Case Study - The Success Of Melrose CC
This case study is on Melrose CC who has had a very successful year with the junior section. The club have managed to foster a great community environment that sees cricket thriving in the town.
Like most cricket clubs Melrose CC competes, over the summer months, with a number of other sports. Gone are the days when Monday and Wednesday nights are ‘cricket only nights’ with today’s young now having a myriad of other sporting opportunities to choose from. All that said Melrose CC has been highly successful in growing its participant numbers over the past couple of seasons.
Today Melrose CC attracts, on junior nights, up to sixty young girls and boys ranging from as young as age 6 up to age 14. The Under 14s won this year’s Borders Cup, the primary school finished 4th in the National Kwik Cricket tournament and teams have successfully participated in a number of hard (and soft) ball festivals throughout the summer.
This season also saw the passing of Club legend Stuart McKay. Stuart was a prominent figure in promoting the junior side of the club working tirelessly in coaching the age group teams. Stuart was also groundsman and would be there most nights during the season preparing the wicket for each fixture. Put simply, Melrose CC wouldn’t be the club it is today without the amount of hard work that Stuart put in.
He was a big part of the club and will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him. In honour of Stuart, the club instigated the `Stuart McKay Cup` for the most improved junior player for the season which was a joint award this year won by Will Owen and Darrin King. This was presented, along with the Borders U14 Cup, at the fantastic Stuart McKay Memorial Match that was held at the club.
As junior convenor Jerry Brett says, “In recent years we have mainly focused on growing our junior section and making the club much more community and family spirited. In 2013 we began hosting regular ‘Family Days and BBQs’ when parents/grandparents and children all play (non-stop) cricket together in an enjoyable and safe environment.
From a Cricket Scotland perspective, creating a community feel at any cricket club is crucial to the long-term sustainability of the game. There`s no doubt that our healthiest clubs across the country have embraced this approach and realised that the `playing side` of the game is only one part of a healthy club and sport, and by having a more holistic approach it`s amazing how the membership of the club all of sudden doesn`t become an issue.
To further foster the `community` feel at the club they also undertook a series of ‘DIY Days’ with the aim of refurbishing the clubhouse. This involved children, parents and senior players repainting and upgrading the pavilion. The cost of this was met from the club`s own funds along with the generous support of many sponsors.
Junior Convenor Jerry Brett commented - “Looking ahead we hope to consolidate on the recent growth in children participating on junior nights and as well improving the quality of coaching, we hope to improve upon the on-field facilities we have as well.”
To start this process, Melrose recently purchased a new mobile net and junior bowling machine - with the help of a grant from the Cricket Development Trust. These facilities have been a fantastic addition that has helped improved both the quality and quantity of training at the club. The bowling machine has been a real hit with juniors and seniors alike, and at recent Kwik Cricket festivals it`s also attracted parents to `have a go` as well.
With these improved facilities and community approach a notable aspect of junior nights at Melrose is the number of parents who have become involved with coaching. The club hosted an Introduction to Coaching Course with over 10 parents taking part and everyone pitches in at junior training nights to share the load. A great spin off of the parent engagement has been those parents not coaching have formed a tea and home baking rota for junior nights, thereby raising more funds for the club and ensuring the kids are well provided for!
To summarise, Melrose CC have achieved some fantastic results in the last couple of seasons. The club is in a healthy position but they`re always looking at how they can improve and become an even more welcoming club for the whole community. The key learnings from the Melrose story include:
- Create a `family` environment at your club. One of the great strengths of cricket is that anyone can play – young, old, male and female – and/or be involved in many aspects of the club. Remember people can contribute in many ways – coaching, playing, managing, scoring, umpiring, doing the teas, groundsman, running the BBQ, tidying up the clubhouse – and if you can make this part of the culture and expectation that people help out in some small way, then your club will be stronger for it
- Provide facilities that make your club inviting and encourage people to stay down there. Melrose made huge improvements to the clubhouse and training facilities that made the environment for socialising and playing much more comfortable. Take stock of your facilities and ask yourself whether this would be somewhere you would want to join if you were new to the game
- Engage parents!! Parents ultimately decide what sports their children play or end up staying involved with. If they have a great experience and think cricket is brilliant, then they will bring their kids along
- Don`t underestimate the value of the `experience` you provide at the club. If someone has a great time at your club then they`re likely to bring other family members down, tell their friends and work colleagues about it, and generally end up doing the best marketing for you – word of mouth. Remember the value of your members - someone paying a membership every year and attracting friends and family to the club (who also pay a membership) because they have such a good time is worth considerably more to the club financially, than a token sponsor for a few quid that took you forever to secure. The golden rule has to be - look after your people!
Finally, well done Melrose CC on your outstanding efforts over the last few years and we look forward to this new generation coming through the ranks.