At last we are back! The season got under way last week and despite a much reduced number of sides taking part than in 2019 when we last held a full league season enthusiasm seems good for our game with 3 new sides joining the league this year. On the downside 15 sides have not been able, for a variety of different reasons been able to enter the league this year, but we hope they will be back in the future.
We have experienced a number of challenges over the past couple of years and have not only lost pubs and clubs and their teams, but also a small number of people long associated with the league as players and officers have passed since we last played. They will all be remembered when the Founders and Legends Trophy is competed for later in the Summer.
There are a number of changes that are being introduced this year including the online only registration of teams, players and match scores which last week caused a few hiccups, but hopefully have, or soon will be resolved. Apologies for all of you who have been affected by the website glitches and our inability to resolve them quickly. As a Committee we want to make things easier to do for you, but for some, that has proven not to be the case! So sorry!
Other changes this season include an earlier start…8pm not 8.30 as was tradition! This change, agreed at the AGM has not been universally popular already so discretion, common sense and agreement between the 2 sides on start times as long as it is no later than 8.30 should avoid any debate and conflict. People do have to work and often travel so whilst the rule is there it should not need to be rigidly applied.
Another change this year is to experiment in Section E only with the option of playing matches with 6, 7 or 8 players per leg, but with the introduction of substitutes to allow both sides to have a level playing side, but also allowing sides with 6 players the opportunity to only play against 6 on the opposition, but also allowing sides with 7 or 8 players the option of playing all of those although maybe in only 1 or 2 of the legs to ensure 6 a side for each leg.
One other important change is to the Competitions which have always been played on Thursday evenings through June and July, making for some, 2 successive nights of Aunt Sally for 6 to 8 weeks.
With the exception of the 8’s Competition we are planning to hold all of the other Competitions on one day, at one venue with 2 throws. More details about that and how to enter in the next week or so.
Well back to week 1 and let me start with the good news. 19 of the scheduled 22 matches took place, it didn’t rain and almost 300 players took part.
Some things don’t change and at the top of the individual leader board were the names Dix and Parker who both hit 14 dolls for Abingdon United B in a high scoring match against Plum Pudding which United won 4-2, after 1 game of 18 these two already look to be the likely contenders for the top!
I should also mention Derek (Rod Stewart) Fletcher who also hit 14 dolls for Steventon Sports in their 6-0 win over a depleted Hart of Harwell side.
Now for the not so good news, we had 3 “no shows” on Week 1! One was fine with opponents told in advance, one was a genuine oversight which meant an unnecessary round trip of about 30 miles for an away side whose opponents thought the season started this week and the third was a team who couldn’t field a side, so didn’t travel and failed to let their opponents know in advance or even on the day!
So, it’s week 2 and lets hope that all scheduled matches take place and are played in the right spirit and enjoyed. Remember it’s just a game……………..but a game where we all want to play our best whatever our best is!