became increasingly obvious as 2002 wore on that we would encounter
problems if steps were not taken to counter the loss of players we
knew would occur by the seasons end. The club had already undertaken a
leaflet drop around the village the previous year but this time around
we had more to offer. After numerous delays, the new pitch had been
laid in the spring and all had gone to plan with a big opening day set
for May the following year. Having also set our sights on developing a
colts side the committee planned a more ambitious series of leaflet
drops throughout the neighbouring villages detailing what we as a club
had to offer. Our reward was a raised profile in the area with much
interest shown from individuals wishing to see if they fitted in with
our approach to the Great Game. Their reward was that it was just what
they wanted, so we must have been doing something right.
team performed very well allowing for the fact that it was a mainly reorganised
side with many new players from the very successful recruiting campaign early in
the year. We
picked up a couple of reasonable fixtures too. Chadwick are a good-natured side
that enjoyed our company enough that despite beating us, wanted a return game in
2004. Shamley Green have said since their beating us in May that we "caught them
on a good day" and look forward to a balanced re-match in 2004.
So the season
itself started with defeat at Chadwick, but everybody's mind was really on the
next game on May 4th - the President's Day pitch opening special. This day saw
the culmination of years grafting and fundraising to realise the vision had by
the Committee over ten years ago. The programme initiated toward our goal was in
part inspired by John Gaisford who, with his wife Gail, gave us the self-belief
to follow the plan through despite early setbacks and disappointments. It is
perhaps not surprising that we asked John to become our President and were
delighted when he accepted.
great day arrived and rarely - if ever - have so many people attended a West End
sadly passed away a few years back but it would have gladdened his heart to have
seen such a scene up at the Recreation ground.
The match, which featured the Captain Howard Turner's team battling it out with
President Paul Bates' team on our new, hallowed turf was preceded by the
symbolic opening ceremony for which Howard and Paul were joined by Gail Gaisford.
After a few words from each Gail cut the ribbon to declare the new wickets open
and after lunch, the battle commenced. To say a team from West End won the game
is missing the point slightly, but for the record Paul stated that he'd "never
lost a President's Day game", after his side won, that is.
landmark day in WECC's history was followed with a string of defeats of which
the last was a drubbing at picturesque Tilford by both the home team and the
Fairlands on our new wicket brought a halt to the losses although, in chasing
their total we allowed their opening bowler to reduce us to 8 runs for 6
wickets! A mark of determination brought us back from an embarrassing defeat to
a respectable draw. Our long-awaited turnaround in fortunes came the following
week against Engelfield Green, and featured a quality innings from Ian Brown.
His guts and determination on our challenging wicket saw him through to his
first fifty and allowed our bowlers
good all-round performances to procure our first
victory of the season,
all the more sweeter being the first proper win on proper home soil.
The Tour - the eighth one to
Cornwall - was excellent, as ever they all are. The hotel welcomed us with
baseball bats and chair legs, then herded us into the most appropriate location
for us - the bar. We had a full team for the Mount Hawke game - ironically lost
to rain and fog - but just the following day against Perranporth saw weather
conditions turn 90 degrees. The light breeze and warm sunshine spurred us to
another win, however a look at the scorebook displays some dubious circumstances
where this was brought about as our fourteenth man in on that day will testify.
the season was better than the two preceding years especially so once the team
settled down after May, the rest of the season consisting of only one-third
being defeats. The rest were draws or better. Brookwood, Cove, Westfield Saints
and Chobham were disappointments, but these were balanced by some good
performances against Fairlands where Johnno Greathead scored a confident,
battling fifty, and our bowlers did a good job on their batsmen. We narrowly
sneaking a win against Windlesham where our run-rate was good enough to have
reached our target despite the failing light. Perhaps what let us down was "Time Game"
conditions applied to the match; this meant we faced four less overs than the
home side when the call for "Twenty Overs" was given after the first hour of
play. Only the conference game against Pinkneys Green stands out as a major disappointment.
They were of a consistently better standard than us, although it must be said
that maybe we could have put up a better fight.
of the season; Ian Brown’s battling half Century; Johnno’s two half Centuries; Adie Lamberth's
thrash at Westfield; some very good
bowling efforts. Oh, and Adie Barrett’s “Stomp” at the start of his run-up.
North Croydon, Fairlands and Engelfield Green all renewed their associations
from 2002 and in two cases became a double-header. Another very plus point is
that we never struggled for players. Pretty much all fixtures saw a full team
out, save one for which we had to cancel as we had just the five available
players available. For everyone else to have legitimate reasons for not being
available on the same day is some coincidence! But the ultimate highlight has to
be playing on grass for the first time in twenty years or more. Sadly, our
ex-Chairman and life-member Alan Hull who was a leading light for many years
moved away to pastures green and cricket greens new. We wish him and his wife
Shirley best wishes for the future.
for our coming season; Duncan Perry arrives back on these shores full-time and is keen
to get back to playing cricket with us, and Richard Tedder from Chobham will
join this year as he enjoys our attitude and enjoyment of the game. New fixtures
picked up this season - Banstead,
Chadwick and Shamley Green - have all asked for a return match. All are very
pleasing indictments of the club's current appeal to potential players, but the
work must now continue to build on the landmark season that was 2003.