President’s Welcome and Report
Before we begin the review of the season and discuss our future plans, I would like start with the event that overshadowed the entire season, namely the very sad and untimely death of our head groundsman, former professional, and GWC coach, Willie Morton.
Willie had an outstanding career for Scotland, representing his country on 16 occasions, which would have been more, but of course he spent 3 successful years with Warwickshire at the peak of his career. He joined us as our professional in 1987 and, during the next 6 years, took 277 wickets at the truly astonishing average of 16.7. He also scored almost 3,500 runs at an average just shy of 30, which was more than a useful contribution.
After retiring from the game, Willie remained our head groundsman for 30 years, producing wickets for representative matches, but equally as importantly, he prepared wickets and rugby pitches week in week out for the school and the clubs. Whilst I would not go so far as to say that Willie always had a smile on his face when asked to produce wickets at ridiculously short notice, he never let us down.
Willie was also a hugely effective coach, latterly at the school. The boys under his charge all responded to his simple, direct, and hugely authoritative coaching.
Given Willie’s enormous contribution to the club, the committee wished to mark Willie’s passing in a fitting way and so we have decided upon the following:
- · Firstly, as a permanent memorial, we will present to Cricket Scotland a trophy to be named after Willie to be presented to the man of the match at the end of season game between the winners of the Western Union and the Eastern Premiership. Given that Willie commenced his career in the West with Stirling County, a trophy which will be for the whole of Scotland, seems appropriate.
- · Secondly, along with the school, we will organise a 6 a side tournament at Myreside to be played in late April as a curtain raiser for the new season.
Willie was a great servant of the club and will be sorely missed.
Mike will give you his run-down on the performance of the 1st XI during 2019. Before I discuss the performance of the other senior men’s sides, I would like to record my own thanks for the hard work and input of Andrew Hislop (or Shaka) over the years. Andy played every Premiership match last season and was a hugely infectious character around the club. We wish him well both for his impending marriage, but also for the final phase of his career as he rejoins his former club, Clydesdale, in Glasgow.
For the other three senior men’s sides, it was a pretty disappointing season on the field. In the league, the 2nds won 3 out of 13 matches and the 3rds and 4ths won only won each. It is fair to say that all three sides were on the wrong end of a few very close matches, which if they had swung our way, would have resulted in a better league position. However, all three were relegated at the end of the season.
However, there were some notable performances for the 2nds which augur well for the future:
- Fraser Sands averaged over 45 and would have scored more if he had not sustained a nasty hand injury which kept him out of a number of matches;
- Alexander Abbey, who was still in his 3rd year at GWC, took 19 wickets at an average of 15, showing great promise;
- Gregour Carr took 8 wickets at 11.7, including a 5 wicket haul against Gala, to earn him promotion to the 1sts; and
- Skipper Kenny Rae had a solid season with the bat and took 5 wickets for 5 runs in one spell, when he finally brought himself on to bowl!
The 3s also had a number of close matches and whilst the bowling was generally up to standard, the batting suffered form a lack of consistency, with only Geoff Mawdsley turning in regular high scores.
However, we continued to blood many youngsters in these three teams, particularly the 3rds and 4ths and over 120 individual players turned out for the four teams, demonstrating that the club is highly successful from a participatory and recreational aspect.
Looking forward, the club’s biggest challenge is player recruitment and retention. We have the great advantage of a continuous stream of talent from the school and the hard work of Mike, Rob, Julian and the other members of the junior committee are hugely appreciated in assisting to introduce the youngsters to the club. However, we do experience a significant attrition of our younger members when they leave school. I do understand that other clubs experience similar problems, which is compounded in our case by the propensity of GWC pupils to move away from Edinburgh to study and/or work.
To arrest and reverse this trend, the committee is currently considering the appointment of a full time Director of Cricket to professionalise our coaching and selection and we are reviewing potential candidates. A more organised and professional training regime should also help to attract senior players to the club.
In addition, we are organising recent school leavers into peer groups with a leader appointed to each both to drum up enthusiasm within the group but also to be a spokesperson for the group to ensure that its views and interests are heard.
The club has been very active socially this season and great credit must be given to Andrew Chalmers for organising many of the events. Given Andrew’s commitments to Super 6 rugby currently, it is intended that the baton is passed to Chris Bowness.
Finally, I would like to thank all the members of the committee, and other volunteers, for their hard work throughout the year, without which the club would simply not function. On behalf of the club, many thanks for all your efforts.