Published by Horrocks, Brian (SI/SG), 14 May 2018

The much publicised 70th anniversary dinner took place on Saturday 12th May at Crewe Golf Club in Haslington. We were honoured by the presence of 120 people from current playing members to guests who last picked up a racket in our league many years ago. One of the most gratifying aspects of the whole night was seeing the many renewed acquaintances and meeting up of old friends. People travelled from across the country to join us. Photographs will be posted in the gallery – we asked one of our previous players and qualified umpire Don Griffiths to do the photography which he did when not delegating the task to wife Val who is also very well known to us having supported the league massively a few years ago. Here is a brief resume of events:


Doors were open early to greet many who had travelled a fair distance to be here. Memorabilia in the form of Photos, clippings, programmes, rackets and scrap books had been set up at one end of the room, which provided a magnet and opportunity for people to reminisce. Dave Sumner opened proceedings at 7.30, with a welcome to all and an early opportunity to introduce president Alan Horne. Dinner followed rapidly, a procession of people picking up their hot buffet followed by what still seems to most as the best sweet selection most people have ever seen. The level of hubbub was immense.


Formal proceedings followed. Dave gave some perspectives and then we had a brief look back at the many officials of the league over the years reflecting on how the league became a strong and well run organisation and has remained so due to the diligence and care from so many. Brian Horrocks ran through some of the main contributors. For example Jack Maybury who was one of the founders in 1946 (yes the 70th does start at a time a little after this. It took a  couple of years to get properly sorted out as a league) did 11 years as secretary and then 32 years as president. 33 years on behalf of the league! Others were just as committed – for example Les Williamson audited the books for 31 years and later John Rayner did 21 years auditing, Geoff Williams did 4  years as chairman and 24 years as president, the most competent secretary most of us has ever worked with – Tony Hickson did 22 years before his untimely demise with cancer, and it is a fair bet he would be doing it today if that hadn’t happened! And of course our own current champion of the league and primary conscience is Dave Sumner himself who clocked up 16 years as tournament secretary and is still in the chair in his 25th year of that job. Brian made a point of thanking Dave from all of us for this dedication. There are many more who have done their stint be it for several years of just a couple, they all provided what was described as ‘Strong and stable leadership’. This is why the league is still as well run as ever.


We then presented the tournament trophies followed by the divisionals. Tony Marks embellished each achievement with a few well-chosen facts from yesteryear. Throughout the records several people have won events for a number of years. This can be seen by looking at the download documents where we record our past winners. Both Claire Griffin and Ruth Raiswell figure in this list and are still playing as well as ever. Who would bet on them not dominating for some time to come?  Welsh Row, Canute, CEGELEC and Northwich claimed the trophies this year. Karl Bergh, the Cheshire County Chairman was our guest of honour and did the presentations followed by a short congratulations from Cheshire on our anniversary. He came to the event with his wife Jan who is also very active in Cheshire badminton. Derek and Anne Owen handed over the Janet Grice trophy to Welsh Row. The final trophy was the John Ford won this year by Weaverham. In presenting this we recorded our thanks to the handicappers who make the event possible.


Dave then gave some more of his perspectives from the chair. He thanked everyone he could for the help he has received, none more so than wife Terry who still looks after Crosses, but is always there at Dave’s side on league matters. Terry was there at 2.00 that afternoon with Alan and Brian setting up.


Another short hark back to the past was given by Brian – a look at some of the clubs who have made up the league. Today we have 15 clubs who make up our Mens, Ladies, Mixed and Masters league. A further 10 junior clubs are operating some of them attached to current senior clubs and others not so. It may be a surprising fact to know that 71 clubs have existed in the past who are longer operating in Crewe and District. Most have in fact become defunct, some ply their trade elsewhere. It is interesting to see how the earliest clubs were biased towards religious affiliations. Lots of Methodist churches, Baptists, Wesleyans and so forth. 70 years ago church halls may have been the only places badminton could be played. Sports Centres now dominate of course, contributing to higher standards, but possibly less on social aspects. The list of clubs is also a downloadable document. You will see some missing information. We don’t know where some of these clubs played – can anyone tell me?


Dave then invited some of our luminaries to say a few words. Geoff Williamson as above told a few tales and endorsed a consistent view about Dave Sumner being the league’s most valuable asset. Lots of ‘Hear Hear’ were heard amongst the audience to that. Geoff was followed by John Wilkinson described by many as one of the best players to have picked up a racket in our league. John reflected on some of the more amusing moments and the benefits of playing with spouses (discuss!)


The Tony Hickson memorial trophy was awarded next. Rose Hickson shared her thoughts about the past years before handing over the award to Marion Doe of Congleton. Marion has been involved in the game for more years than she wants to admit. Those years have been dedicated to making Congleton the club they are, mostly through secretarial duties. Many of Congleton’s successes on the court involved her. She worked with the juniors to get the continuity whilst improving her own game to play in the Cheshire teams. She is still playing masters today for Cheshire. Well done and thank you Marion for everything you have done for the league.


The final presentation of the evening was possibly the only nod to the future in the whole night which of course was a celebration of past success. The Stan Smith trophy is awarded to the most improved player, usually a junior, in recognition of improvement and future potential. Brian presented this and started with a brief look at past winners –many of whom were in the room. Jack McCaigue, Rob Bailey, Mark Watts, Rose Hickson, Mike Pumford, Peter Isherwood, Roxanne Hughes, Kara Robinson, Jack Raiswell and Hannah Marks. For those that know them, there can be no doubt that having been improved players they all became fantastic players in our league. A few weeks ago we ran a remarkable story on the web site about Cameron McGregor- Ogden of Canute and Goostrey. Cameron you may remember needed a bone marrow transplant to combat an aggressive cancer. Not only did he get through that trauma but then decided to take it by the throat in his recovery programme. That included taking up badminton in 2015. Since then he has developed his game with one to one coaching, he has pitched himself into senior and junior badminton. He has competed at all levels such as Badminton England bronze events. Most significantly of all he has represented Great Britain in the world transplant games, bringing back gold and silver medals. Not only does he win these things he also comes back with best sportsman wards due to his fantastic attitude. Believe it or not we may not have seen him in badminton at all if his first love, competitive  skiing, hadn’t been ruled out. If he can’t compete on the snow he makes up for it by being a coach. He also bagged medals at the winter transplant games. This all in 3 years. He is now going on to university in Leeds (good choice) to study civil engineering and our best wishes go with him. He has already checked out the badminton facilities and made himself known to the captains. Brian handed over the trophy to the accompaniment of his father – Carl – bursting with pride. Cameron could not have achieved what he has without the support of his parents and Carl has done most to get him on court and playing. A very worthy winner indeed.


A nice surprise followed when Steve Aylott, who is one of our most successful players in recent years, recounted a visit to Badminton England headquarters recently. Steve was able to spend some time with Adrian Christie who is the Chief Executive of Badminton England. In conversation Steve was able to describe our anniversary to which Adrian penned a really nice framed letter of congratulation. This is one of the leagues proudest possessions and Dave will get it around to our various events so you can see it. Thank you Steve for that contribution, it confirmed the theme of our league being highly valued.


Concluding the event Dave asked Donald Potter to say a few words. Donald was very instrumental in the earlier days. He actively recruited clubs to join us and played his part in the organisation, serving 6 years as Treasurer, 5 years as tournament secretary and 8 years as chairman. Donald replayed a few favourite memories, particularly sending Crewe and District teams on tour to places like the Isle of Man. Ireland and even Iceland. Dave rounded off with an amusing tale which was basically, in other circumstances, he would not have been here as Chairman today. It appears he was out of the country at the time of being nominated. He thought he was due to be secretary but Tony Hickson bagged that role. They  gave Dave the job of tournament secretary in his absence and only told him when he returned to the country. Later – Anne Owen asked Dave who he was at the first tournament, and when Dave explained he was the new tournament secretary Anne revealed that at the meeting they thought they were voting to get Alan Horne in to the job. They don’t even look alike, but David ‘Alan Horne’ Sumner was duly elected. What a good job he was!


In order to get people up and moving John Hunter and Ruth Raiswell did a Heads and Tails game. Two games were played and Alan Horne took the first of these with a £50 prize following his success in this game 2 years ago. The second £50 was taken by Jez Touch to go with his Gents Open singles trophy. Not a bad night Jez.


There followed a lot more mingling and reminiscing until midnight. Thank you everybody who made it a wonderful night. Whether or not Dave and I will manage the 100th anniversary has to be in slight doubt but you never know.