Churt and Hindhead cricket clubs have merged to form a new club.
The England cricket teams – men and women – are exciting to watch and interest in the game is happily growing among boys and girls, as well as with grown-up converts.
However, at the grassroots level, things have been tough.
Costs of running a village club have increased, whereas numbers volunteering to help run it have reduced, and the era when players would commit to playing nearly every match of the season has long since gone.
That situation faced both Churt and Hindhead.
Churt were founded in 1875 and were a founding member of the I’Anson competitions before moving to the Fullers League and then, in 1998, the Surrey Championship.
Last season, they were struggling to get sufficient numbers to fill their three Saturday league teams and Sunday friendly cricket was no more.
Hindhead, founded in 1910, were struggling to fulfil their Saturday league team fixtures and the collapse of the club altogether was imminent.
That brought the couple together. There had been a foundation for the relationship, as Churt’s third team already played matches at Hindhead’s ground and enjoyed use of the bar afterwards.
The engagement started with a soft merger during the 2022 season, during which players from both origin clubs came together – both on the field and at social events.
The official merger in the autumn put the seal on the emergence of a new club: Churt and Hindhead CC.
These are exciting times for this sporting phoenix.
The club want to offer cricket to as many people as it can, acknowledging that times have changed, and greater flexibility is required.
The junior section – once vast and then nearly barren – has been regrown over recent years, with seven to 13 year-olds of all abilities receiving professional, outsourced coaching and matches at a suitable level.
Property Partnership founder Rufus Williams, who is one of the club’s sponsors, said: “Investment in the club has had a direct impact in the community.
“I have experienced first-hand the joy parents and children get from cricket – Friday night barbecues and junior training is the social place to be in the summer.”
There is a rapidly-growing women’s section at the club starting their first year in the I’Anson softball league.
For men, the club offer the opportunity to play in either the Surrey Championship, or more locally in the I’Anson League structure, with two sides in each competition.
For those who can only slip away for a couple of hours during the week, there are competitive Twenty20 matches.
There will also be a number of fun, social events.
The club know the financial burden on families is tough and that high subscription costs can put off new, or even existing, members.
To that end, subscription levels have been capped at £50 with further reductions for new members.
Club sponsor Bel and Dragon said: “Community is at the heart of everything for businesses like ours, so working with a progressive club like Churt and Hindhead – whose stunning tree-lined grounds is near our property in Churt – is fantastic.
“They have changed the perception of club sport in the community and we are focused on helping them achieve their goal of sport for all and enable events for men, women and juniors to be celebrated together.”
The introduction of professional scoring software, scoreboard enhancements and even videoing of matches will help junior development but also grow the club’s member base.
People in the area who are interested in the club’s various teams – but don’t want to play – can come along to watch and enjoy food and drink at the club’s grounds, or catch up via online highlights.
Weather permitting, outdoor nets start at Churt on Thursday, April 13. Visit churt.play-cricket.com/Aboutus to enquire about joining the club.