The 2008 League season will go down in Hornchurch’s history as greatly disappointing on one hand, but extremely encouraging on the other. To miss out in three competitions at the final hurdle in the manner we did, is heartbreaking, especially as we had done so well to get to two finals and pushing for promotion to the Premier Division.
Moments change games, a cliché that is often used in sport, but this was typical of our luck. After reaching the final of the League Cup for the first time in our Club’s history and achieving a reasonable score batting first, we looked to get early wickets with our successful pace attack of Richard Sherlock and Jamie Went. Unfortunately, Jamie pulled a hamstring just as Colchester’s inning started and could not bowl, which therefore dented our response severely and we lost by 5 wickets. Our 20/20 season was again eventful. There is no doubt 20/20 cricket at Harrow Lodge is special, with the atmosphere and entertainment as good as ever in the 2008 season. Having reached the final again, for the third time in four years, we played Colchester in the first match. Batting first, we got off to a great start being 26-0 in the second over. However, in the next two overs we lost Chris Gladwin who was run out to an incredible piece of fielding and Paul Murray and Darren Robinson to equally good catches, we did not recover from that position and lost quite easily.
The most frustrating and heartbreaking situation arose in the final week of the League season. Having played well as a unit throughout the summer, we went into the final game thinking all we needed was a win to achieve promotion to the Premier Division. After successfully doing just that, we became aware that Chelmsford also thought they had gained promotion. Within the following weeks much letter writing and debates took place, the outcome being we were deducted two points for a late result sheet and Umpire card for an earlier week, which meant we remained in Division One. The fact that the envelope providing those sheets was seen by the Post Office to be slightly over the permitted thickness due to the sheet being folded four times rather than three, was the reason it was not delivered and kept at the sorting office. There are many issues appertaining to this which begged questions and although of no use this year, much needed changes to the score sheet collation were made at the AGM League meeting in November. It is typical of our season that a non-cricket incident cost us a place in the Premiership.
Back to cricket matters, and leading from the front, 1st XI Captain Paul Murray was in the runs throughout the season, scoring a total of 1347 runs, which included five centuries in both League and Cup competitions. He was ably assisted by Kym Beazleigh and Darren Robinson making the opening trio a formidable team. They were backed up by strong performances from Anthony Sealey, Richard Sherlock and Chris Gladwin. The bowling attack was hampered by injuries to Glen Noller and Craig Smith which resulted in them not being present all season. However, Richard Sherlock proved a good all rounder by taking 35 wickets supported by Marc Whitlock (29 wickets) and Jamie Went (26 wickets). Darren Robinson proved useful as a foil to the usual bowlers, taking 17 wickets in only 54 overs. Opportunities in the 1st XI were giving to our young players who have benefited from our successful Cricket For All programme, with Billy Gordon, the most prominent. The overseas player from 2007, Cameron Nupier, returns for the 2009 season and all the club wish Richard Sherlock success in his new venture. The squad of 2009, we are sure, will be pushing for honours once again.
The 2nd XI’s year was one of consolidation with Andy Roberts continuing to be the most effective with the bat, scoring 391 runs. Promising talents, Billy Gordon (331 runs) and Lee Bones (325 runs), continued to improve, ably assisted by Grant Williams who bludgeoned 322 runs in eight innings. The bowling attack was led by Captain Myles Wells (17 wickets) and former Captain Dean Skipper (16 wickets). Experience counted with stalwarts Dave Kiff and Mark Ede rolling back the years and offering Myles the benefits of their cricketing knowledge. With the emerging youngsters, this team can only reach higher levels as they improve and gain experience.
Like the 2nd XI, Hornchurch’s 3rd XI finished mid-table and is looking to improve in the coming season. Young player, Ronnie Saunders, was the pick of the batsmen, with 380 runs, ably supported by father and son Michael and Simon Rowe. Matt Roberts and improving bowlers Luke Edwards and Joe DeFreitas were the pick of the bowling attack.. This team suffered a large number of abandoned games than other teams and this, coupled with to many drawn games, contributed to it’s position in the table. We look for further improvements during the 2009 season as well as better weather.
The 4th XI continues to maintain a high standard and frustratingly finished runners up again after leading the chasing pack for the majority of the season. Although only losing one game, the lack of availability in the latter part of the campaign once again proved costly. Experienced batsmen, AJ DuPloy (413 runs) and Tony Willison (399 runs) helped set high targets and chase down big totals. Jason Syms (41 wickets) and Captain Alan Foxton (21 wickets maintained a high standard of consistency with the ball. We hope that the 2009 season will see this team not falter at the final hurdle and win the League.
The 5th XI had an excellent season finishing runners up. A true team effort with the young and old contributing with the bat and ball. Mike Clifford (147 runs) was the pick of the batsmen, but the success of the team came from the bowlers, with Colt spinner Jack Filtness (16 wickets) and Adam Clements (10 wickets) clearly indicating that the Club’s youth policy is beginning to bear fruit. We hope the success continues during the 2009 season.
The 6th XI had a disappointing year from a League position but contributed to introduce younger members to the rigors of League cricket. A number of youngsters showing early promise were Jake Fry, Chris Collison, Perry Bashford and Alex Mitchell. The bowling performances were dominated by the wily old pair, Frank Grann (23 wickets) and Doug Shewring (15 wickets), the former taking a hat-trick against Standford-Le-Hope. Danny O’Sullivan, Francis Jacobs and Paul Carter also made telling contributions and should look to push for higher places in 2009. The 6th XI will once again be looking to improve it’s League position as well as bring the youngsters through.
The strength of Hornchurch Cricket 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. The good friendly atmosphere that prevails is of great credit to all members and long may it continue.
We once again take this opportunity to reinforce our commitment to the local community and to raise the profile of cricket in the area, surely something we can all benefit from.
We take time in thanking our sponsors, Grove & Dean, Sportsmatch, The Jack Petchey Foundation as well as our numerous advertising sponsors, ALL who provide significant and welcome financial help to enable Hornchurch 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 2009.