A Valediction

By San Gore

“The time has come”, I said, unstrapping my pads in the pavilion after a streaky innings on the Devon tour. Jamie stood there, unbelieving. But I knew. Every cricketer knows, although too many continue in the hope it is just a lack of form and that a hundred (or even a fifty) is around the next corner. The love of the game, the banter in the dressing room, the camaraderie on the field, all contribute to delaying the inevitable decision to hang up one’s boots.

At the age of 71 and with failing eyesight, niggling injuries, and slowing reactions it was increasingly becoming an unequal contest against twenty-somethings all too eager to whistle a ball past my ears! Too often the ball was through me before I worked out the line and length. So, there we have it. Despite the protestations of my team-mates, and even a hurried motion by the Committee on tour to refuse to accept the decision, I remain firm.

I joined Kensington in 1993 after running Ground Hogs, another wandering club, for 17 years until they disbanded. It was a natural switch and I was happy to be part of this friendly social club without the headaches of having to organise. But KCC were going through a small crisis at the time and Sunil persuaded me to take on the fixture secretary role. So much so for the quiet life! But cricket was in my blood and soon I was very much involved in all things administrative – from drafting a constitution, setting up and maintaining the cricket statistics, publishing the Yearbook, to looking after the finances – all helping to develop the club into the brand that we now know.

I was not alone in this endeavour. The ‘founding father’ Sunil was the visionary and Neeraj’s media-savviness, Chris’ wise counsel and my organisational skills turned the dreams into reality. Sunil’s numerous contacts helped to get sponsors. From humble beginnings playing ‘park’ cricket we hoisted the banner of social, but serious friendly cricket.  No joining leagues for us; we play to enjoy the game and have fun without having to commit every weekend. The quality of our fixtures and our playing strength grew. We attracted many cricketers – from schools, the Antipodes, other clubs and friends of members – all sharing our passion and love of the game. There is a loyalty to the club that few can match. They never really leave; even though life and work may pull some away to far-flung countries, or to raise families, invariably they return or follow our fortunes from afar. We must be doing something right!

Looking back, I am immensely proud to have been with KCC for the 25 seasons that I have been a playing member. I leave the field in the sure knowledge that the club is in good health and in capable hands. Although the boots are off, my coloured pens are poised and ready to continue recording the runs, wickets and catches as I follow every success (and collapse) from the scorebox. I too remain a loyal member.