Retiring chairman Denis Emery's report reads as follows -
Finch Group, the local Commercial Insurance Company, continued to sponsor the HCL for £3000 last year, the second of three years. Finch Group already insure 80+ of our Clubs and I thank them for their continued support.
This past year has been another testing one for the Committee and our clubs, the second season affected by COVID 19. The weather was indifferent at the start of the 2021 season. We lost fewer clubs over the year and have 10 new entrants for 2022.
I must congratulate the champions as I know it involved great effort to win a league over many games. We congratulate Havant II and Sway on their promotion to the Southern Premier League (SPCL). We welcome Hythe & Dibden and Tichborne Park to HCL Division 1, teams I am sure that will want to return quickly to SPCL.
The Women’s Hampshire League continues to grow, and we have now over 20 teams divided into three divisions. This coming season we continue with our Development League Division 3, which proved successful last year. We are also providing a few T20s in readiness for the 2022, as again there will be no County Women’s team.
The two presentation evenings returning to the Ageas Bowl were well attended and enjoyed by all. I must remind clubs that the Committee expects their members to behave themselves at these presentations, which was not the case for some clubs during the first evening. We have to thank our Secretary Anne Carter, with help from our Treasurer Clare Taylor for the superb arrangements. Mike Vimpany again did a brilliant job as MC at the first presentation evening, it being his last for the HCL after some 30 years behind the ‘mic’, and Paul Turner at the second.
Due to the difficulties of COVID reducing players’ availability we have not brought back the three strikes and out rule, waiting for another year before looking at it again. Teams cancelling will still be punished as normal. The Committee were sympathetic to pleas from clubs affected by COVID and quite rightly allowed games to be cancelled. We as a Committee listen to clubs and are always happy to put any proposals to the AGM.
Andy Stevenson has once more done his best to keep travel to a minimum in leagues 3-6. I believe he has done a brilliant job with reducing travelling throughout the lower divisions. We are always going to have problems with the size of our county as some of our clubs will always be out on a limb. On request, we have also provided teams with the HCL concessionary code for trips to the Isle of Wight. I believe it is 20% cheaper.
A special mention must also go to our Fixture Secretary, Stewart Frazier, who in conjunction with Andy gets the format and fixtures out before the year end, and from far away finds solutions to ground unavailability.
I would like to thank all the Committee again for their hard work throughout the year. They spend many voluntary hours, running the Hampshire League. The Rules & Discipline Sub Committee chaired by Paul Turner had a few discipline cases to manage last season. The Vice Chairman Philip Wilson kept the web site ticking along in the absence of a media person, and he was instrumental in getting Play Cricket up and running last season. Play Cricket has been a great success with all our clubs able to use the system, and made the reporting of results much easier and convenient for all. Clare Taylor and Mark Heritage collated the important Club Ground marks, which are a priority in promotions and relegations. Neil Campone had the complex job of compiling the averages.
Our Grounds Sub Committee chaired by Martin Livermore worked tirelessly all season to ensure the standard of our pitches did not fall. Clubs have to be responsible in marking the grounds as we cannot get around hundreds of matches each week to see if pitches and facilities are acceptable. We have used some of our income for free handbooks and try and help club umpires to attend courses.
I would like to thank our Vice Chairman Philip Wilson who has worked hard for the HCL for the past 14 years and, like me, is bowing out after the AGM. He has been a rock we could all rely on for any problems, whether administrative, web site or discipline related.
I became Chairman of HCL in 2016 with some ideas to help move the League forward, and to pass on my experience of over 50 years playing and officiating at local cricket. I have achieved what I set out to do, and hope that HCL carries on the initiatives going forward. I have enjoyed my time, even though on occasions we have experienced difficulties trying to ensure HCL ran smoothly, with outside influences, ground shortages and the decline in the sport. COVID has also caused real problems over the past two years, but I salute our clubs and our committee in the way they have dealt with this adversity, now we are coming out of the other side.
As the worst is now over, I have decided to stand down and let someone younger hold the reins. I know you will give the new Chairman the same support that you gave me. I thank you for letting me be Chairman, it was an honour to serve the HCL. I will still be around appointing umpires and you may see me officiating occasionally at your game. As a player and as a Committee Member, the Hampshire Cricket League will always feature in my memories.