We caught up with Nigel Muirhead, Chairman at Toft Cricket Club who told us about some of the club’s biggest achievements and how people can sign up whether they’re beginners or seasoned pros.
Firstly, tell us about Toft Cricket Club.
Toft Cricket Club has been running since 1928 and is based at Booths Park. We have 400 members who are aged between eight and 90. There are three senior sides who play over the weekend and an over 40s team which meet on a Wednesday night. We also run nine junior teams and have a charity side called the Toft Taverners. They play on a Thursday night with the objective of raising funds for the local citizens of Knutsford who are aged 70 and over. Each year, using the funds raised, we take elderly people from the local community to Lytham St Annes for a day away. Last year 250 people came along so it’s a really rewarding event and this year marks the 50th year that we’ve organised it.
What does your role involve as chairman of the cricket club?
I have responsibility for the overall club and the day-to-day running of things - everybody except two people here are volunteers, including myself, so I get a lot of help. I also look after the long-term strategy for the club, a good example of this is the existing pavilion which we are looking to update within three to five years.
Organising sponsorships and fundraising is another important part of my role so I look after any events and initiatives we have going on. There’s always something happening, in fact we have about 250 annual events from weddings and parties to keep fit classes and the club is also home to the local bridge club. Tonight we have over 100 people coming here for a sportsman’s dinner where we’re hoping to raise £10,000.
Away from the general running of the club, I still play cricket on a Saturday and have just started playing in the 3rd team with my son on a Sunday.
Tell us about your last season?
Last season was very successful for us, although the season before was even better. In 2014 we won nine trophies across all of our senior sides and we were the club of the year in Cheshire. Last year, as I say, wasn’t as successful but we still got to finals day for the first team 20/20, the over 40s won their group finals and the third team finished third in the premier league. So again we had a good year and we’re now looking forward to this coming season which starts on 23rd April.
Who attends Toft Cricket Club?
We’re open to both members who sign up to play cricket and non-members, so we’re really inclusive and happy to welcome new players. As we have a licensed bar, we hire out the club for a range of events including company days, birthday parties and christenings. The nets are also available to hire so this type of thing is generally our link with the local community.
Can people of any ability play?
Yes, certainly. We start at level two which is under eights through to under 18s and then onto seniors.
The club has been based here since 1928, what do you know about its history?
We’ve actually got a great archivist, Jeff Tennor who’s done years of research and work. But I guess the two main highlights would be 1978 and 1989, when we went to Lords and won the National Village cup. Lords is known as the home of cricket and the Village cup is a nationally renowned competition, so it was a really big deal for us.
How do you find being based at Booths Park?
Great. We get on really well with Bruntwood and have a great relationship with the staff who also see the cricket club as a great asset for Booths Park.
What’s the atmosphere like here on a match day?
If the first team are at home around tea time, we’ll get quite a good crowd. The bar is always open on match days and there’s a great atmosphere – especially in the summer - it’s the perfect setting here. We also have a really great atmosphere down here when we hold our annual summer ball. It’s a black tie event and we have a live band – this is actually the 18th year it’s been going. The ball is open to the wider community and companies based at Booths Park, so everyone is welcome.
Do you have any recruits from the staff based here?
Not at the moment but we’d be delighted to welcome more people if it’s something they’re interested in. Whether they’ve played for years or would just like to take it up – all abilities are welcome. Taverners takes place on Thursday nights and that’s great for people who like to play recreationally or for fun.
Another way both staff at Booths and the local community can get involved is through ad hoc bar work at the club house. We run a range of functions and don’t always have people who are available to work so if anyone wants some experience do get in touch.
And finally, do you have a favourite place in Knutsford?
It has to be here. A lot of people say this is my second home given the amount of time I spend at the cricket club!