posted 12 Sept 2014, 12:04 by Mike Madden
I’m sure that Johnny Tillotson would chuckle at that headline – but the rest of you may well be wondering what I’m on about. Well, To Tea Or Not To Tea? That is the question. It started with an innocent question about who was going to the next League meeting, as we have trophies to return. Our secretary responded that TR Wild was going because of the “Teas Motion”. I wondered what that could possibly be, and it was clarified that Whaley Bridge are proposing that compulsory provision of teas on Saturday afternoons is scrapped.
Now, I have not got all of the facts, so much of the rest of this is supposition and speculation, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The text exchange with the secretary continued, and he thought that it was for financial reasons. Many moons ago the league decided that home clubs would pay for teas, removing the awkwardness when the captain was told that those two tuna butties and a jam tart each would cost around £100. So, we have a budget of around £50 – and most weeks we are able to stick within it. Unfortunately the cost of staging a cricket match on a Saturday continues to rise. If we get 2 umpires we have to pay one of them £35, plus £20 for a scorer. So over a two week period (home and away), our expenditure could be £160. In a team with no juniors, assuming everyone pays £7.50, the income is £165. If we only get one umpire our expenditure drops by £12.50, and if we get no scorer it drops by a further £20. Unfortunately, with juniors in the team who only, in theory, pay for their teas at £4 per head, we lose out, though we are far less likely to have 2 umpires. So, I pointed out that if we simply scrapped teas the financial implications could be severe. Last week we had 3 seniors in the seconds, so assuming (what was it they said about assumption) that all match day revenue drops by £4 per player, I would have gathered the princely sum of £10.50, whilst having to pay out £55. 11 x £4 is £44, less than our budget, so it could be argued that the provision of teas would have put us in an even deeper hole financially, but not so. Whilst there are persons in the kitchen they are generally amenable to serving up tea and coffee as well as a host of chocolate, crisps and soft drinks at a reasonable profit. And for an away match I still collect 11 x £4 with no outlay. So the financial argument does not really stack up, except that our secretary thought that the match fee would remain unchanged at £7.50. Ouch! So juniors paid £4 to cover the cost of their tea, and they will continue to pay £4, for, err, nothing. Surely that must have been lost in translation.
But let us speculate further. Could the motion have been driven by the fact that on many occasions the first team had to make their own teas? So could it be more a matter of logistics than anything else? The seconds had a host of volunteers, some of whom had to be cajoled into doing it, but there was never a week when the players had to muck in. Are the firsts just not that good at cajoling. Its only 11 games, and possibly a cup match. We never had this problem when Andrew Atkins was tea monitor.
And what would we lose by not having teas. It was at tea that Ian Abbott sat down with Phil Day at the umpires table at Old Glossop. It was at tea that the Maltese coinage turned up, more of a Maltese Magpie than a Falcon, and it was at tea that Darren Crompton offered more than the occasional lecherous sideways glance at several tea ladies, most notably at Hayfield. Obviously, there would be a tea interval, but where would the camaraderie be? No more smoke filled kitchen at Tintwistle, no more ham sandwiches without the ham at Dove Holes, and no more scones filled with cherries and hair. Who would brew up? Who would sell out of date Rola Cola to the unsuspecting opposition?
What next? Will we ask the league to only provide one umpire to reduce our outlay? Will we dispense with scorers to reduce our outlay?
Cricket teas are a quintessential part of village cricket. To lose them would be like losing the sound of leather on willow, the song of a skylark on a summer day, and the stiff breeze that chills fielders to the bone at Dove Holes and more recently Whaley Bridge.
Finances can be sorted – as I have said many times the future of the club relies upon the strength of its membership, and everyone should be prepared to volunteer to raise funds. The logistics of tea ladies should also not be insurmountable, so here’s a radical suggestion. We pay the umpire, we pay the scorer, why not pay the tea ladies? £20 each for two of them on a Saturday? I admit that people wont be flocking to assist, but a couple of students may well be willing to give up their Saturdays for some much needed income.
This may be anathema to the current crop of tea ladies, and there would certainly be no consideration for back pay as happened rather embarrassingly in other areas a few years ago, but the scorer used to get £2.50 – and now they get £20. Match levies should probably be increased – I cant recall the last time this happened, and books must be balanced. The staging of cricket on a Saturday is why we are here. The running of the cricket club is a business that must, by and large, support itself. If a fundraiser raised £400, that could equate to almost an extra £20 per game. Any volunteers?
The views of the Captain are not necessarily the views of Whaley Bridge Cricket Club.