I would have liked my final report to have recorded success all the way but generally there were struggles on the field although there is some good news with the Club’s financial position considerably improved.
It was season 2016 all over again for the First team, who battled relegation throughout the summer before finishing fourth from bottom, an improvement of one position on the previous campaign. The final margin from the relegation zone was 30 points but it was all too close for comfort as we went into the final match at Himley still not certain of survival.
Mitigating circumstances were the loss in mid season of our pro Samit Gohel, who returned to India witha hand injury. To the rescue came our contracted player Jack Shantry, who contributed superbly to our successful relegation battle, shining with both bat and ball and, equally importantly, in the dressing room. His attitude and professionalism cannot be overstated and happily Jack plans to return to Orleton Park this season. There were also highly promising performances over the summer from three younger players – Dan Lloyd with the bat, Charlie Mackleworth behind the stumps and new bowler Jack Twigger, who had an excellent debut season.
Looking ahead we will be captained next season by our pro, Simon Khomari, who is returning to Wellington after a season five years ago. He takes over from Wendell Wagner, who has led the side with great enthusiasm for the last seven years – happily he plays on for us and has a vital role with both bat and ball.
The Seconds and Thirds had similar seasons – starting slowly and finishing strongly. The Seconds ended seventh in their division but were only one win away from fourth place while the Thirds were fourth from bottom of division two of the Shropshire League, eventually well clear of relegation.
The only silverware last summer was won by the Fourths, who topped their league with 15 wins from their 22 fixtures. Skipper Simon Topper led from the front to take the division’s batting trophy.
The Fifths and Sixths both had satisfactory seasons, particularly the Fifths who finished fifth in Sunday league One while the Sixths were one off the foot of the table. More importantly many highly talented youngsters played regular senior cricket which can only be good for the club’s future.
The Youth Section, under new leader Matt Stinson, thrived on the field although numbers – both coaches and youngsters - were down for Monday evening coaching. However, on the field it was success all the way - the Under 13s won both their league and the county cup where they were unbeaten for yet another season. The under 11s also won the county cup and were unbeaten in the league but did not play enough games to take the league title while the Under 15s won their league and were runners up in the county cup. The girls/ladies section was well down on numbers and this is an area that needs improvement – plans are already in place to remedy the situation.
Off the field there were few concerns, with all sections working well and consequently the financial position of the club considerably improved, details of which you will receive in the Treasurer’s report.
It was yet another extremely busy season for the Ground Committee with matches, both senior and junior, coming thick and fast. Extra work has been carried out on the main outfield this winter and the loam on the second ground has been upgraded, both of which should prove beneficial in the future.
Also hard at work has been the Fund raising/Social Committee with a variety of functions, although some of the organised events could have been better supported.
It would be remiss of me at this stage not to thank, on behalf of all members, the huge efforts of the Management Committee, and in particular Chairman Steve Oliver, to keep the club moving in the right direction, and also all members who have made a contribution, however large or small.
The season opened with members responding well to the important Cricket Force weekend and concluded with yet another highly successful Fireworks Night, producing a massive profit of around £15K. The club can’t thank organiser Steve Gough and his small sub committee enough for their efforts in raising such vital revenue, without which the club would be really struggling.
What of the future and, in particular, the next 12 months? The club face two major challenges, one being integrating with the huge housing development on land at the rear of the main car park. This will undoubtedly present a few teething problems but also an opportunity hopefully to increase our flagging membership, both socially and on the field. The second and vitally important challenge is to maintain our position in the Birmingham League set-up, which almost certainly will be reduced to just two divisions, probably for the 2020 season. It is vital that we strengthen to maintain our position as one of the senior clubs in the Midlands but that is easier said than done and, at the time of writing, attempts to recruit new players has proved very difficult.
In conclusion I would like to wish the club every success in the future. After 50 years as Club Secretary/Assistant Secretary it is time to take a back seat. It has been a memorable journey – the building of our new pavilion, planning for the second ground, big Gillette Cup and Natwest games with the likes of Ian Botham and Viv Richards playing at Orleton Park – but most importantly for the many cricketing friends I have made over the years. I would like to thank all members who have helped and supported me, none more so than my wife without whose support I could not have enjoyed such a lengthy stint. I have certainly tested her patience to the limit over the years!
Updated 14:23 - 20 Mar 2018 by David Ross