Good evening and thank you all for coming along.
I am delighted to have completed my second year as Chairman and look forward to my third and final year in this role.
The last year has not flown by as quickly as my first year as the challenges have been greater on and off the field but fortunately I am still enjoying myself.
Amersham & Chiltern is a fantastic club and I feel as though we have maintained our core philosophy to makes sure we are a fully inclusive, community sports club and should always have this at the centre of what we do. My goal last year was to have more family participation and more ladies activities and hope this has improved and my goal for this year is to get more volunteers and participation with events from all parts of the club.
We were starting the new season with a minor change in the coaching structure but still had the same group of predominantly home grown players who now having a season of first team rugby under their belts. We set ourselves a target of pushing for promotion as well as making sure we play as many home grown players as possible for every game.
The Executive have continued their hard work to make sure that we are a club that doesn’t just focus on the 1XV, but we look at all age groups and value the input everyone has throughout the club and their contributes. This work has been guided and reinforced by the new Trustee’s led by the Chairman Dave Crimp. The role of the Trustee’s has been really important this year in making sure the Executive Committee stay on track with their goals whilst also having their invaluable input with the struggles we have has financially this year.
Having spoken to a lot of people across all sections of the club, there seems to be a misconception that we have a vast surplus of funds. I’m afraid this is not the case and this year has been particularly challenging due to a number of reasons. We have had a big decline in sponsorship money, the clubhouse hired declined in the first three months of the season and the main income events such as the Sportsman’s Dinner, Fireworks and Summer Ball were not supported as well as recent years. I cannot stress enough that without the support of our membership at these events, the club will struggle financially.
We are a community club that relies on volunteers and over the recent years the essence of how a rugby club is run seems to have left Amersham & Chiltern. We need to get back to having people volunteer for events, roles and tasks and not having the same 12 people always doing this. So I challenge each and every member of this club to volunteer once this season for something as this will make a huge difference.
The Mini and Junior sections continue to be the heartbeat of this club and we must not forget how important they are to us not only for producing future senior rugby players, but financially and culturally and we thank them for all their support.
When looking at the contribution of everyone at the beginning of last season, it has been highlighted that still not all Senior players are paying their membership and this is something they need to take ownership of as this is not acceptable. We also discovered that a large percentage of people were cancelling their direct debit after the season had finished and didn’t continue to pay their membership over 12 months. As this has now happened for a couple of seasons, we have decided to change the direct debits and take them over 8 months
There has had a lot of investment go into the club again over the last 12 months in particular the AstroTurf and kitchen but one of the biggest costs to the club still is repairing damage caused on Saturdays and Sundays. It is still one of the biggest frustrations for the Executive seeing people mistreat the club. We are taught the TREADS in rugby when on the pitch, but this has to continue off the pitch as well. We are a great club with fantastic people and we need to have respect for our clubhouse and facilities as we are very privileged to have them.
If we are to continue offering some of the best rugby facilities in Bucks we need to continuously improve them and over this coming season we will be looking at one capital project. This project is to improve the gym facilities to allow not only players, but members to have the necessary equipment to train should they wish to.
Again, as like the previous season there has been a great atmosphere at the club this season and we have maintained a healthy attendance to all of the home games and pre-season has kicked off with some good numbers.
Now onto the on the pitch…..
Firstly, I would like to a massive thank you to everyone involved in the Mini and Junior side of the club and this is down to the hard work and effort of all age group coaches, AGO’s, Matt Allen, Dave Choules and Dave Neale. I am pleased to say that the Coaches Workshop, ran by Dave Neale and Matt Allen, was continued throughout the year to improve the skills of our coaches and we were delighted to see three of the sports masters from the Misbourne school attend as well. As this is a huge success we will continue to run this monthly session, so we can develop and raise the standard of coaching coaches at all levels. I would also like to set a standard for our club and have each age group Head Coach hold their RFU Level 2 coaching badge and will be something we will implement this coming season.
We have again had a change of personnel in the Mini’s section with Ian Shaw taking over from Duncan Yarroll as Mini’s Chairman. We had a fantastic turn out every week from all age groups and the last year’s Mini’s Festival was a huge success and as was both Development Festivals.
In the Juniors, we also have a change of personnel with Duncan Yarroll taking over from Hugh Griffiths as Junior Chairman. I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to Hugh for all he has done whilst being Junior Chairman. He could not of asked for a better send off than for a second consecutive year clean sweep of the U14’s, U15’s and U16’s Bucks Cup Winners. Hugh has also set the standard for Duncan to maintain the success of the Junior Awards which has turned out to be one of the events of the year.
The 4XV season was very challenging and they only managed a handful of games. This coming season will see a change of approach with no league system and playing every week, but having a friendly once a month with local teams. We will still maintain our ethos of introducing the Colts to Senior Rugby with the experience of the Vets players.
Our 3rd XV captained by Doug Smith had a tough league season due to injuries throughout other teams and having to calling on 100 different players but finished with a fantastic win to retained the Merit Table 3 Plate and a successful tour to St Austell.
Our 2nd XV season is probably one to forget due to so many injuries and finishing towards the bottom of their league. However, the coming season sees some changes in their league which will hopefully see them back on the winning trail again.
Our 1st XV had a solid season finishing 7th in London 1 North thanks to Dave Neale, Matt Heaks and Lee Goodall doing a fantastic job with the support of Hugh Thomas and Dave Choules. A big well done to our first 1XV Captain, Ryan Cole, steered the ship on the pitch and winning one of the most exciting Bucks Cups Finals I’ve seen in a long while, for a second successive year. This season we had over 50 people play first team rugby and this shows the depth we are now getting in our club and something to build on for the future. We also welcome our new forwards coach Rich Hoskins and say thanks to Matt Heaks and Lee Goodall for their time at A&C.
Finally, I’d like to say big thank you from me to the Executive Committee for all their hard work, to our President Peter Kenyon for his continued support and a special thank you to the Trustee who have fully embraced their roles as guardians of the club and have done such an amazing job this season.