Oakham Cricket Club is based in Rutland, the heart of rural England, and the smallest county. The county motto, Multum in Parvo, or much in little, really sums it up. Rutland Water is one of the largest man made lakes in Europe (small county, big pond), and was home to the smallest knight in history.
Oakham CC was first mentioned in 1808, and now has 2 teams in the new Leicestershire and Rutland League pyramid structure, plus side in the Sunday Rutland League, along with midweek teams. In particular we are proud of our junior coaching programme with over 200 children and 15 coaches, coaching all year round, culminating with over 15 children in various county squads.
We have now come to a watershed, and with a new management team, now is the time for us to take the next leap forward. Currently in Div 3 on a Saturday, our medium term plan is to reach Div 1 in 3 - 4 years.
Over the years we have invested heavily in our ground and facilities, and we are rated the 2nd best ground in the Leicestershire leagues, something we are rightly proud of.
Now is the time to focus on the playing side, and we are making concerted efforts to attract new talent to Oakham, and sell them our story. Connected with this, is investment in the infrastructure to bring in more supporters, and a better environment, even more so than before, for players and members.
Gone are the "Field of Dreams" days of "build it and they shall come", cricket is a competetive environment, and you have to work to attract players. This is a big focus for us, and helped by our fantastic sponsors such as The Lord Nelson, Lands End to name just 2. Without sponsorship and fundraising non of this is possible.
The issues we face are probrably the same as throughout our green and pleasant land. The Club is run by the same few volunteers, and we are striving to get more people involved. There is a limited pool of players, especially in the middle of rural England, with alot of local allegiances to a players village side. We have no given right for players just to walk through our gate.
This year, after years of proactive avoidance we have brought on board an "overseas" player, so we wait with interest to see how that pans out.
Another huge issue, probably peculiar to rural cricket is the retention of juniors once they leave school. Rutland is an affluent area and may go off to university and then on to city based jobs. We also see alot of juniors if that age not overly keen on 45 over cricket, more keen on the shortened version. These are challenges we have to overcome, and success I think will help this. Success breeds success at the end of the day.
Outside of Oakham and the bigger cricketing world, I have become and avid Tweeter, purely for Oakham CC and it amazes me how ever much I Tweet looking for solutions or offering help and support, how few Clubs respond. Surely we all have the same issues, and there are very few new ideas, so why reinvent the wheel, lets help each other.