February 2015 - Potterne CC

You've only got to take a quick look at the front page of the Potterne CC website to know that this is a club going places. The first thing that leaps from the page is the banner declaring the club as Glos/Wilts champions for 2013. Since winning the WEPL Wiltshire league in 2009 the club have never finished lower than third in Glos/Wilts and then bounced up to Premier 2 in 2014, where they acquitted themselves well finishing in the top 3.

But it's not that singular achievement that makes this front page notable. Read further and this is a club with ambition running through it all levels. Wiltshire Wallop champions for 2014, a comprehensive winter training programme currently in place, details of an MBE for Ed Davies, a Bishop's Cannings CC man, but one of the club's linked partners, girls being selected for county performance training, boys selected at all age groups through to district and county training, pitch mark awards success, OSCA's success and a range of social events in the pipeline for 2015. The club will also be Wiltshire Cricket's disability cricket hub for 2015, highlighting the desire to be involved in wider schemes than just their own.

We all know that the performances of first team sides benchmark a club...but it's the effort of a dedicated, committed and resourceful group of people behind the scenes, who put in the hard yards as volunteers, that really help help to create the kind of success that is reflected by the many stories of achievement on the Potterne CC website.

ClubLife caught up with club vice-chairman Graham Gaiger to find out more, starting with the successful Wiltshire Wallop campaign.

How did you find the experience of competing in the Wiltshire Wallop competition last year and more specifically, finals day, which you went to at Marshfield CC and came away as Wallop champions for 2014?

We love the competition and all the players are really glad we entered it from the start - full credit to Ben White and Marshfield for spotting the ‘gap in the market’. We play our home games on a Friday where we get over 100 people watching which makes for a great atmosphere and the bar does well too. It has proved an ideal way to give players opportunities they don’t always get on a Saturday as availability for midweek games is always trickier and full credit to the guys on finals day - despite having 3 players missing playing for Wiltshire they performed really well. We are already looking forward to this years competition

There's been a lot of discussion recently about restructuring of cricket. How important do you feel this 20 over competition is for providing entertaining, competitive, local cricket? 

Its vital to keep people in the game and for the social side but should never replace the longer games-in our case 50 over and in the case of 1st class cricket the 3,4 and 5 day games.

Jake Roberts was the highest Potterne player in the 6s league. Were there any particular performances from individuals that stood out for you, and will anyone look to target that a bit more this year?! 

Without sounding too parochial my brother Sam batted very well on finals day. Other than that it was a real team effort all round

The club has made tremendous strides in the last decade and now sits proudly in the West of England (WEPL) Premier 2 league. What do you think have been the key factors in enabling that rise? 

A solid structure to the club, some very good young players joining our own youngsters such as Jack Bramwell and Ben Mason from Bishops Cannings CC when they were 15. Jake and Neil Clark are still here but Owen and Tom Alsop have also played for us - Cannings have produced some wonderful youngsters over the years. We have also had a bit of luck, for example Josh and Luke de Souza moved to the area and joined us and have been a real boost. Finally we have been very good at raising funds to improve the ground beyond all measure but also to pay for an overseas professional. These guys obviously play the game very well but are also invaluable in all the coaching work they provide to our juniors. We also have a decent junior set up and our next real challenge within the club is to start to integrate our better juniors into the 1st team as they become ready – Stan Alsop fits that category perfectly

You've produced players for the County team with Neil Clark, Jake Roberts and Ed Young featuring prominently. That must be a big feather in the cap for the club? 

We are delighted and very proud. We have helped Neil and Jake an awful lot over the last 7 or 8 years to develop as players and people but it has to be said that the real hard yards were done by Bishops Cannings where they were juniors - again I cant speak highly enough of the hard work they have put in over the years. Ed Young is a fantastic guy and team man and we are delighted he is playing for Wilts but we cannot take any of the credit for his development as player.

Youth cricket also features highly at Potterne, are there any young players coming through that we need to watch out for this year?

We have lots of boys and girls who represent the District and County.This year I expect Stan Alsop to become a good 1st X1 bowler (he is 16) and there are other juniors knocking on the door such as Oliver Jackson.There are also some very good younger ones who I expect to star for their age groups and also perhaps for our 3rd or 4th XI such as Harry Clarke. We also have some very strong girls and ladies in Hannah Morgan, Alice Eaves and Rosie Pembroke who are all key players for the County.

Great to see young players representing Potterne at different age groups for county and district level. This doesn't happen by chance so what have you done to produce such good results? 

We have done outreach in schools for years and we utilise very good coaches such as Ollie Smith and Alan Crouch as well as having a host of volunteers - we have over 30 qualified coaches at the club.

A quick look at the committee structure of the club does just show how many different people are involved and this is a huge strength. A lot of clubs try to raise money but you seem particularly successful at it as a club - what's your secret? 

We have a core of very generous sponsors who bring in the club around 15k per year. On top of this we run a monthly draw which raises 5k and we run 6-8 small fundraisers a year (quizzes etc) which raise about £500 each. On top of this we do at least one big event each year such as our beer festival and this year we also have The Wurzels playing on Friday 3rd July - tickets can be ordered via our website www.potternecc.org.uk It's a lot of work but a lot of people give up a lot of their time

And finally, here's our Quickfire Questions:

How long have you been in existence? 78 yrs

Describe the club in 3 words? Busy, inclusive and happy

Who were your best batter / bowler / fielder in 2014? Neil Clark, Jake Roberts, Ed Young - 1st X1

What is the proudest club moment to date? Promotion to WEPL Premier 2

Who was your toughest opponent this year? Ilminster

Where were the best teas in the league this year? Cheltenham

Nicest ground you played at this year? Frocester

Which club had the best showers in Division 3? Bishops Cannings ie where Potterne CC 3s & 4s play.

And finally...if you could sign any player in world cricket for 2015 who would you get? AB de Villiers

Many thanks to Graham Gaiger and Potterne CC for giving us a behind the scenes tour. Cricket clubs all over the country can often struggle for a lack of support off the field in the many jobs, roles and tasks that are required to keep the club ticking over, and recruiting people to help with these can often be difficult. This is probably the most impressive aspect of Potterne's growth - the ability to involve so many people in the journey and make the club a real focus point in the local community.