We have been proud in recent seasons to record memorable times for Hornchurch Cricket Club. As we started this season with all six teams in the highest leagues, we knew it was going to be more of a challenge and that it proved to be. Except for our 1st XI all the teams did reasonably well, managing to establish themselves with credibility in their respective leagues. After a promising start to the season our 1st XI were left needing to win their last game to have a chance of staying up. Unfortunately, this was not to be and we were relegated. This was obviously a huge disappointment to us and although there were factors like not winning the toss, injuries to key players and loss of form, we have no complaints, because, as a team, we did not perform to anywhere near our true potential.
One player who certainly did however was Ian Flanagan, who joined us at the beginning of last season. Ian played in England’s Under 19’s winning team several years ago and his undoubted talent was evident throughout the season, finishing the League’s highest scorer with 940 runs including three hundreds and six fifties with a highest score of 182 not out. The bowlers found it tough going with Janie Dreyer leading the way on 22 wickets, although the emergence of home grown Dean Skipper into the 1st XI with 19 wickets and two five wicket match performances will hopefully show the way for others.
The 2nd XI managed to maintain Premier League status next year, despite being in the relegation zone for most of the season. Kevin Shallow with 434 runs led the run getters. Neil Adams was the pick of the bowlers taking 25 wickets, best figures of 6-58 against Five & Heronians. We hope for an improvement in 2006.
The 3rd XI spent the early part of the season in contention for honours but sadly fell away towards the end of the season leaving them in a respectable mid-table final position. Phil Brooks, who has been associated with the club from his early teens was prolific with the bat scoring 844 runs in 14 innings, including four hundreds and three fifties. Danny Simpson (OJ) certainly laid claimed to the all rounder’s position scoring 618 runs and taking 21 wickets. With better availability for the coming season we hope for honours.
The 4th XI pushed for the top spot throughout the season finishing in third place with only 21 points separating the first four places. Dave Wadsworth scored 409 league runs. Congratulations must go to both Bill Stallard and Jamie West who both made their first league hundred score. The wicket taking was certainly a team effort with AJ Du Plooy and Jason Syms taking 15 wickets each ably assisted by Graham Farquhar and Alan Foxton on 11 wickets each. With several emerging youngsters the team is looking to improve this year.
The 5th XI similar to the 4th XI were in contention for honours for a lot of the season but fell away towards the end, due mainly to lack of availability. Brian Roberts with 356 runs and Michael Rowe with 287 were the leading run scorers. On the bowling front, seasoned campaigners Surinder Goonetilleke and Frank Grann chipped in with 21 and 20 wickets respectfully. The encouraging thing to emerge from last year’s efforts are the performances of improving Colts - Billy Gordon, Jack Wade, Ben Spray and Adam Clements.
The 6th XI finished in an excellent 4th place in the League, despite on several occasions having to rely on the younger members coming in at the last minute because of unavailability of players in the higher teams. Chairman Jeremy West headed the run makers with 306 runs, including his first hundred for the club. Colt Ben Spray also added his maiden ton to his list of achievements. Club stalwart Doug Shewring continued to lead the wicket takers with 30, assisted by Captain Barry Bones with 18. Once again mention should be made of the Colts who contributed to the season - Michael Bones, David White, Joe Defreitas and Danny Selby.
This year saw the start of Twenty/20 cricket at club level; a form of cricket which appears to suit our Club in every respect. Although a knockout competition, we were delighted to be drawn at home in each round, winning every game and advancing to the finals. The amount of people watching this exciting type of cricket at Hornchurch was quite amazing, and with the combination of great weather, music and barbeques as well, our club benefited greatly. Unfortunately, after comprehensively beating favourites, Saffron Walden, in the semi-final, we lost to Loughton in the final.
During the last few years we have entered the League’s Over 40 and Under 15 competition. A cup competition that we have always played in the right spirit; allowing younger as well as the elder players to play an equal part. This year we reached the final, which we unfortunately lost to South Woodford who took the competition extremely seriously. Congratulations though to all who took part.
Our Youth Cricket continues to flourish with all teams having a successful season. It is most encouraging seeing many of our younger players now in our Saturday teams; not just making up the numbers, but regularly contributing to their team’s success. In particular the U13 ‘A’ team won the Havering League comprehensively, not losing a single game, and a special mention must go to 12 year old Michael Bones, who scored a century in the Peter Coe competition. Several of our Colts were selected for Essex County teams proving that our youth system is beginning to yield talented cricketers.
In June we again hosted and organised the Havering Inter-School 6-A-Side Competition for under 13’s. The same eight schools as the previous year took part, with the winners this time being St. Edwards School.
Youth cricket is the future of Hornchurch Cricket Club and we realise that over the last few years many people have contributed, whether through coaching, managing teams or administering our Cricket For All programme.
Although we were disappointed with our 1st XI being relegated, may we assure all connected with Hornchurch Cricket Club that we are more determined than ever to make sure we return to the premiership and progress from there.
The strength of Hornchurch is gauged not only by the success on the field, but also by the outstanding commitment by so many loyal people at the Club. It is unfair to name some and not others, so therefore may we thank everyone who has again contributed to the ongoing success of Hornchurch. The good friendly atmosphere that prevails is of great credit to all members and long may it continue. This was rewarded by the Club winning the League’s Hospitality award for last season. This award, given by the Umpires once again proves that great strides have been made at the Hornchurch over recent years.
We take this opportunity to reinforce our commitment to the local community and we would also like to thank all our Sponsors - Grove & Dean, Sportsmatch, The Jack Petchey Foundation as well as our numerous advertising sponsors who all 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 2006.