Chairman’s Message - April 2021
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest monthly update. Apologies that it is a little later than usual but it’s been a hectic few weeks!
I will start by saying that I am delighted that our hard work has paid off and that our professional made it into the country in time for the season. Azim has been very excited to come and play his first season in England, and I have been in regular contact with him since the beginning of November when we first agreed to secure his services. Since then we have had Covid spikes, lockdowns, travel bans and even as recently as Monday, India was put onto the red list - effective from Friday. As the time grew closer, travel bans meant that daily flights turned into weekly flights, but after two cancellations, Azim arrived in England on Saturday morning. Due to quarantine rules, he was unable to take the field against Ryton for out first game but should be good to go against Newcastle City on Saturday. I have no doubt that he is an excellent addition to the team.
Onto playing matters. There seems to be a real buzz around the players for this season. Coupled with the 1st X1 having a top class professional and a renewed thirst after months of lockdown, we suddenly find ourselves leaving players out rather than asking the retired ones to hunt their gear out of the garage. As much as this is a welcome situation, it makes it an almost impossible task for the selection committee to have to decide who misses out. Our most recent think tank resulted in over an hour being spent on how best to assemble our 2nd X1 and even once we had made our decision, we had doubts.
The team captains and myself are hoping that competition for places will make players hungry to want to do well and I think this is reflected in seeing that there have been people training at the club almost every day of the week rather than the previous once a month. I can only hope this commitment will remain for the season and that results will reflect this positive attitude.
The season began on Saturday 17th April. Again, there are a set of rules as long as a piece of string, some of which are born out of common sense and some which maybe don’t make so much sense. At present we aren’t allowed spectators, however, interpreting what counts as a spectator, isn’t quite so easy. If someone is sat in our hospitality area and have a view of the match, then that’s fair game, but if they want to sit on their own on one of the benches by the score box, that isn’t. Confused yet? We are.
The league also decided that only a week before the season that our 1st X1 would play 45 overs instead of the usual 50. Much grumbling ensued from our usually beaming skipper…. Again it might not be a rule we wholeheartedly agree with, but it’s the same for everyone. One positive of this is that we might see the players in the beer garden earlier which can only be a good thing when David is reviewing the finances.
The 1st X1 kicked off the season with a solid 6 wicket win against Ryton. Jack Murray with 4 wickets and Mark Dixon with 3 wickets leading the way. The bowlers were certainly happy when they realised that the usual thorn in the side, Mo Ali, was nowhere to be seen. They made relatively short work of their target of 81 and picked up a full 30 points which is a great start with Azim still to come into the team.
The 2nd X1 played an even and well contested game at Tynemouth. Batting first they posted a competitive 173/7 from their 40 overs, Andrew Ray top scoring with 60. Despite 2 wickets each for Ewan McCabe and Stephen Gray, the hosts reached their target with 3 overs to spare. An encouraging start from a team that should be looking to challenge the top end of the table this season instead of playing like Steve Bruce is in charge….
As for the 3rd X1, they hosted Tantobie in a friendly on Sunday. Mark will be happy if I spare the details but in summary, runs were at a premium and they scored more than us.
Our juniors have begin training ready for their first games in a few weeks time. Their first session back was very well attended and the feedback was excellent from Ste and John as to how well the children had done and how keen and determined they all were. The future of our club is looking in great shape if this continues.
A lot of time and effort has gone in over the winter to try and improve the club. For those who have been to the ground, they will have seen that the net facility is finished and tidied up, the new patio is now furnished and illuminated, work has been done to tidy the score box and make it more user friendly for the scorers as well as lots of other little jobs being carried out.
One final big project was the conversion of ‘Davey’s Shed’ into a fully kitted out bar. It wasn’t quite finished for our first game, but thanks to some hard work from SGS Construction, Heineken and Innserve, we were able to serve drinks and begin to create some of our own revenue. The majority of the work will be completed this week construction wise, then it is just down to the arrival of some equipment (delayed due to someone not being able to drive a boat allegedly) and for the finishing touches to be added by the two Davids - Dixon and Wilkinson as they put their painting equipment to work.
We saw a good start to the life of the new bar in the new normal despite the slightly chilly temperatures later in the day and we are grateful to our patrons both old and new that supported us! We will now be emptying a bar person for every home Saturday game to provide the best service we can. Yes this costs us a little money, but there is only so much you can do as a volunteer with both your time and your patience. Make sure to say a friendly hello to your servers when you see them as they are now an integral part of the club.
We had some teething issues with our app ordering system but we are working with the company to get these ironed out ASAP and I was happy that once everyone had their half hour screaming in my ear and used the system, that they agreed it was the best way to proceed. We will never find a solution that suits both us and every single individual but I stuck my neck out and deiced this was a good happy medium for the time being to allow us to comply as fully as possible with both the council licensing section as well as the PHE guidance.
Apologies if any of the less technically minded folk struggle. One good bit of advice though, make good friends with the younger members and then guilt trip them into helping the aged for your next free drink at the club!
Going forward, the bar will be staffed from 2pm every Saturday when a hame takes place and all you have to do is sit at a table and have drinks brought to you. We haven’t advertised this to the wider audience just yet as we only have a dozen or so tables which will be available on a first come, first served basis. We can only apologise if we don’t have a table available to offer you service but it’s best we walk before we run. We do plan to host a series of social events as restrictions ease further, pending feedback from the council so please do keep your eyes peeled for these happening.
Well done and thank you to those of you who have made it this far before hitting the delete button but it’s difficult to be brief when there is so much positive news to share. I look forward to seeing you all over the coming weeks and hope that my May edition is as positive as this one was.
Take care of yourselves in the meantime, Ian