2001 Review

2001 was a crucial year for Rayleigh; after all three league teams were relegated in 2000, we needed to stop the slide. The loss of many senior players over the previous years meant that it would be a time of rebuilding and rethinking, a revised selection policy was brought in and new team captains were elected. Andy Thurogood took over the First XI, Brad Walker returned to the helm of the Seconds, whilst the new-look Thirds was overseen by Phil Stoney and Steve Adams in an experiment to develop the colts through league cricket. With Simon Harwood as Sunday XI 'Manager', Darren Smith in charge of the Fourths and a brand new RCC Website, we were all set for the season...


Two things that Spring 2001 will be remembered for - rain and Foot & Mouth disease. Seemingly endless wet weather during the Winter had left most cricket grounds saturated and Rawreth Lane was no exception - the outfield was like a marsh and the grass long and uncut. The Foot & Mouth epedemic also threatened Third XI fixtures as Ashingdon Rec was closed to the public. Amazingly, the Seconds played a pre-season friendly at Shoebury Park, bowling Old Southendians out for 48 and winning by 8 wickets.

It was a different story at the start of the league campaign - the Seconds were thrashed at Hockley as the opposition put half their First team out. The Firsts, Thirds and Sundays' fixtures were all cancelled with no play possible at Rawreth Lane. The next weeekend, things were back to normal - the First failed to win any matches in the rest of May, as did the Thirds, whilst the Seconds won four in a row, partly thanks to the welcome return of Terry Tofts, who was picking up wickets at will. The Fouths and Sundays only managed to get one game in each; overall a disappointing start to the season.


Player of the Month: Terry Tofts (14 wickets)


June was even worse - the Seconds promising start to the season was undone as they slumped to four straight defeats, the worst of which was a 168-run thrashing by Little Baddow. To make matters worse, Mark Merchant broke a finger against Great Baddow after scoring the Seconds' first 50 of the season; he was not to play a match for the rest of the season. The First failed to win again in June, that was until a crucial clash with fellow strugglers, Rankins. The match will live in Rayleigh legend, as defending a below-par 173, we wrapped up the last eight wickets for 18 runs thanks to the huge efforts of Tim Rees and Jon Cook, who bowled the last over with the opposition needing just 4 to win, taking the final wicket to give Rayleigh a 2-run win.
Meanwhile, in Division 10, the Thirds were finding it tough going. They picked up their first win against Canvey Island as Steve Adams and Danny White put on a record 173 runs for the third wicket. Steve went on to score 109 and Danny his first senior half-century with 68. The massive 254 for 9 was too much for Canvey, and Rayleigh won by 68 runs.

Sunday cricket had been a bit patchy, with many cancelled matches and those matches played ending in defeat. The highlight was at Old Westcliffians, where we battled out for a draw as Pete Starling and Gary Buick held on with an undefeated 78 run partnership for the 8th wickets, Pete smashing his way to 67 not out.

The Fourths only played two fixtures, losing both, but they saw the return of two Rayleigh ex-regulars, Colin 'Bambi' Sheehan and David James, who picked up 5 for 7 against Eastwood IV's.

Off the field, Simon 'Happy Shopper' Harwood got married to Vanessa in Leigh-on-Sea, followed by a reception at Chalkwell Park, with many Rayleigh faces, past and present, making an appearance.

Player of the Month: Steve Adams (226 runs)


OzzyThe poor run of form for the Firsts continued throughout July. We were bowling and fielding superbly - the regular Rayleigh attack of Rees, Law, Cook and Ewing was working well, but the batting was letting us down. We just weren't posting scores that gave us much to bowl at; by the end of July we still had yet to pass the 200-run mark. We scored one victory, at home against Boreham, where after Rayleigh scoring a lowly 156, Tim Rees and Jamie Ewing picked up four wickets each and bowled the opposition out for just 115. With two wins out of thirteen, things were looking bleak going into the final month.
The Seconds ended their losing streak, contraversially at home against Hockley, where a last wicket partnership between Tony Lambert and Rob Osborne of 40 gave Rayleigh a one-wicket win. Hockley were not happy - Tony had injured his leg during the game and had gone out with a runner, and whilst hobbling back to square leg after scoring a single, was claimed to have been run out by the fielders. After heated arguments, Tony was given not out and Ossie proceeded to smash the bowling to the boundary to give us victory. That win was followed up by an easy win against Boreham, with Toftsie and Tony Lambert bowling the opposition out for just 77.

July was a great month for the Thirds, with three successive wins, the most noteable of which was a 119 run victory against Springfield. Geoff Roberts (79) and Steve Adams (46) lead the way to posting 221, and then Mark Cane followed up with 4 for 28, keeping Springfield down to 102 for 9. The Fourths chalked up a win against Liberty Casuals, sneaking home by 2 runs after scoring only 115, Jim Repper wrapping things up with 3 for 1.

Another welcome addition to the Club in July was the new outdoor nets - many an hour of fun was spent getting the frame up and even harder was getting the net on it.

The Sundays' season also started pick up - the first win came against New Calypsonians, followed by another at Hockley with admittedly our strongest side of the season, and showed just how Sunday cricket could be with a competetive team. Chris 'Tex' Eldridge (70) and John 'Snapper' Suckling (52) put on 107 for the first wicket on the way to 191 for 7. Tim Rees then steamed in and took 4 for 20, and despite some nervous moments (Murray Hall's 33 off 2 overs will live in the memory for a long time), we finished them off with 8 runs to spare, Tim sending their No. 11's off stump cartwheeling in spectacular fashion in the last over. The following week Danbury hit us for 100 in the first 10 overs, but Tony Catling bounced back with 6 for 57, almost taking the Bowling Cup for the second year in succession at the same ground.

On Sunday 29th July, a small Rayleigh contingent took part in the Sportisan 6-a-side tournament at The Oval. Taking the field at 10am on a scorching hot day, we had a fantastic day of cricket, drinking, eating and soaking up the whole Oval experience. We didn't even come close to winning the tournament, but we had a great day out and even won over a few fans.


Player of the Month : Tony Catling (15 wickets)


With relegation staring them in the face, the First XI's fortunes improved in August. First came the (to be) crucial win over Oldchurch. With Shopper scoring his first First XI fifty, Oldchurch chased 180 in the increasingly steady rain. With much time-wasting as possible from the batsmen, we kept them out long enough to get the win, this time with Mike Law turning on the style, taking 4 for 24. After then losing to Hockley, Roxwell were beaten away by 11 runs with an improvised batting line-up with many players getting lost or caught up in the V2001 traffic jams. For a second time, the match was completed with 5 minutes to spare before the heavens opened. The pinnacle of the season was reached the following week against bottom of the table Rankins. Steve Adams and Tony Catling destroyed the Rankins bowling, putting on 154 in the last 10 overs, to score an unbeatable 295 for 4. Only top-of-the-table Herongate stood in the way of a second season in Division 3.
The Seconds' league season limped home with two defeats and two abandonments. The match against Little Baddow saw the return of old Rayleigh legend 'Steady' Eddie Hardwicke after an absence on 10 years, in wich he scored 46 not out. The local derby against Fairview was notable for Colin Sheehan's 48, an incredible 5 for 18 from Brad Walker, and an unbearably long match on one of the hottest days of the year.
Under-15s Danny White scored a personal best against Brookweald with an immpressive 82 not out, followed up by 43 against Writtle in a 112-run win to ensure that the Thirds maintained mid-table respectability. The Fourths earned a win at Brentwood with Mike 'Unigate' Humphrey and Pete 'Uncle Joe' Starling taking four wickets apeice. The Sundays played a couple of matches, losing both, the highlight of which was John Suckling scoring 79 not out against Dunmow. The annual match at Witham made a return this year - we lost as usual, but we had the traditional 'good day out' and caught up with a few old friends. Also, the midweek match at Leigh-on-Sea was continued, which reportedly was a good match followed by an equally good Ruby.

This years' Presidents day was a great success despite a damp start, taking the form of an 8-a-side tournament and an RCC Ladies v Colts match. The usual sideshows were there too - Bouncy Castle, Sumo Wrestling, Beat-the-Batsman and a transvestite Darren Smith. Martin's Marauders won a hard fought President's Trophy, sadly President John Monk was not well enough to attend, but the good news was that he was starting to make a recovery.


Player of the Month : Paul Dudmish (239 runs)


The Firsts' whole season boiled down to whether they could beat already promoted Herongate in their final match. The best possible Rayleigh XI was put out, but failed - the cream of Rayleigh batting was dismissed for only 127, and we were relegated. Or so we thought. As the final results came in, Oldchurch had not forfilled their last fixture and so were fined 20 points. This left them 5 points ahead of Rayleigh, but the following week it was announced that they had also failed to return a match card a were fined a further 10 points, putting them in 9th place and Rayleigh out of the relegation zone. Post-season friendlies against Dunmow and Stock were noteable for belated fifties from Jon Cook and Willie Leadbeater.
The Seconds' end of season was a mixed affair; they lost the final league match and finished 7th, 25 points clear of relegation. Friendlies at Writtle and Eastwood were won, with Terry Tofts (77) and John Suckling (72*) piling up 122 for the first wicket at Wittle and newcomer Colin Unwin scoring 50 at Eastwood. They earned a draw at Divison 3 Champions Herongate and in the final fixture against East Hanningfield Rayleigh were bowled out for a dismal 34.

The Thirds finshed their season with a 30-run loss at Chignal, but finished a very creditable 6th in Division 10, scoring more points than both the First & Seconds. The Sundays lost away at Herongate and Margaretting, with John Suckling scoring fifties in both matches, followed by a depressing afternoon at Upminster where they batted for 55 overs and only managed 131 all out, losing by the usual 6 wickets.


Player of the Month : John Suckling (315 runs)

The Results
Pld Won Drawn Lost N/R
First XI 19 6 0 11 2
Second XI 23 9 1 11 2
Third XI 17 6 0 11 0
Fourth XI 8 3 1 4 0
Sunday XI 15 2 2 11 0
Other Matches 2 0 0 2 0
Total 84 26 4 50 4
RCC Web Awards
Tin of Dulux for Dullest Innings : Eddie Hardwicke for 2 off 44 balls, Seconds v Bluehouse II
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie for Worst Bowling Figures : Paul Davies for 0 for 43 in 3 overs, Firsts v Stock II
Duck Award : Dan Fuller, 6 ducks (2 golden)
Can of Red Bull for Most Run-Outs : Jamie Ewing, run out 6 times