Updates on the bar, junior teams performance, completion of the new nets, discounted club kit for sale and other news...
We’ve had mixed results for our senior teams since my last note but despite a week off and a loss on Saturday the1st team still sit top. I’ve had very little support in my request for people to write any words about senior games to acompany these notes but attached is some detail on the 4ths season so far and the 3rd team’s game on Saturday. It would be great to find others who are willing to do likewise for the other teams.
I’ve talked a lot in previous notes about the pavilion generally and this time I want to focus specifically on the bar. I sat down with Bar Manager Dave Hill last week to look at how it was running and consider feedback from members. It’s been great to see the bar being used much more on Saturday afternoons particularly with lot’s more members and spectators making the most of the new facility. Dave and his team are doing a great job but, like the rest of us, are learning all the time about what works well what doesn’t and one key area of discussion is making sure we have the right levels of staffing at peak times.
Like every pub and club throughout the land, there are times when demand exceeds supply for very short periods such as the 10/15 minutes when a game finishes. It's not financially sustainable to set staffing levels for these short periods but I can assure you the bar team are committed to working through these times as quickly as possible so am grateful for your patience.
It’s also worth making the point that whilst Dave is employed by the Club to manage the bar he has, and is still doing 50-100% more hours than he is paid for to ensure the whole pavilion operation runs smoothly. He is also a member and so as entitled to his leisure time and to enjoy a drink with friends as any of us and it’s not his job to cover these busy periods. If he chooses to (which he more than often does does) voluntarily that is his choice and we should not just expect it and he certainly should not be criticised for not doing so.
His job is to ensure we have the right level of staffing whilst balancing the books and I will continue to keep an eye on this, listen to feedback and ensure the bar runs as smoothly as it can.
One of the other topics of discussion was being able to publish a clear set of opening hours. Whilst that isn’t always as simple as it sounds as we have all sorts of different events and matches that can change plans I wanted to try and communicate a basic set of hours so you know when you can expect as a minimum to be able to get a drink.
- Monday 5-8pm (April to August)
- Tuesday closed
- Wednesday closed
- Thursday closed
- Friday 7-11
- Saturday 1-11pm (Apr to Aug), 7-11pm (Sept to Mch)
- Sunday 2-10.30pm (Apr to Aug)
- Match Days (Mon - Fri) - bar will be open whilst game is ongoing
Whilst these wil be the basic hours our ability to open on Friday and Saturday oustide of the season will very much depend on the amount of trade so it is down to members to make these successful. These will also change over time hopefully as new user groups come on board.
Last week we hosted an orchestral music concert for 2 local schools (Temple Hill & Oakfield) which was a further great opportunity to showcase the Club with c500 school chidren, friends and family able to enjoy the music, the weather and the facilities. We have also hosted 2 Kent representative games over the last fortnight as highlighted in my last blog and the feedback about the Pavilion, the ground and more importantly the hospitality provided has been excellent.
Those that have been around the Club this weekend will have seen that the nets are now complete and having had the opportunity to use them I can tell you they are a fantastic facility and one we should be very proud of. The security fence is still being put up and there are some logistical issues to overcome around the Pavilion end, we are at least able to use them now for training. It will still take a bit of time until they are fully finished and the landscaping is done to the entrance so they are properly accessible so until then, they remain out of bounds outside of club training nights and please take extra care when entering and leaving them.
Last week saw a number of fantastic achievements, with the u11As winning their league, the u16s possibly winning theirs (subject to the league deciding how to apportion/remove points for games against a team who pulled of the league) and a number of great individual team performances including a win for the u11Bs, a team made up of players just starting out on their cricketing careers. As always a roundup of results is attached.
I sat down with some of the coaches and the team managers now the season has finished to a talk about each player's development and the way the Club operates generally. I want to now take some time over the coming weeks to reflect on how I think the season has gone as well as consider feedback from players and parents. Things I want to focus on are
- Winter training, when and how we structure sessions,
- next summer and how we set that up, what teams we will enter into what leagues and finally
- how The Academy is that working, is it achieving what we want it to achieve, is the selection criteria transparent enough and are players getting the best out of it.
We have had an unprecedented number of teams conceding matches this year which has really hurt us and affected our ability to provide players with matches. No one is more frustrated than I am believe me so another key area I want to focus on is how we can get players playing more cricket next year. Club fixture Secretary James does a great job coordinating and organising our league fixtures but I’d really like to find someone who can support him by proactively contacting other clubs and encouraging then to play friendlies before, during and after the league season. If you’re interested please let me know.
What's really clear is that the u13 age group will be a really competitive age next year. We have a really talented crop of u11s some of whom will need the additional stretch of playing at the higher age group to really see them develop. Add this to the large number of players for whom u13 remains their age group, we are looking at potentially running 4 teams at this age in 2016. Whilst this is exciting and bodes well for The Club I am very conscious it is a big undertaking with a number of logistical challenges not least pitch availability.
The biggest concern for me though is finding enough volunteers to manage and support this extra team as well as the other 8 teams. Most teams this year benefitted from a dedicated manager, others haven’t and although he would probably argue with me about it it’s probably not fair to rely on Dan Rowson to run 3 teams as he has this year. To fill another gap I have also been coordinating availability and selecting the u15Bs, relying on different people on the day to manage the game itself.
Whilst I don't have the capacity to do this again next year it does demonstrate a model that sees a group of volunteers running a team can work and this has also been the case for the u13Cs to a greater or lesser degree. I remain extremely grateful to those who volunteer their time either to manage teams or to help out on match days as without them your children would not be playing cricket.
Whilst it has been much better this year, making sure we have enough lifts to take players to away games can still be a problem as last Sunday demonstrated where we had only 2 cars to take 9 under 15B players plus kit to Catford. It's simply not fair to always rely on those that come to every game to always be providing lifts and we need to ensure we share the load. I really don’t want to select teams based on who provides lifts so going forward players must not be left at the meet until it is clear we have sufficient lifts s if this happens again we will have to cancel games.
The final point on the theme of volunteering and not relying on others, it is everyone’s responsibility to help clear up after matches and training so please don’t rush straight off. I don’t want to have to cut sessions short to force the issue so please encourage players to help as the more that do the quicker it’s done.
Saturday saw the first of our young players, Joel Constant, take advantage of the opportunity to perform 12th man duties for the 1st XI in their league game with Tenterden. The idea of this initiative is to give our young players a glimpse of what it’s like to play serious senior cricket and Joel was fully involved with the team, being fully involved in prep, the warm up, team meeting, team huddle as well as carrying drinks and having a net with some of the players. From talking to Joel afterwards I know he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot and so we are looking at another youngster having the opportunity at this Saturday’s game.
Joel is one of 5 of our under 13s that have been invited to tour South Africa in February as part of a joint tour with Colfes School Academy under the leadership of Grahame Clinton. Having had the opportunity myself to visit and play cricket in another country this is obviously a fabulous opportunity and I hope this will be the start of a regular venture for us and our young cricketers. I will let you have further information on the details in due course as I know you will join me in congratulating and supporting them. I will keep you updated on the detail as it takes shape
Finally on juniors, although the league season has now finished training will continue to run on Mondays & Tuesdays for Academy members with the last sessions being 24th & 25th AugustKit
Due to our returns policy Kalibazar our kit suppliers end up with a number of ‘ready finished’ garments for our Club. These items are all brand new but will have been returned due to being the wrong size for the customer it was originally sent to. They are offering these at a huge discount of 50% and have the following available.
SUR55 (White Trousers) – L x 2
SUR345NA (Sleeveless Jumper) – MB (Juniors)
SUR327NA (Navy Curve Polo) – XXL
SUR331NA (Navy Curve Shorts) – L x 2
These will be offered on a first come first served basis and unfortunately they won’t be able to offer any returns on these or add further details such as personalisation.
if you would like to purchase one of the items. Prices can be seen by taking 50% of your shop price while P&P will be at the standard rate:
1 item - £2.95
2-3 items - £4.95
3 items or more - £6.95 Dates for the diary
- Summer camps - Held at Hesketh Park, open to all with a mix of our own plus ex professional players.
- August 4th - Football with Steve Kember & Colin Pates, 10-3
- August 5th & 6th - 2 hour intensive cricket with David Ward & Vince Wells
- August 11th & 12th - General cricket, 10-3
- Shaun Parker testimonial - Dartford CC v Kent League All stars, 30th August
- Junior Presentation - 18th September full details inc timings to follow but if you're able to help with the planning or on the night or you have anything you can donate for a raffle please contact Dan Rowson or myself. Raffle tickets will go on sale from Monday from the tuck shop (£5 each) and included in the list of prizes is free junior membership for 2016!
until next time....