2018 was another busy year for the Club, which once again saw good progress both on and off the pitch.
Starting with the Senior sides, the highlight was, of course, the success of our newly-created 3rd team which comfortably won Division 7 and promotion in its inaugural season. This was a terrific achievement and we hope to see fewer last-minute concessions from opposition teams in Division 6. The side has a new ground-sharing agreement with Elstead for the forthcoming season which will bring them closer to home on what is usually a very well-maintained track.
Having gained promotion in 2017 it was important that our 2nd team consolidate their position in Division 2 and this they successfully achieved, finishing a very respectable 5th in a highly competitive group.
The 1st team faced tough challenges with reduced availability in a very strong top Division and at one stage looked as though they might face relegation – a catastrophic prospect as this would also have pushed the 2nds back down into Division 3. Fortunately, however, there was a very strong late rally which saw us break clear of the relegation zone and finish in 7th place. Over the Winter, we have been successful in recruiting a few strong players and this, combined with better availability should help to make us far more competitive this season.
Sunday cricket was rejuvenated with the appointment of match managers for all games before the season had commenced and with the removal of a few weaker fixtures combined with the addition of some excellent new opponents including the famous Authors Club. We are now one of very few village clubs which run 3 Saturday league sides as well as a full Sunday fixture list which runs throughout the season.
Last, but certainly not least, in terms of on-field activities, the Junior Section continued to go from strength to strength. Having been awarded an Outstanding Services to Cricket Award (OSCA) from the ECB as their London Region Club of the Year in 2017, Tilford was the first club in this country to recruit 100 children into the All Stars scheme in 2018 – another remarkable achievement. In fact, well over 100 boys and girls were coached on the Green over 12 Friday evenings last Summer and this coming year should see the first competitive cricket being played there by our older Juniors.
Turning to off-field developments, I mentioned our intention to obtain Clubmark status in this report last year and this was successfully obtained in early July. This is an important step forward for Tilford as it confirms that the County and ECB view us as a safe, well-run and sustainable Club. Now that we have a substantial Junior section, this is particularly key, providing reassurance to parents and also placing us in a far stronger position in the event that we seek external grant or other funding support.
With regards to the latter point, this year we have obtained ECB funding towards capital projects including the purchase of additional covers and a new Bowdry roller and we have invested in a new Club BBQ. We have also obtained funding from Aviva to assist with costs associated with reseeding of the outfield of the Green which suffered very badly as a result of last Summers drought conditions. Unlike most village green clubs, we receive no financial assistance from the Parish Council towards upkeep of the Green. We have asked if they would be prepared to contribute towards these exceptional costs, which were vital in restoring the village’s main asset to an attractive state, but to date without success.
Further investment is planned in the short term, including a roll-on concertina net and bowling machine for use by both Senior and Junior players. The potential project to develop the former public toilet site remains under discussion and meetings have been held with the ECB and Surrey CCC who are both broadly supportive. Such a plan would, of course, face many obstacles and require a huge amount of work in terms of project management, fund-raising and so on from our own club members. The Institute does not have the resources to lead the charge on this and so we will need to decide, as a Club Membership, whether we are prepared to jointly commit the necessary time and resources to try to see this project through to completion. A separate meeting of members may well be convened to discuss this further and ascertain support in due course.
The Social Committee did a great job in organizing another series of fun events during the year and this included a very successful Quiz Night and end of season BBQ and drinks to celebrate the 3rds promotion during their last game played at Tilford. Whilst the 2017 end of season dinner was fully attended, this years event saw a reduction in numbers and so we will probably revert to a November dinner in an external location next time around. In a similar vein, although the 2018 fete was incredibly well-organised and financially successful, it was noticeable that we were reliant on a smaller hard core of the usual volunteers and we need to spread the load to more of our number this year for this and other Club activities.
Our excellent Treasurers report will give details of how these events have contributed to the Clubs finances over the past 12 months but suffice to say that we remain well capitalised and solvent. I would just make the point that cricket at Tilford remains relatively cheap and this is in no small part due to the hard work of those that support and organize our fund-raising activities. If players want to keep things this way, it is therefore essential that all get involved and at the very least attend these events.
Following John and Mary Hunt’s departure to Sierra Leone, Tilford has twinned with their local cricket club, Kent CC. This remains a very impoverished nation and it’s fantastic that we have already been able to support their cricketers with two consignments of kit, with a third set in transit as we speak. We hear regularly of the progress of Kent from their CEO, Emmanuel Pessima and I know that he would like me to pass on his grateful thanks to all contributors for your generosity.
Tilford’s progress has been recognized by Surrey who have selected us as one of very few clubs that they will visit when they have the World Cup Trophy for the day on Sunday May 12th. This should be great fun and a good opportunity for some photo opportunities with the cup on a day which coincides with our fixture with The Authors who will themselves be bringing along as many well-known names as they can muster. We should have a decent crowd and plan to make a bit of an occasion of this, so please do mark it in your diaries.
In summary, the Club continued to baulk the trend of decline that many village clubs have experienced in recent times and successfully grew our vibrant Junior and Senior sections during 2018 whilst also achieving Clubmark status. 2019 promises to be another exciting season for Tilford CC and I would ask all members and supporters to please play a full part, both on and off the pitch, to make sure that we continue our progress.
Tilford Cricket Club,