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Secretary's Report To The AGM

posted Jan 13, 2016, 4:07 AM by Malcolm Fletcher   [ updated Jan 13, 2016, 4:08 AM ]
When I sat down to write this, ladies and gentlemen, my fifth annual report, I feared it was going to be one of mainly doom and gloom.

The Jason Hill business cast a dark shadow over the 2015 season and the personal abuse I received on this subject at the Harris Cup final was very hard to take.

Abbey Bowling Club was dissolved in September and we lost yet another green at Ercall Magna.

We had a very poor response to a referees seminar we hosted pre-season, then the Unregistered Players problem, followed by reports of bad behaviour and foul language at a couple of fixtures.

There was no junior doubles competition and no junior division day due to lack of under-18s and, on the very last night of the season, a near-miss in terms of controversy due to our fixtures being out of sync with the Premier League.

But then I started to think, was last year all that bad? And the answer is NO, definitely not!

We had Mike Potter representing Mid Shropshire as County President in fantastic fashion, his superbly organised County Merit finals at first class hosts Allscott being a real highlight.

The league’s over-60s won the Shropshire veterans inter-league championship for the third time in four years under the astute leadership of Tony Roche and our first division champions Donnington Wood reached the County Consolation Cup final.

Alan Jones won the Mid Shropshire Senior Merit for the third time in three years, with Trench doing a terrific job as finals hosts, and young Harry Church claimed an historic double of under-15 and under-18 Merit triumphs.

Competition entries, overall, increased and we launched a new Under-25 Merit which was an instant success. Hopefully an Over-60 Merit will follow this year.

There were three more good cup finals, the best being a thunder and lightning hit Ashton Shield final that saw Albrighton edge to victory nearly 24 hours after the tie was scheduled to finish! Bowring hosted that cracker and the Wellington club marked 2015 with a tremendous treble, boasting the winners of the Shropshire Senior and Junior Merits and the County Handicap.

Still on the playing front, it was great to see Prince of Wales Hotel from Shrewsbury return to the league in the Dennis Lewis Thursday Division and I am still hopeful that Shawbury will join them this year.  

Talking of additions, we also gained the backing of three new sponsors - and our thanks go to Shifnal BC, Bowls Trader and BBranded UK, their contributions helping to ensure that the league enjoyed yet another profitable season.

The good news on the sponsorship front is that we are close to agreeing a renewed deal with Moslon Coors, only this time on a more secure footing following a meeting with their regional representative.

Still on the subject of money, we made loans to both Horsehay and Madeley Cricket Club in 2015 and, given our strong financial position, if any member clubs need a helping hand from the league they should never be afraid to ask.

It was Shifnal who asked the league to host the presentation of its Clubmark certificate which led to an historic appearance of a British President at one of our ordinary meetings as Barry Massey from the Potteries graced us with his presence. My sincere congratulations go to Shifnal who are only the sixth crown green club in Britain to achieve this feat, one of the others being Newport.

We’ve had the league’s trophies valued for insurance purposes and are in the process of compiling a photographic record of all of them for the same reason. The Ashton Cup has been upgraded and we will continue to improve the collection next year when the very dated Ashton Shield will get renewed.

The website has been given another new look, we have a new league logo and letterhead, and – given the success of the Sub Group and approval of one of tonight’s proposals – will be slimming down our meetings programme.

There’s another record of 215 people booked to attend Saturday’s annual presentation dinner and, thanks to terrific work by vice-chairman Steve Roberts with help from Rob Burroughs, a Junior Development Policy that is ready to roll.

So the positives far outweigh the negatives, but there are still plenty of things I’d like to see us improve on – many of which are covered by the proposed rule changes later on the agenda, but most importantly the conduct of bowlers both on and around the greens.

Sadly, not all the officers who have served this league so well will be aboard as we continue to strive to make progress in the future.

Minute secretary John Kitchen has announced he will be standing down at next year’s AGM while President Jeff Hutchinson will be making his farewell speech shortly.

On your behalf I thank them most sincerely for all they have done - and Jeff, I have to say that without your help I don’t think I would have survived for this long as secretary. I am forever in your debt and I hope to partly repay you by proposing you for Honorary Life Membership at the league’s next executive meeting.

In 2016 you’ll have to become my honorary advisor – and with that assured I say onward and upward!

Malcolm Fletcher - MSBL general secrertary