Membership and Selection

First written Christmas 2010

For next season an invitation list will be compiled by the committee … people who will be asked to play in the event of our being unable to raise a side from members.

In the event of too many applications being received for a match, the committee will select a balanced side – 21 November,1951

It was proposed and unanimously agreed that the secretary should write to these gentlemen offering to place their names on the invitation list to give them an opportunity to play this season with a view to their applying for full membership at the end of the season if they so wished – 22 March, 1954

Present limit 40. Total now 38. Of these 38, there are about 18 who can be called upon with every chance of them turning out; about 10 who might play if pressed and not playing elsewhere; and 10, who for reasons of age or health, or both, cannot play. The committee felt that the solution did not lie in the creation of a non-playing members list – AGM: 18 October, 1956

The Chairman commented on the difficulties of raising the teams and proposed the membership should be altered. It was resolved that the following members be offered non-playing membership – 19 October, 1962

It was decided that match captains should not select teams, as this was not in keeping with the aims of the club, but that match captains’ cards should be marked with the names of those likely to play – 28 October, 1975

Netherwood appointed team secretary to help match captains to coordinate their sides by contacting regular players and encourage people who haven’t played for a bit – 18 November, 1976

JB Netherwood was thanked for his work in helping to raise teams. Members are to be encouraged to phone match captains – 17 November, 1977

N Walker agreed with P Oldfield that membership should be encouraged to cricket players and not anybody for the sake of swelling membership – 24 November, 1982

… it was too early in the season for Jack [Wade]to get a clear picture of the [fixture] list for season 1988, but he did reassure everybody that there was plenty of teams wanting to play us, the only problem was people wanting to play for us each Sunday – 18 November, 1987

The secretary explained the tiresome exercise of bringing the membership up to date – 25 February, 1986

The committee decided that the following members should be struck off for failing to pay their subscriptions … – 22 October, 1970

Playing and being a member of a sports club might, on the face of it, be perceived as one and the same thing, particularly if the club mission is to give as many members as possible a game of cricket. Being short of players happens to league club second teams, particularly during the overlap with the soccer season. So, for a Sunday friendly team, having a restricted membership must increase the risk of not getting a full side.

The limited membership was stated as a way to provide a spot for anyone who wanted a game. Would I be unkind in suggesting this was a slight smokescreen for ‘we need to be sure about prospective players being one of us’. Not everyone on this restricted list could or wanted to play however and it soon became apparent that the numbers had to increase, albeit by very small increments. The resulting extra income was never mentioned in the minutes.

Its a fair assumption that captains and the committee were and are all members. Certainly, at some stage, they will all have been invited. Back in the old days new blood came from invitees, who could play but weren’t members. They ‘did not constitute a waiting list for membership’ and were there ‘in the event of our being unable to raise a side’. I imagine, if they were good enough or their face fitted, they would soon be proposed, seconded and elected. However as the committee was quite strict about the numbers, someone had to retire to keep the membership down to the agreed limit. One way round it was found in 1973, ‘In view of The Treasurer’s statement that some members had failed to pay their subscriptions, the committee reviewed the list of offenders and ordered the removal of seven names from the membership list.’ Otherwise they would have needed to rely on resignations. Other escape routes devised in the 1950’s were  lists of patrons, sponsors and honorary members. Guys who didn’t play and didn’t clutter up the members list, but who could still contribute financially. A non-players list was actually mooted in the 1950’s and turned down.

It’s hard to tell from the minutes, but somewhere in the 1980’s or 1990’s, the limited membership fell by the wayside. Today the list is endless. A likely lad gets invited. If he plays well and fits in after two or three games, he’s presented with a banker’s standing order, a cap, a fixture list and a copy of Jim Netherwood’s book. Players who are passed it join the non-playing list which somewhere in Casuals’ history became acceptable. They are not encouraged to cancel their standing orders. However, even today there are long-standing invitees who have never made it to a banker’s order.

Skippers can choose from three types of membership: playing, occasional and non-playing. Players make up a page, non-players two pages, whilst the occasionals are a page and a half; about 40 names per page in small type. These lists are contained in ‘The Book’. You might imagine it as a well worn leather volume containing the traditions and history of the Casuals? A spanking glossy annual, complete with pictures and a crossword, eagerly awaited in the Christmas stocking? It’s neither. It’s not quite the size of a fiver, convenient for the inside pocket if remembered, made of paper and card, and stapled together. The cover has a different colour every year which varies from a pink that verges on the cerise to a sickly dark green and there are about as many shades in between as Jim Harris’ hair tints. ‘The Book’ is the source of all Casuals’ information or so some people think. It contains lists of officials and fixtures as well as player contact numbers. Any question about The Casuals has one reply, “Look in ‘The Book”. However, some of the information is incorrect and there is a list of contacts that is missing.

Take the occasionals. They are players who say that they think they might be available, or simply can’t admit they are past it or have a terminal case of being unable to say no. They are each issued with a fixture list and, like other potential players, they are kindly asked to contact the relevant match captain to say they would like a game. Like current players, they very rarely do and captains rarely phone them either. In addition, we’ve had guys who’ve played occasionally, like friends and relatives, available at odd times only, but who are not on the occasionals’ list. It doesn’t get discussed and if it were it would be difficult to explain. A gallic shrug maybe, “That’s how it is.” The list missing from the ‘The Book’ is thus the occasionals who are not on the occasional list. For pedants’ sake, Dan Smith, Ed Crossland and Simon Hooson are exceptions. For the record my son is an occasional that does not appear on the occasional list.

Did we have any ringers? There’s no ringer list in “The Book” and they certainly don’t call and ask for a game. The dictionary defines ringer as a contestant who is entered in a competition under false pretences. This would be harsh on our captains. They do select their personal choice, but I doubt there is a deliberate attempt to deceive the opposition. Since their foundation, The Casuals have shared out the captaincy. Depending on interest there are up to nine weary volunteers who undergo the highs and lows of getting a side together. Rupert, Bill,  Will, Ken Jagger, Marc Davis, Mark Windale and Marcus Longbottom were captains when I started. Ken restricted himself to the touring team fixture, nevertheless eagerly awaited because of his wife’s, Jean’s, cricket teas. Then the three Mar….’s stood down. Marcus left for Somerset. Mark had to hand over because he was mostly in Thailand, developing educational programmes. I think he would also admit to running out of fitness. Marc felt someone else ought to have a go. In came Sam and Umbers and a couple of years later, Paul Noz Brown and Duncan Cleave who both made their debuts against The Rugby Club.

Captains and their matches are doled out at the Spring committee meeting. In February or March, they have no idea of their personal commitments on match days, so who is captain on the Summer Sunday can be a lottery. They nevertheless discharge their responsibility to get eleven players at a certain place by a certain time. The first three games of the season could be covered by those attending The AGM? A good idea, but some players are not there. Another good ploy is to select those who played last week. In other words one captain has to ring up the next on the rota. It sounds easy enough. And then there is the Caythorpe factor. Will the usual suspects be enough for strong opposition? So its fair that the captains have some slack, and again its fair to say some have more slack than others.

Around the time I retired from playing cricket, I had a short association with the giddy heights of The Casuals’ administration. Perceptively, I noted that the membership list had not been updated for several years and the occasional list really needed sorting out. There had been the odd phone call. Someone had moved and vaguely thought they’d better tell Bill, or a grieving widow phoned thanking Bill for the fixture list, but thought she let the subscription lapse.

There had also been mention in the minutes over the years of members not paying their subs and being deleted from any of the lists.

So I thought I’d have a go at modernising the membership information. I had a look at the bank statements first. Quite a few were on standing orders, four of whom had no contact details but the money was still coming in. Quite a few were not paying anything, but were still receiving the fixture list. I then got on the phone to confirm the details we had – I hadn’t a clue who they were or how old they might be. Their responses varied.

No reply.

Answerphone.

‘Hello ………… no he died five years ago.’

‘Hello, I’m his mum. He’s moved to Cheshire. I’m sure he’d love to play. Do you want his new number?’

‘Hello, I’m his dad. He’s an idle sod. He should play. Use this number for contact.’

‘They moved away years ago. Somewhere near Ripponden. No idea of their number.’

‘I’m his wife. Yes he’d love to play. We took the kids to The Caribbean last summer and played a bit of beach cricket. Richie Richardson said he was a natural.’

‘How old do you thing I am? Put me on the non-player list.’

‘No, I’ve a bad knee. I’m well over fifty.’

‘Hi. How’s so-and-so. Gosh we had some great times (followed by a detailed account of a catch, or an innings, or a wicket or two). Yes course I’ll play. I’ll have a look at the fixtures and see when I’m available. Remember me to so-and-so.’

‘Erm, I haven’t played for years …………. why not? Yes, put me down, I’d love to turn out for the odd game.’

Everyone was polite and tried to help. The ‘no replies’ sort of tallied with some of the non-payers, so the list was rationalised a bit. However, a lot of the non-payers turned out to be recent occasionals who’d become sort of regular but had not been signed up. Thankfully, not difficult to correct. I said I hadn’t a clue how old some of the members were, but that was not quite true, because their subscription fee was the clue. The smaller it was, the older the player or ex-player. £2 per annum for the fifty, sixty and seventy year olds, many of the names recognisable from The AGM. Quite a lot of Taylors for some reason. The amount then  jumped at random, depending if anyone brought had it up at the biannual committee meeting.

‘Didn’t we ought to increase annual subs?’

The answer was straight forward. Either, ‘No.’ or ‘Yes.’

‘No’ was the better answer, avoiding a three hour discussion as to what the fee should go up to.’

 

2013

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