A few years ago Ian Western took on the mammoth task of volunteer groundsman when the Council pulled out and of course we all know the hours he devoted and what a great job he made of that. To compensate for playing I have enjoyed helping Ian out around the ground and there is something quite therapeutic about sitting on the gang mower to give the outfield a nice stripe. Maybe I am a little old fashioned but I have always thought it important to give back something you have taken so much pleasure from. I enjoyed playing for over 30 years and was happy to slot in as Treasurer for 7 years and it was the greatest honour to be asked to be Club President which I undertook from 2006 to 2014. A personal “High.”
In the Noughties and 2010’s there were many challenges, not least a crisis with a player exodus. I well remember our previous Chairman, Steve Craig, besides himself at the start of a committee meeting saying we may have to pull the second team due to lack of players. In the event every cloud has a silver lining - the league allowed us to drop the second team down a few divisions and as luck would have it there were several very good junior players who suddenly matured into good senior cricketers and the Justin Yau era had begun. A decent overseas pro, Usman Malvi, helped the inexperienced team to stabilise. Then in a short time this team had not only been promoted from the A Division in 2011 with record points but also become Devon League Champions due to some shrewd signings in 2015. A strange time which originally started as a definite “Low” but ended as a “High!”
I looked at an old third team photo from the 1970’s the other day and it was quite sobering to realise how many of my old team mates have passed on, some well before their time. In more recent times we have lost many club stalwarts not least the “Three Amigos” – Terry Stephens, John Pelosi and Ray Batten. Absent friends there will always be, regrettably.
Just a couple of funnies around the pavilion which stick in my mind. Firstly, we had a real character in Ken Creber as a member. He could be quite rude on occasions but also incredibly funny. One night in the bar he produced a length of hose with a funnel attached to the end of it and swinging it around his head he started to play a trumpet voluntary. I have never seen so many people crying with laughter as it was both incredible and hilarious.
The second gem was when Somerset were playing Leicestershire in a Sunday League game. We had a very strict Steward then called Bob Hill who took no nonsense. When the England Player, Jack Birkenshaw, had been given out, as he made his way back to the changing room he tried to go through the bar - “STOP THERE!” shouted Bob – “players have to go round the back and up the stairs and not through my bar” - the exact words from Mr Birkenshaw really can’t be put in print but it was along the lines of “What the hell do you think this place is – Bloody Lords”. Happy days and a “High!”
Some years ago after I packed up work I was invited to join a volunteer group by Neil Stanlake based at Cockington. We moved on to Occombe Farm but they ran out of things to keep us busy and were too keen on “Elf N Safety.” The group was about to disband but I said there would be plenty to do around the cricket pavilion. A couple of the guys liked the look of the challenge! Barry is a retired painter/ decorator and general builder and Pete is an expert carpenter. The rest of us, a hard core of 7 or 8, help out around their expertise. We started a makeover of the pavilion a couple of years ago and thanks to the efforts of your Chairman sourcing materials we are now finishing the cladding of
the outside in very smart UPVC. This volunteer group meets every Wednesday afternoon (temporarily on hold regrettably) and it has been our great fortune they enjoy turning up to what they call their second home! Jackie Baker sustains us with her delicious cakes. A definite “High!”
Looking at the present day – yes, the First team dropped a division last season and we lost some players – but I really do believe we still have a great club with great facilities. We have a real go getter in Ian Baker as our Chairman and a hard working committee. We are also lucky to have such a respected figure in Ken Jeffery as our President.
So looking at the Lows and Highs over the past 50 years – it is a no brainer – from my point of view there have been many more Highs amongst the odd set back. Hope this finds all members and club supporters well and safe and fingers crossed for a speedy return to action.