A potentially depressing month like January requires, I feel, the focus on the plans we have for 2022 to bring the warmth and optimism that good times are ahead especially now that the days are again lengthening and cold, clear Winter days leave Englands looking resplendent in sunshine. After some spectacularly early and frustrating work calls, I got in the car recently, made my way up to Englands to drink a coffee, regain my composure and watch the sun burst over the playing field covered by a hard frost.
This leads onto the news that for the 2022 season as a minimum, the cricket club is partnering with the Frank Water charity based in Bristol. We will carry their logo on our shirts and have a fundraising cricket match in the summer. We are a charity too but charities must look after each other and the reason we have partnered with them is their link with one of our finest clubmen, Simon Gordon-Walker who was heavily involved with village bodies and the club for 20 years and who died very early and suddenly in November 2018. Many get the label "legend" these days but Simon is one of the club's greatest and those of us left to try to fill his huge shoes have no hope of matching his achievements. With Geoff Chapman he raised funds for the current pavilion, including being one third of a sponsored three-man tandem ride to Lords. He developed and ran our youth section with the modern Gloucestershire Cricket Youth Leagues, his brainchild. He did any job that needed doing in order to push the club forward and benefit players of all ages but especially the youth. On top of this he was a great friend and we believed the best way to mark his life would be to carry on the work he left behind. The youth section, which he built and ran is there, following the template he created; however the piece that was missing was the fundraising he did for Frank Water. Jamie, his son, still does this and for 2022 as a club, we will step up and stand next to Jamie.
For those of us who knew Simon, having the logo on our shirts will mean we carry a bit of him onto the field along with memory of the acerbic wit which would jump on a low score or dropped catch. For those who did not meet him, Frank Water is simply the most fantastic charity putting clean water in Indian and Nepali homes. Cricket has a volatile relationship with water, whether it refreshes on the three scorching weekends in a summer, brews the all important tea on cold days or prevents us playing on most of the others, we are either in love with or loathe it. After the individual plastic bottle-prompted world of Covid, we are keen to move to a more sustainable approach to water and they will help us do this. It's the most brilliant early season win for us and the new kit will be up for sale by the time the Eye hits doormats. We've also got some rather smart re-usable co-branded bottles on the way with proceeds benefiting them. The partnership will be announced more publically in the coming weeks but it's right to give you early knowledge.
Of other goals for the year, we have new members joining already to help us work towards playing targets including, a young player from South Africa who along with our charity partner we hope will have an impact on our youth about the wider world. We hope to have a ladies tour, grow the offering to our girls and adapt our changing facilities to better suit our female players as the diverse nature of our playing base increases in senior sides. Despite the headlines about cricket recently, I have never known a more inclusive environment but we have work to do still, to look after all our members. We have our part in the Queen's Jubilee celebration to plan and deliver and look forward to playing a role in hosting you for this. We are increasing our communication through Social Media so people can dip in and out as they wish and have started this on Twitter (@PoultonCC) and Instagram (@PoultonCricket) which will also carry fixture/team news in addition to our website (poultoncricketclub.co.uk). We will invest in both our grounds, put the club as a whole on a more secure financial footing as part of a five-year plan. We are also responding to player and parent feedback and continue to improve our coaching offering, (both coaches and equipment) and we hope to resurrect the social aspect of cricket so restricted by this virus. All of this is dependent on the world not testing what happens to naming variants when our scientists run out of Greek letters and for everyone in Poulton, we hope this is a year we can capitalise fully on being lucky enough to play cricket where we do. That early trip up to Englands last week was the most fantastic reminder.