Midi CC has completed its move to a new ground in Pouzolles and has elected a new President to oversee what should be an exciting 2017 season in an expanded South-West France regional league.
An enthusiastic team of Midi stalwarts loaded up trailers, a van, a station wagon and a few cars for a nostalgic departure from the club’s home in St Pons de Mauchiens to the venue near Roujan just over 25km away.
Among the removalists was newly elected president James Luckes, who was involved in the birth of the club 11 years ago and has been a firm supporter ever since. He was optimistic that the Pouzolles move would herald a bright future after the uncertainty of the 2016 season with few fixtures and the loss of the club’s St Pons’ home.
“I think the move went well and the new facilities will be a great step forward for the club. A bit of hard work to do, but I am sure it will all look great in due course,” he said.
The new committee, elected at the club’s AGM on 20 October, has been buoyed by the decision taken at the November 5 AGM of the region’s governing body ACCSO ( Association des Clubs de Cricket de Sud-Ouest) to merge the northern and southern pools into one division bringing together a potential eight clubs.
Secretary Reg Gratton welcomed the move, which will be trialled for a season. “The southern pool was reduced to three clubs in 2016 – us, Catus CC and Toulouse CC – which meant only four league fixtures. You got tired of playing the same old faces. An enlarged competition should attract more members and certainly excites the existing squad,” he said.
With only Andorra CC providing friendly opposition in 2016 – three UK clubs cancelled their planned friendly tours to the Languedoc – the season was disappointingly thin for Midi, given that it probably had its strongest ever squad.
With the new ground and a reinvigorated league competition, the club has launched a recruitment drive to lift the number of official supporters and, more importantly, advertise its presence in Pouzolles and surrounding villages. It costs only 10 Euros for an individual or a family to become social members. Membership forms are posted on the website – www.midicricket.com. The club is also undertaking a mailout over the next few weeks.
“We are keen to become part of the Pouzolles community, something we achieved in St Pons, and we are sure that there are not only a number of expatriates in the area keen on giving their support to the club, but also local French residents who will be interested in finding out about this strange English game,” Reg Gratton said.
With this in mind, the club plans to have a social curtainraiser at the Pouzolles ground before the season starts with a BBQ, a bar and friendly in-house match to demonstrate the finer points of the game. All the Pouzellais and Pouzellaises will of course be made welcome.
The Commune de Pouzolles newsletter has already carried an article welcoming the club to the village with a brief summary of the rules of the game and some action photos to whet the local appetite.
The club’s AGM not only elected a new President to replace Marc Dalling, who oversaw last year’s very successful 10th anniversary celebrations, but also a new Treasurer, Dom George, who takes over from David Amoros, and will retain his role as Fixtures Secretary. Both Marc and David were given a hearty vote of thanks for their work for the club over a number of years. Reg Gratton remains Acting Secretary. Other committee members elected were Club Captain Ankush Lal, Ken Miller, former President Colin Trickett, David Cole, Martin Haskins and Joris Verdaasdonk.
James Luckes, who moves into the President’s hot seat, lives with his wife Gillian in Roujan, just down the road from the new ground, and with others he helped founder member Robin Hicks convert the field in his backyard into Midi’s first ground.
He played in a number of the early practice sessions. “The highlight was being carted off to the Clinic Pasteur in Pezenas to have my head stitched up following a trip over one of the minor ‘hummocks’ in Robin’s outfield,’ he said.
One of the club’s early highlights was a visit from James’ Stand Club in Taunton, Somerset, in 2006 for a match against Midi on Robin Hicks’ ‘pitch’. “I cannot recall who won but I seem to remember that we had a damn good time and it was very hot.”
On his agenda as the new President is to organize a return fixture with The Stand Club next September.