First written around Christmas 2010

The word bureaucracy can kill any thoughts of fun and enjoyment. Yet without rules, a Casuals cricket team could not have taken the field every Sunday for the last 50 and more years. The founders had a small number of things to achieve: find people who wanted to play, persuade them to part with money to cover hire of grounds and purchase of kit, arrange nets, elect captains and help them ensure that everyone had an equal chance to play when more than eleven were available or get the maximum number to turn out when they were short.

Whilst many of the older members cannot recollect it as such, the early Casuals created a bureaucracy with a life of its own. They kept impeccable, mostly typed minutes with some, but not many, glimpses of the casuals’ social scene and culture. Tidy and workmanlike, an efficient office maybe, with scant clues as to the contributors or the writer. A bit like cricket statistics. A record of what took place. Not to be disputed, assuming the diligent secretary took notes and prepared a prompt final copy, helped by recent memory, rather than being left to lie fallow until the night before the next committee meeting, some six months hence.

It is striking that the first years of minutes devote a lot of space to who is invited, who wants to be a member, who is resigning, honorary members and patrons, who is standing down as a captain or committee member and who is being elected. The impression is of an exclusive gentleman’s club.

minute heavenThe minutes are not uniform and vary according to the officers of the committee: paper size and quality, length, amount of underlining, colour, formality of language and even the venue. Letterheads appeared during Jim Netherwood’s tenure (Netherwood and … printers). Woodsome and the Hockey Club were places to meet when Michael Hallas was around. Well, he did have an apartment at Woodsome and he was known as Mr Hockey. Jack Taylor used green ink.

Andy Shires takes the prize for the briefest minutes. Not one word is wasted. His records for 1 March, 1972 amount to seven sentences.

During the Netherwood/Shires period, roughly 1970 to 1978, members who had not paid their subscriptions were named at the end of the accounts.

From 1975, when Gordon Littlewood was secretary, whilst sticking to a recognisable agenda, the minutes became less formal and more irreverent.

T Raper wrote the minutes in long hand and recorded all of the votes cast in favour of or against any decisions.

Again, whilst staying with an agenda and faithfully recording all the decisions, both Greg Smith and Bill Crossland have introduced a comic literary flavour to the minutes. Some might say verging on the sarcastic.

Most officers stayed in post up to five years. There are four with longer service. Greg scribed as secretary for 13 years. David Pedley took the chair for 17 years, the same period that Jack Wade survived as fixture secretary. Paul Wood however deserved a testimonial match for 25 years, in two stints as Treasurer.

The minutes can be a dry dusty account of what took place and may not do justice to the characters who worked so hard to get the Casuals up and running. The sight, sounds and smells must come from other sources, like Cricket in Perspective 1 & 2 and the personal accounts of those who were there. For example, Tim Beaumont is disarmingly honest in his approach to the Casuals, ‘Welcoming of anyone with an interest in cricket. Dropping – or at least not inviting those, who on closer acquaintance, did not contribute to the ethos of the club.’ He recalls the committee ‘minutes bore little or no resemblance to any [thing said by those] in attendance, with the exception of the Treasurer who ruled with an iron hand’ (mostly Paul Wood and David Pedley). The most noteable achievement of Richard Ellis (Treasurer from 1991), in Tim’s opinion, was to arrange Woodsome for the Annual Dinner.

Having attended a few committee meetings, I can confirm that, at times, like some of the cricket we play, they can be shambolic, and it takes a firm chairman to get back on track. I can’t imagine it would be any different in the 1950s and 60s. Someone somewhere kept the club on course.committeeofficers                                     Officers of the committee

Now 2013

Given the end of the Casuals as we know them, there is no longer any bureaucracy. Anyone who wants to hang on to the old ways needs to rethink quickly. With the vestiges of the old ways, two fixtures were cancelled. We now move on to a team that does not rely on Casuals members, though any putting their name forward will be welcome. Despite the apparent easy going Casuals approach, I suspect those who did things, did them well. We need a few of those guys.


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