As Farnham Cricket Club enters a new season, it does so as a thriving community club, with three senior sides playing a high standard in the Surrey Championship, and some 150 youngsters, aged from six to 13, in the junior section.
After a successful last two years on the field, with promotions for all three adult sides, a busy close season has seen considerable investment in infrastructure.
With the assistance of the club’s two main sponsors, Hausmaids and FlowerKittle, and with generous donations from the Farnham Institute and Surrey County Council, through councillor Andy Macleod, the club has been able to purchase a boundary rope to meet league requirements and a new mobile batting cage for use by all age groups.
And with new dome covers soon to arrive courtesy of a grant from the ECB, Farnham will have the facilities required to develop good players and to encourage more youngsters to take up cricket.
Club captain Tom Grimes said: “We have achieved success largely by developing our own players through the junior section and that remains a really important part of our philosophy, but we also want to attract the best players moving into the area and to offer an opportunity to other local players who want to test themselves at Surrey Championship level.
“Interestingly, of the 22 players representing the first and second teams this week, nine have played I’Anson cricket.”
Farnham CC is one of the oldest clubs in England, founded in 1782, and has occupied its current home in the Park since 1870. Its vision is to be ‘a club for everyone and a club to be proud of’.
Generations of players have been custodians of the club and its ethos for nearly 250 years and the current incumbents have big plans for the future.
A five-year strategic plan will see continued investment in playing facilities and a push to work with local schools to introduce the game to more children, to teach them not only cricketing skills, but the importance of team-work and respect for officials and the opposition.
Farnham also want to build a new pavilion and will launch a major fund-raising effort over the next two years to realise that ambition. They also wish to build on the current midweek use of the pavilion by the Farnham Montessori School by providing a flexible venue for other local groups.
Club chairman David Godden stresses that Farnham sees itself not just as a cricket club, but a community. “Like many clubs, we are entirely run by volunteers. We couldn’t operate without the parents in the junior section who volunteer to score, umpire, run the barbecue and serve on the Friday evening bar rota. Parents volunteer to manage age group teams, and our senior players have qualified as coaches to run junior training sessions.
“We aspire to be a club which is welcoming to everyone. We each play our part to make the club the special place we like to think it is.”
The next few years promise to be an exciting period for Farnham Cricket Club. The recent crop of good players coming into the top sides – Chris Terry, Toby Davies, Matt Clarke, Will Davies, Nathan Thorpe, Jim Berry, Adam Elstow and others – contrasts with someone like Neil French who only picked up a bat and ball in his late 30s and has since become a vital member of the 3rd XI, as well as torturing batsmen in the nets with his niggling dibbly dobblers.
Wes Taylor, a stalwart of the 2nd XI, joined the club when he moved into the area three years ago, and is delighted that he did. “Not only is it a high standard of cricket, but it is a very welcoming environment for new members.
“My ambition when joining, at 32 years old and after a good few years out of the game, was to test myself at a good level. However, I’ve gained so much more by making some really good friends and enjoying the team spirit this club has in abundance.”
Farnham Park is an attractive place to spend a Saturday afternoon. The matches start at 12 noon and if the weather is good there are amenities for the whole family. The clubhouse sells refreshments, there’s a neighbouring par-3 golf course and a playground to keep kids happy.