The 2008, and the Club’s 150th Anniversary Season, was an eventful one in the history of Upminster Cricket Club.
As with all seasons there were a fair amount of highs and lows, but fortunately come the end of the year, the positives far outweighed the negatives.
On the pitch it was appropriate that in such a special season the Club’s 1st XI should compete in the Essex Premier Division. If any of us were worried how we would cope on the field with such a challenge, then we needn’t have!! Oliver Peck led the side in his familiar attacking style, and this approach paid dividends. Rather than looking over our shoulders at those below us, we were looking ahead to those at the top, and while the side eventually missed out on the runners up spot, an eventual finish of 4th was a fine effort in our first season at this level. With the bat there were good contributions from Terry Wyatt, Alan Ison and Jason McNally. With the ball the outstanding performer was our Overseas Coach Naeem Iqbal who took 48 wickets and was a handful for batsman all season. He was well supported by fellow spinners Arshad Ali and Oliver Peck.
The side also competed well in the cup competitions. In the League Cup they advanced to the semi-finals before losing a replayed game against local friends and rivals Hornchurch, and in the National Cup the Club reached the regional semi finals for the first time before bowing out. There were early exits in the Evening Standard Trophy, the Bertie Joel Cup and the Shepherd Neame 20/20.
For the rest of our Saturday sides, there was also huge success as the last Saturday of the season turned into one of the most remarkable days (and evenings!!) in the Club’s recent history. The 2nd XI jumped from 4th to 2nd on the last Saturday to finally regain the Premier Division place they relinquished in 2002. Young captain Nicky Ison got the best out of an up and coming side which will improve further in the future. Mike Harrison, Junaid Sarwar Mark Schofield and John Curtis formed the backbone of the team’s batting line up, while James Aggio-Brewe, Andrew Berry, Rob White and the skipper shone with the ball. All the team are looking forward to the competing at the higher level next season. Will Sissen’s 4th XI also gained a last day promotion, pipping their Hornchurch counterparts to the title after a season long battle in which Russ Murphy starred with the bat and Tom Simpson and Kevin Roome shone with the ball. This also meant the 5th XI were finally able to gain a deserved promotion to the 4th XI Premier Division for 2009 as well. Karim Govani was able to call on a nice balance of youth and experience as his side finished runners up to a powerful Harold Wood side. The 3rd XI also finished runners up in the Premier Division for a 3rd successive season, while the 6th XI finished a creditable 3rd in their section and began to bring through the next batch of youngsters.
On Sundays those who played also had an enjoyable summer. The Club entered a side in the Essex Sunday League for the first time in three seasons and the side showed the Club’s depth by finishing 5th under the captaincy of Will Murphy while the Sunday 3rd XI played a number of enjoyable fixtures around the county. Our colts section, under the guidance of Paul Bussey continued to thrive in 2008. Paul will be the first to admit that he now has the backing and assistance of a large number of parents and helpers which help to make this section run so smoothly. The colts section now contains nearly 150 boys and girls of various ages and abilities, and is paramount to the continued success of our Club. Games are played against all other local Clubs and some from further afield, and results in 2008 were again excellent. We also saw the next batch of youngsters move up to play senior cricket on Saturdays and Sundays.
Part of the success of the senior and colts sections in 2008 was down to our Overseas Coach Naeem Iqbal. Naeem was a massive hit with everyone at the Club, on and off the pitch. He had a hugely successful season on the pitch, and off the pitch helped to provide an extensive coaching programme to the colts section, and also, along with Nicky Ison, helped to run a very worthwhile summer holiday coaching school for a number of our colts. On top of all this, Naeem was a great person to have around the Club. We hope that Naeem will be able to return to Upminster again for the 2009 season.
As well as our own colts coaching, we also entered the ECB run, Chance To Shine scheme for the first time. This is a scheme for Clubs to organise and provide coaching in local state schools. The benefits of this scheme are for both the schools and the Clubs, and over 325 hours of qualified coaching was provided in schools in the Upminster area, on behalf of Upminster Cricket Club. This is a scheme we intend to continue with in 2009, and hopefully over the next few years we will see benefits to both our colts and seniors section, as well as ensuring the Club continues to play an important role in the local community.
Of course, 2008 was the Club’s 150th Anniversary Season, and several events were planned to celebrate this landmark. These started with an excellent pre-season dinner at West Lodge which was attended by over 120 people including past and present members, and guests from other local clubs. Other 150th events were hit severely by the weather which was a shame for all those involved. The President’s V Chairman’s 20/20 game survived the rain, as did most of the all day game with the Gents Of Essex. However, the games against the CCC and the MCC were complete washouts. However, the CCC kindly agreed to replay the game later in the season, and the day was a huge success with Upminster winning a thoroughly entertaining game of cricket late in the day. All at Upminster would like to thank the CCC for going out of their way to play this game after the original washout. We also played a special game against Ingatestone and Fryerning, where both Clubs were celebrating their 150th Seasons. While these games were not blessed with great weather, they were enjoyed by everyone who played in and watched them, and were a fitting way to mark this special season.
Off the pitch the Club’s Committee continued to try and push the Club forward in 2008. Plans are being moved along to further increase our practice and net facilities at our main ground, and initial discussions are taking place to try and provide a further grass wicket ground in the area for our lower elevens. We also continue to work with local community groups to ensure that the Club can play a positive role in the local community.
Of course all Clubs such as ours are dependant on the volunteer services of many people, and at Upminster we are very lucky to have so many willing and able members who help to run things so smoothly. There are too many to name in something like this but to all those who have helped organise events, work on the ground, make the teas and run the bar, a big thank you. And also on behalf of all players at Upminster, a big thank you to those who scored and umpired games during 2008, whether from Upminster or from one of our opponents. Without you all, the game would not be possible
All that remains is to wish all clubs an enjoyable, and hopefully dry, 2009, and we look forward to welcoming our opponents to Upminster Cricket Club.