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Club Cricket Conference
The Club Cricket Conference (known until 1926 as the London Club Cricket Conference) was established in 1915 to represent and support the interests of amateur cricket clubs in the South of England. Old Etonian Sir Home Gordon, the cricket writer and journalist, was elected the first president of the Conference and C.B. Fry (England, Sussex and Hampshire) and Ted Dillon (Kent) were invited to join the inaugural committee.
Charles Green, who is regarded as the ‘founding father’ and was the spirit of Essex cricket during the late 19th/early 20th centuries (serving as captain, chairman and president), was also invited to become a member of the first CCC committee. Having served as president of the MCC in 1905, Green’s acumen, vision and energy in developing and elevating Essex CCC to first-class county status in 1894 were obvious qualities sought by the Conference whose first AGM was held in March 1916.
Since 1920, the emergency Fixture Bureau of the CCC has acted as a marriage broker to amateur clubs in the South of England who seek fixtures, mostly on Saturdays and Sundays. It arranges around 3,500 fixtures each year. In more recent times it has extended its fixture arranging service to include the search for, and availability of, cricket grounds. For a modest annual membership subscription and a nominal fee for each match arranged, many Essex clubs have taken advantage of these services over the years. It is administered online with operational ease and efficiency and Belhus CC has used the fixture service on numerous occasions.
What is not perhaps widely appreciated is that the Conference operates a general Advisory Service for member clubs. Over the years, it has accumulated much knowledge and experience of the management, organisation and administration of clubs, and has access to a wealth of information and individual experts in every aspect of the day-to-day running of an amateur club. Clubs that have concerns regarding, for example, their constitution, their ground lease, their budgeting/accounts systems, their insurances, their coaching programmes or their organisational structures, can obtain valuable, practical advice and assistance from the CCC.
The Conference is committed to the well-being, growth and development of all clubs and schools in England and Wales, and may be contacted at any time on any issue whatsoever. If the Conference is unable to provide an immediate solution, perhaps to a particularly complex matter, they will certainly know, through their extensive network, 'someone who can'.
Representative Matches and Tours
In addition to organising various competitions, CCC ‘representative’ matches have been arranged since 1922 whereby those selected can expect to play against pre-eminent club cricketers. The representative teams include the Men’s and Women’s XIs, the Under 21s and the President’s XI. It is for member clubs to recommend/nominate playing candidates who must obviously be of the highest calibre. With so many quality players to choose from, selection is highly competitive. Fixtures include the MCC (at Lord’s), the Midlands Club Cricket Conference, the touring ICC Associate and the League Cricket Conference. It also organises two annual competitions - the Conference Cup and the Sovereign Trophy.
Players who have demonstrated a high level of skill and displayed good sportsmanship and common courtesy through observing the 'Spirit of Cricket', become eligible for selection for the Conference’s annual overseas tour. The first CCC tour was to Australia in 1971, since when visits have been arranged to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, the Netherlands, Kenya, West Indies, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark and Oman. Players from a number of Essex clubs have been selected over the years, and have enjoyed well-organised tours against high standard opposition in very different and challenging conditions. Such experience has greatly benefited their cricket development.
CCC Caps for Essex Players
Prior to 1948, caps were automatically awarded to all players who were selected to play for the Conference in a full representative match for the first time. Thereafter, caps were awarded at the Council's discretion although from the mid-1970s, caps were awarded mainly to those who represented the CCC on a major overseas tour. Nowadays, caps are awarded to those who have played in 25 representative or tour matches. Essex players who have been awarded CCC caps since 1948 are:
G R Pullinger (Aveley CC* 1949) G H West (Southend-on-Sea CC**1949) R A Byrne (South Woodford CC 1951) L C S Jerman (Essex Wanderers CC* 1953) L H R Ralph (Ilford CC 1954) R V Lynch (Ilford CC 1957) R J Jessop (Chingford CC 1959) P Whitcombe (Brentwood CC 1960) E Palmer (Gidea Park & Romford CC 1961) D Sayers (Walthamstow CC 1963) J B Barr (Ilford CC 1965) R J Richards (Westcliff-on-Sea CC 1970) E P Higginson (Hadleigh & Thundersley CC 1971) M Bottomley (Buckhurst Hill CC 1975) N Leat (Walthamstow CC 1975) D Goldsmith (Gidea Park & Romford CC 1981) R Andrews (Wanstead CC 1982) S Poulter (Fives and Heronians CC 1986) M Webber (Woodford Wells CC 1986) K Thomas (Ilford CC 1991) A Churchill (Gidea Park & Romford CC) 1994) R Collard (Gidea Park & Romford CC 1994) A Richards (Wanstead CC 1999) J Sparrow (Saffron Walden CC 1999) R Sparrow (Saffron Walden CC 2002) M Hussain (Fives and Heronians CC 2002) R Alston (Chingford CC 2004) P B C James (Loughton CC) 2006) J Holland (Saffron Walden CC 2007) R Smith (Ardleigh Green CC 2007) J Walford (Brentwood CC 2007) M Chowdury (Hainault & Clayhall CC**** 2018).
* Club no longer exists. ** Now Southend-on-Sea & EMT. ***Now Wanstead & Snaresbrook CC. **** now Frenford CC.
Essex Men as Presidents of CCC
A number of Essex worthies have been honoured to serve the CCC in the capacity of President, a post that is bestowed only upon those who have made a significant contribution to their clubs and, usually, to the wider cricket community at district and/or county level. Due consideration is paid to men of acknowledged integrity and who uphold the ‘Spirit of Cricket’. Essex men who have been so recognised and deserving of such high office have been:
J H Douglas (Wanstead CC 1920) T G Grinter (Frinton-on-Sea CC 1930) A F Butt (Leigh-on-Sea CC 1941-1945) G F Clatworthy (Ilford CC 1949) A R Duff (Buckhurst Hill CC 1955) D J Kesby (Old Parkonians CC* 1972) A L Speakman (West Essex CC 1973) R H Williams (Walthamstow CC 1977) J S Polson (Ilford CC 1986) R V Lynch (Chingford CC 1991) M L Chapman (Westcliff-on-Sea CC 1994) E C Poulter (Fives and Heronians CC 1999) D J Goldsmith (Gidea Park & Romford CC 2003)
* Now Oakfield Parkonians CC
The Conference is proud that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has been its Patron since 1953 (his interest in the game emanating from his days at Gordonstoun where he was captain and secretary of the school’s cricket club). The Duke is the only person to have served as President of the MCC on two occasions - in 1949 and 1974. And for many years, the CCC has been organising a hugely popular annual lunch at Lord's that is attended by around 700 people from member clubs who are entertained by well-known guest speakers. In 2015, the Conference's centenary year, Prince Phillip was guest of honour and Sir Tim Rice was the guest speaker.
Duke of Edinburgh at Arundel 1953
The Club Cricket Conference boasts a membership of more than 1,000 clubs and enjoys an active working relationship with the England and Wales Cricket Board. It is recognised worldwide as a cricketing institution that helps amateur clubs in a myriad of ways and continues to support, promote and represent their interests in every corner of our cricketing, sporting and social arenas. It really is a dedicated and worthwhile organisation and Belhus CC and all clubs in Essex are indebted to its cause.
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To keep abreast of CCC activities, do make sure that you get a copy of the Conference's Annual Handbook. It is essential reading for club players who want to keep informed of developments in the world of club cricket.