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Chairman's Report 2021

2021 was a successful season both on and off the field, as the Club bounced back from the COVID19 restrictions in spectacular fashion.

The 1st XI made it to the top half of the table for the first time in 10 season finishing 6th out of 12. Decent cricket in early games was not rewarded with the wins we perhaps merited. However, perseverance paid off and 7 wins in 8 games saw us climb the table. A drop off in form from our Professional, Sachithra Serasinghe, meant late season form dipped but a win on the last day of the season secured 6th place. Simon Newbitt led the way with the bat scoring 543 runs at an average of 40, with Matt Collinge making 302 runs despite missing a few games with injury. The ever-reliable Ben Lord took 32 wickets after a slow start and young Finlay Testa was impressive in his first full Lancashire League season picking up 27 wickets. It was a difficult season for our Professional, Sachithra, who had to isolate on arrival and again later when he caught Covid. He still scored 563 runs at 40.21 and took 42 wickets at 13.97. His mid-season form prompted the Committee to re-sign him for 2022.

The 2nd XI of course, had an excellent season finishing as Champions of Division 2. This was the first winners trophy for the seconds since 1990 – a gap of 31 years. Congratulations to all concerned and particularly to Luke Bradford who in his first season as Skipper, showed the way with a passion and determination to succeed. It could have been a very convincing Championship win, but injuries made for a difficult run in and it took a last match victory at East Lancs to claim both promotion and the Championship. Mark Goddard led the way with the batting scoring 419 runs at 59.85 before promotion to the first team. 2nd XI Player of Year, Luke Donovan weighed in with 337 with Skipper, Luke Bradford scoring 266. On the bowling front, Sam Lord led the way with 37 wickets with Mark Goddard taking 22.

The 3rd XI also had a good season finishing third in their group and 9th out of 24 teams after the play off matches. Michael Rabbett led the team well whilst embracing the necessity to include older players when required. George Sumner’s dedication to the cause gained him the 3rd XI Player of the Year and along with Finlay Testa, Charlie Gansler and Dominic Boardman this provided the backbone for the team. Particularly pleasing was the emergence of the younger players such as Kyan Van der Merwe, Theo Goddard, Bailey Marshall, Rhys Lloyd, Kyle Halstead, Ibrahim Baig and Patrick Boardman, who all showed their ability and readiness to step up to Senior Cricket.

As already stated, Sachithra was signed up for 2022. However, unfortunately, owing to potential Visa problems caused by his wish to stay in the country and bring his family over from Sri Lanka, it was agreed to cancel his contract with his agent to avoid complications down the line. After a little searching the Club are delighted to have signed Pakistani all-rounder Khalid Usman. A quality left arm spinner and batsman with an excellent first-class record. He comes highly recommended after a couple of very successful years playing in the Bradford League. We are currently encountering problems in getting his Visa from the Border Agency owing to an expired Health & Safety Course Certificate but we are still hopeful we can get it over the line.

The Junior Section also enjoyed a good season with a very large percentage of games being completed. Numbers are quite high in the lower age groups but we could do with an injection of players in the older groups. Our thanks go to Lee Goddard, Peter Ackerley, Ben Lord and our Junior Coordinator - Terry Lord for their fantastic work. We are pleased to welcome Matthew Hayhurst to the Coaching Team for the coming season who I am sure will prove to be an asset.

Meanwhile, Andrew Knights has been an excellent addition to the Coaching Team. Experienced and committed ex-players putting something back into the Club is exactly what we need. Knightsy is very involved in the All-Stars Cricket and the youngest age groups on Junior Practice night and has been invaluable with his help this season alongside Terry in the 2nd XI’s success. Furthermore, he is at the forefront of Ladies and Girls Cricket as we seek to improve its profile and push it forwards. For the first time this year, there will be a Ladies Playing Membership. We look forward to seeing the Ladies in action and becoming a substantial part of the club.

2021 has seen the departure of our Head Coach, John Brierley. He has been a very popular man around the Club and we thank him for his sterling service over the last few years. He has been instrumental in the development of many of our younger cricketers. I would like to place on record, our gratitude for his excellent work. Although a Todmorden man, his devotion to our Club has been immense. A new Coach is currently being sought to lead our excellent Coaching Team.

Grant funding continues to be an excellent source of income for the Club. In the last few years, nets, ground machinery, drainage and levelling of the square, perimeter fencing and the beer garden have all been as a result of successful grant applications. This year a new cellar has been built. The new position of the cellar right behind the bar means that the journey between cellar and pump is considerably shorter, and as such the wastage is minimal, saving us thousands of pounds on line cleaning every year. It is also more convenient for the staff to change barrels and for storage. A few weeks ago, we were highly delighted to receive the news that we have once more been successful in grant application and this time for over £40,000. This is to be spent on Club refurbishment with the bulk of the money being spent on new toilets and flooring throughout, as well as new furniture. New lighting and decorating are also being planned. The impressive new sound system for both inside and outside the Club is already a new feature. Even ahead of this work being done, there are exciting future plans in the pipeline for an upgrade and extension of the kitchen and possible plans for a new Ladies pavilion incorporating accommodation for the professional.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the workers at the Club, both paid and voluntary. Firstly, our former Bar Manager, Pauline Clawson, who had to resign this year owing to ill health. She has put in an excellent stint over the last few years, always working with the good of the Club at heart. We thank her for her sterling service and hope she is soon back to full health. We thank our Groundsman, Colin Shaw, for his tireless efforts in ensuring the field is fit and ready for cricket, sometimes 7 days a week and often preparing wickets at the behest of Junior coaches at very short notice. Our thanks go to our resident caterers, L&D Catering, for their excellent service - always having quality food available makes us the envy of the League. All the usual people have been around doing their stuff to make sure the club ticks over. Where would we be without the likes of Joanne Boardman, Jimmy Wilkinson and Ben O’Connor. Eamonn and Michael Rabbett are recent additions to the list. It was fantastic to see Thomas Stratton pick up Volunteer of the Year Award for his contribution over the years. The Champion of voluntary work in the last few years has undoubtedly been Life Member, Bryan Bancroft. As well as helping on several projects around the ground, he has been instrumental in getting people into the club for Bingo and Darts and Dominoes nights. A decision was made by the Committee a few weeks ago, to suspend the Bingo until after the Winter season. Unfortunately, this news was released on Social Media before consulting Bryan. This was unforgivable and we deeply regret the way it happened.

Our sincere thanks go to our outgoing Committee Members, Fiona and Eric Bradford, Matt Thompson and Craig Lucas. Special thanks go to Fiona for her years of dedication as both Club Secretary and Scorer. Her reliability and efficiency as Scorer have been second to none. I am sure we will still see and hear plenty of her. In fact, Fiona is continuing to act as our Play Cricket Administrator. Despite coming off the committee, Matt Thompson will continue to be our lead in Club Mark / Safe Hands accreditation and Craig Lucas will continue to coordinate the Bonfire Night - whilst on the topic of Bonfire Night, although not included in the current accounts, what a success it was in November! Record crowd and record takings in what is the most profitable event of the year by far. Our thanks go to John Wilkinson and Alex Moss for taking charge of the Fireworks display and the large team of bonfire erectors.

And now a welcome to our new Bar Manager, Christine Brighty. Christine is a very experienced Bar Manager of many years in both the pub and club setting. We are extremely delighted that she accepted our offer to come on board. She is already putting her stamp on things and is organising a very busy Club social calendar to sit alongside our healthy number of private functions. With an upgraded, refurbished Clubhouse we except to have a very full diary going forwards.

We also welcome 3 new Committee Members. Helen Goddard has already done great work as Junior Cricket Secretary; she now takes on the role of Club Secretary and her organisational skills are already coming to the fore. First Team Captain, Simon Newbitt, has joined to help maintain the link between Committee & Players. He is already overseeing the refurbishment of the home dressing room and the upcoming Race Night. Our latest addition is Rachel Hannan who will bring a ladies and family perspective to the Club, Rachel has also taken on the important role of Club Welfare Officer.

Money coming in from different angles is a great bonus, and bizarrely, despite or because of COVID19, we have made a record profit. With Coronavirus Business Grants and Business Interruption insurance payments swelling the coffers, as well as good trade over the bar when we could resume business. However, you cannot underestimate the effort of the likes of Ben Lord, Tim Farragher, Colin Shaw and Bryan Bancroft in raising money through different competitions to add to the funds.

Finally, a big thank you goes to Neil Hollingsworth, Terry Lord, Graham Naylor and David Hart who have now been the backbone of the Committee for a good number of years. The number of hours put in by these people, even during the Pandemic, is far more than anyone should expect for volunteers. Their determination to move the club forward is unshakeable. Terry went even further and higher this year when taking on the role of Bar Manager prior to Christine’s appointment.

A very last thank you to our Members for their support and our Social Members who keep the Club going throughout the year. Your custom, as always, is appreciated.

2022 will no doubt bring its challenges, no more so than on the Cricket side, with several players not available for selection this season, but together we are stronger.

Thank you for your support.

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