacities.
Kip has indicated that he proposes to stand down from his coaching duties. This may not be after 40 years, but close enough.
I sincerely hope that we can continue to rely on his advice and experience and give thanks for his years of dedication and for the inspiration he has given to several generations of young cricketers.
I conclude my report as follows:
It is of course right that we should celebrate our success and achievements. There is little point in putting in so much effort if we do not then enjoy the fruits of our labour.
I have sought to balance the good bits with my concerns and to how we move forward to meet the challenges ahead. These are after all only my words, easy to write and say but not so easy to achieve, but surely with the reach of us, the membership of this fine club.
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, that concludes my report. Thank you for your attention.