As the 2007 season finished we were left to reflect upon it being slightly disappointing from one angle but greatly encouraging from another.
Except for our 1st XI all our other teams played in the top division of their respective Leagues. Obviously this means playing at the highest levels and with the lack of availability of a number of senior players during the season, we struggled particularly in the 2nd and 3rd XI teams where sadly both were relegated. After being in a promising position for most of the season, our 4th XI narrowly missed out on winning their League.
The 5th and 6th XI’s regularly fielded many youngsters giving them experience as well as highlighting the abundance of young talent we have at Hornchurch.
Our 1st XI were very unlucky to miss out on promotion and had it not been for an abandoned game midway through the season, we may well have won the League. At the beginning of the season several changes were made, including installing Paul Murray as 1st XI Captain. Under his leadership and the ever canny Chris Gladwin, the team developed into an excellent unit with a great team spirit only losing two games throughout the campaign.
Our overseas player, Cameron Nupier, proved a terrific asset to the club, taking 51 wickets and scoring 451 runs. In August he achieved the near impossible by scoring 100 runs and taking all 10 wickets in the same match against Shenfield, a feat that has never been equalled before in the Essex Shepherd Neame League.
Although our success was due to an all round team effort, there were significant contributions with the bat from Kym Beazleigh (603 runs) and Chris Gladwin (583 runs). In addition to Cameron, bowling contributions came from Jamie Went (29 wickets) and Marc Whitlock (23 wickets). The 2nd XI had a disappointing season mainly due to lack of consistent availability of senior players and unfortunately were relegated. Improving youngster, Lee bones, topped the weakened batting line-up with 358 runs and ever consistent Dean Skipper chipped in with 31 wickets. With new Captain Myles Wells at the helm, we are hoping that this team bounces straight back into the top flight. Like the 2nd XI team, the 3rd XI were also relegated, winning only one game all season. The most notable contributions were from Matt Sullivan with the bat (274 runs), and Matt Roberts with the ball (13 wickets). Lack of runs and the inability to bowl sides out proved very costly. Here’s hoping for a quick return to the Premier Division. The 4th XI proved once again that it can compete in the top division on a regular basis. Losing only one game and drawing five, the team got into a winning habit, however falling away towards the end of the season due to lack of availability which meant they narrowly missed out on the honours, finishing in 3rd place. Tony Willison topped the batting with 272 runs and the Captain, Alan Foxton, took 27 wickets. We are hoping the success of this team continues into 2008.
The final trio of teams relegated during 2007 was the 5th XI. They like the 3rd XI lost the ability to win or even draw matches, only winning two games. Looking on the brighter side, it did mean that several of the emerging youngsters were ‘blooded’ into League cricket. Stalwart, Brian Roberts, topped the batting with 287 runs, with improving Ben Spray on 204 runs. Ever present Doug Shewring added to his formidable wicket tally with 18. We look forward to winning ways in 2008.
The 6th XI had a mixed season, with no half measures, it was either a win or a loss, with only one match drawn. Chris Newland (158 runs) and Chris James (118 runs) contributed to a more stable batting performance. Additionally, young prospect, Jack Filtness’s reward for a consistent season was 17 wickets. We will be looking for a continued improvement from the youngsters throughout 2008 and will continue to use the lower XI teams to bring on the youth of the Club.
Without doubt, the most encouraging aspect of our season was in seeing the emergence of so many talented youngsters. A number progressed to our higher teams, with Billy Gordon and Lee Bones making their 1st XI debuts. Others have also developed considerably in the lower teams, putting the future of Hornchurch in a healthy position.
Our one achievement of the season was , to a large extent, due to our young players when we won the Over 40’s/Under 15’s Essex Competition.
The weather unfortunately played a big part in our Cricket For All coaching programme, with Monday evenings in particular attracting adverse weather conditions, However, with Francis Baptiste departing, his successor, Paul Murray, filled the role with great energy and enthusiasm. May we thank him and the many other coaches who regularly helped out. Also, may we record thanks for the excellent commitment of our Youth Team Managers, most of whom give up every Sunday and some weekday evenings to ensure our youngsters continue to develop and enjoy themselves playing in their various teams.
In September, we held our Youth Presentation evening and the guest speaker was Ronnie Irani, the Essex Captain and now Talksport presenter. Over two hundred adults and youngsters attended the presentation, hearing many amusing tales from Ronnie. A few days later when he was presenting Talksport, he mentioned the amount of nice looking mums that were present that evening. As they say, all publicity is good.
Next season will be the Club’s 225th year, an incredible feat, making us one of the oldest clubs in the area. Various events will be held to mark this historical achievement and we sincerely hope the great family atmosphere which prevails both on and off the pitch will be evident in all we do.
The strength of our club is gauged not only by the high standard of cricket played on the field, but also by the outstanding commitment by so many loyal people behind the scenes. It would be unfair to name some and not others, so therefore, may we thank everyone who has again contributed to the ongoing success of the Club.
We once again take this opportunity to reinforce our commitment to the local community and to raise the profile of cricket in the area, which is something we can all benefit from.
We would like to thank our sponsors, Grove & Dean, Sportsmatch, The Jack Petchey Foundation as well as our numerous advertising sponsors who provide significant and welcome financial help to enable Hornchurch Cricket Club to achieve its aims.
May we conclude by offering a warm welcome to all players, umpires, scorers and spectators visiting Harrow Lodge and our associated grounds during 2008.