MEMBERSHIP 2024

It’s that time of year again – the membership books & our Chair’s, John Fox, annual message (see below) are being delivered. You will find QR codes on the letter to help make paying your subs quick and easy.

We are all looking forward to seeing you at the Club this summer and praying for some better weather. We are very grateful for all the supprt we receive, thank you all.

 

Chair’s Pre-season Message

Because I’m dull, and somewhat unoriginal, I’ve always used the analogy of a shark drowning if it doesn’t move forward in relation to any organisation I’ve been involved with. As I’ve never had any scruples when I need to tread a well-worn path, I’m going to use it with regard to RCC. 

This came to mind when John Abrahams, the former Lancashire Captain, visited the club last year and he told me that he loved coming to Acre Bottom as it is different every time he comes, that it was clear that we are always looking to improve. 

For the Committee, the hard work starts when the season ends and with only a few weeks until the season starts, I’ll let you know about the changes you can look forward to this year.

First off, following Sandra’s retirement after an impressive 12 years, we have new caterers at the ground. Cugini Pizza will be installed from 1 April and as well as providing us with their excellent range of pizzas, they will provide a wider menu on match days – those worrying about the disappearance of bacon butties can stand down. Callum, Conor and Dino are great guys and will add an awful lot to the character of the club – they fully intend to be here for many years and become part of the furniture on the catering and social side. 

You will also notice that where the old tearoom / Roger’s Caravan used to be there are two new buildings. These are the changing rooms for the Academy and Women’s section. This wasn’t just a case of dropping a couple of pre-fabs onto the ground. There was a great deal of preparation involved and thanks, in particular, to Andrew Rothwell and Paul Hinchliffe for their efforts here. The changing rooms have been provided by the sponsor of the Academy, Grace Overseas and I’d like to thank Sarah and Brian Taylor for this generous contribution in addition to their already invaluable support to the Club. 

On the coaching front, we are delighted that Phil Heaton has agreed to coach the senior cricket teams. Despite being a Greenmount man to his bones, Phil has become highly regarded during his time at RCC and his work on the PDP, with the support of Phil Croft, has already borne fruit with 3 graduates moving onto the first team. 

At times it has seemed that the coverage of our women’s team in the media has been second only to Taylor Swift’s takeover of arenas the world over with her concerts and singlehandedly winning the Superbowl for Kansas City. When Wisden come calling then you know that you caught the cricketing world’s attention – Paddy Kinsella has done a great job pushing this with his PR / social media work but it really helps when the team, when interviewed, show how determined and enthused they are for what is a step into the unknown. From an original idea by Andy Dalby, Iain Collier has galvanised his squad for what is going to be a challenging season – we know the club is fully behind them and will come down to support them.

The environmentally conscious amongst you will soon notice that we will have electric car charging points springing up at the ground. Whilst there is an initial expense, it is clear that as well as helping the club’s carbon footprint, that this will be a good source of income for the Club. Rumours that this has been driven by our new Club secretary, Graham Ratcliffe, because he has recently bought an electric vehicle are completely scurrilous.   

We have an exceptional team looking after the pitch. Roger and Phil (and Harry during the season) have a great working relationship and I hope that they get the support that they need from the committee. In addition to the usual graft involved in preparing for the season, we have lumped two hybrid pitches onto their workload as well. These are pitches that have been installed by SIS Pitches who have also provided pitches for this years County Championship. They are 95% grass, but they will allow us to play more games on each wicket and also help when, as you pluviophiles well know, the rain falls from time to time on our fair town. 

We have made some key signings at the club over the years, but Paul Hinchcliffe joining the committee has to be one of the most significant. His commitment to getting the ground in perfect condition is unrelenting and inspiring. Over the winter Paul has been down every week and along with Mick Ireland, Graham Ratcliffe, Phil Croft, Jon Fielding, Alan Pearson, David Martin, the under 13’s team and anyone who can be coaxed, strongarmed or bribed to ensure that anything that can be painted, trimmed or tidied away has a tick in its allocated box. It also brings us to our first injury worry for the year, as Geoff Hinchliffe, an MVP over the last two years has an issue with his knees. I’ve not been this worried about anyone’s knee since Roy Keane did his ACL, but fingers crossed that he is fit for the season. 

Thanks to the efforts of Mick Ireland the away dressing room has had new showers installed and the surroundings revamped. Simon Read has also removed the carpet and replaced this with a firmer foundation and new flooring. Whilst our team won’t benefit from these changes, we hope this improves the matchday experience of our competitors.  

Formulated Polymers have agreed to be the Club’s main sponsor again for the coming year so thank you to Neil, Michael and Martin for the support they give us which is far more than just financial – we are very lucky to have you.

On the senior cricketing front, Andy Dalby tells me that the teams are looking in good shape. After the start of fitness training (thanks to Mark Ainsworth aka Sparky) and yoga sessions (thanks to Evolving Fitness for their help), nets are in full swing as we prepare for a season. Good luck to our Captains: Harry Caton, Daisy Hunt, Michael Howarth and Simon Read – they will have many challenges along the way, but they will have the full support of the committee and membership. 

Phil Croft, who deservedly become a Life Member last year, has stepped down as Chair of the Academy. Phil did an exceptional job and the Academy went from strength to strength under his guidance. He has been replaced by Sarah Taylor, who has hit the ground running, and is a fantastic appointment for us. As always, a big thanks to the Coaches and Parents of our Academy children. I know there is a great deal of sacrifice in terms of time and travel that you give in order for the Academy to function and to provide the club with a strong future.

Related to the Academy is an issue that we are trying to manage to ensure that members can safely use the facilities at the club. We have several Academy members who have nut allergies and whilst to some this may seem trivial, the impact that the merest trace of nut oil can be devastating to their health and, in the worst-case scenario, lead to the loss of life. We will be taking measures to do what we can to minimise this risk and I ask you as members to do what you can to help.    

One of the last changes to mention is that for the first time in over 20 years Sheila McQueeney will no longer be with us as Club Secretary. Sheila has been part of the furniture as long as I have been at the club and her impact has been felt. She was a great support to me when I became Chair and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her.

I am always grateful to anyone who makes me look good, so this is an opportunity to thank the Committee for their unerring support and the unseen work that they do behind the scenes. Thanks to Ben Dack for his efforts as Treasurer and being the best in class when it comes to managing Play Cricket. On the fund-raising front, Rob Read and Claire Collinge, continue to successfully explore all avenues for grants and external funding. Pete Spencer is the best President we could possibly have – there is nothing he doesn’t know about the Club but, for me, his most valued role is keeping the beer lines clean along with fellow Friday Club members Russ Hamer and Ian Schofield – keep up the good work!    

Finally, I would like to thank you, our members, for your continued support. This will be my fourth season as Chair and there is nothing straightforward about running a club. Without the support of the Membership, we simply wouldn’t exist. These are challenging times for all local clubs but during my time you have not failed to support us and for that I am very grateful. The best illustration is when we stopped charging for entrance to first team games last year. There was a fear that some would take this as an opportunity to cancel their membership as a large part of the fee was to cover entry to games. These fears proved to be totally unfounded as you renewed in your droves and membership actually increased. You probably don’t need John Abrahams to tell you what you already know – we do have something special at Acre Bottom and we are always looking to improve because we are proud of the club we have inherited – but it would be nothing without your support. To make the payment process easier for you and ease the burden on Carol Rothwell, our hard-working Membership Secretary, there are QR codes below which you can scan to pay your subs.

So, with the above in mind, I’m confident that the club is akin to an obligate ram breathing Great White Shark heading full steam towards Amity Island where the local Mayor has kindly re-opened the beaches for us to fill our boots. Whilst fortune may never come with both hands full, I know that as a club we are ready to face any challenge and take advantage of any opportunities that come our way. 

Over to the cricket teams to make this a season to remember.

John Fox
Chair

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