Chairman’s Report – November 2023

I’m delighted to report on a very successful twelve-months of sporting activity which has seen league or cup wins for both our senior and junior football sections, both our senior and junior cricket sections and our Pool team! Winning is often not simply about skill and tactics, but also about team spirit, something that has been very evident in each of our success stories. Congratulations to those who’ve been one of those team members and congratulations also to those who’ve worked behind the scenes to put everything into place so that the team itself can get on with playing. Of course, it’s not been success in terms of winning for all of our teams, but my congratulations and thanks extend to the players and volunteers who’ve kept teams going through tougher results as well. Indeed, that can be a far more difficult task than keeping a winning team going.

The successes mentioned mean that our senior football team now take on the challenges of Dorset Division Two, our evening league cricket team take on the task of playing in Division One, our junior teams of course, advance to their next age-group anyway and the pool team defend their titles. Good luck to them all.

Inflation and the cost of living continue to dominate the news on a regular basis, Consequently, we strive to keep a balance between ensuring financial security for the club, keeping in mind the increasing costs of maintenance and overheads, and keeping things affordable for our players and members. As ever, and I make no excuse for mentioning it every year, the key to this is the fact that most of our ‘labour’ is carried out by volunteers, far too many to attempt to list them here. The importance of that simply cannot be overstressed and I sincerely thank those who give freely of their time to carry out all manner of tasks around the club and at home, contributing to the success of the club. Every minute that a volunteer puts into whatever he or she is doing on behalf of the club saves us money and helps to keep costs down.

Again, the equation is simple. In the absence of so many volunteers our club ceases to offer so much, or worse still, fails to continue. Paying to cover the hours put in by team mangers, coaches, officials, administrators, kit washers, bar staff, ground staff, maintenance staff and so the list goes on, would take the club into a situation impossible to manage. It’s easy to forget that this club involves more than just sports teams. It takes a team to keep the ground and buildings up to standard too. On that note, many of you will have seen the new fence at the southern end of the field, the result of many months of determined and tireless work from Mark Bennett, following his initial application to the Football Foundation who eventually granted 75% of the costs. It was also great to award the contract to Matt Elford, thus supporting a local business run by a club member. I also take this opportunity to formally thank Mark for his years of dedicated service to the football section as Chairman as he steps down from the role.

The same goes for fund-raising and social events of course. Dean Merritt and Lucy Roberts have continued to host some great Quiz Nights. Ryan Brown has taken us down the path of ‘Film Nights’, an exciting new development, Alfie Reeves is organising a regular darts tournament and the sports sections themselves have created their own fundraising and social events.

Good luck to all the teams that face new challenges in higher divisions over the next twelve-months. Keep that team spirit up, whatever happens. Afterall, despite how it may seem to those ‘behind the scenes’ managers and administrators among us, sport at this level is for the enjoyment and social benefits.

Andy Kent

Chairman, November 2023