It's pretty safe to say that the 2020 "season" will go down as one of the most unusual in the club's history - and probably in the entire history of cricket! With the country under various lockdowns thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, there appeared to be little chance of any sport at a national level, let alone at local clubs such as ours. The fact that 10 weeks later we have not only held a mini-season but made new friends and rivalries, enjoyed a huge wave of goodwill from new fans and opponents, and taken the club forwards both on and off the field speaks volumes.

There are numerous people we wish to send a formal thanks to, and we'll say upfront that absolutely everyone involved with the club at every level from casual spectator right up through the players and committee, have been magnificent in ensuring that cricket at TSJ not only took place but thrived in the toughest of circumstances. If we miss anyone from the list below we apologise and thank you for your efforts and support!

Firstly, it's important to recognise that without a strong case from the ECB grassroots cricket would not have taken place. Their strong advocacy led to the government giving the go-ahead to recreational cricket, and the guidelines they drew up provided reassurance that we could not only play but do so safely. The GMCL are also owed a huge thanks for their ability to adapt and draw up a competitive list of fixtures at such short notice, and also for providing clear guidance as to how to "get the game on" in the right way.

However, simply having fixtures was no guarantee of being able to play, and this is where the next group of people took a leading role. The groundstaff, volunteers, players and associated helpers did a fantastic job in ensuring that the ground was ready and available throughout the lockdown period should we get the call to action. Kieran's tireless work on the field itself - even through the trauma of an emergency op - was magnificent; everyone's seen the photos of how great the ground looked when we were mainly confined to staring at 4 walls every day. He deserves an enormous thanks. Similarly, Richard and James Peacock deserve special praise for their work - the number of times young James could be spotted totting up the miles on the outfield mower or hauling equipment about was remarkable. Clive, Dasher, Rick, Bret, Sam and a whole host of others came down to help out with the pavilion, the nets, ensuring stock levels were good and did the 101 "unseen" jobs that keep a club running - even when there's no cricket!

Throughout the lockdown the committee was working remotely, adopting Zoom for monthly calls while we were prevented from meeting face to face, and not only did we keep the club ticking over but even put into place ambitious plans for enhancing the ground and club facilities - the lines entrance development is a huge boost to the club and the local community, providing excellent new access to the ground for matchdays and special events. A new raised patio area in front of the club transformed the look, with railings added and painted. Special mention here too to the sponsors who continued to give us money or support in 2020 when times were tough and they had no need. This is deeply appreciated.

The players also responded magnificently, both when training was allowed to resume in small groups and then as the season got underway. Again there are several important contributions that need to be recognised. Firstly the cricket committee folks - Hayesy and Watty - for their tireless work keeping everyone together and informed as to developments and for pushing through ambitious plans for the new junior set up. Ry Marsh took on training responsibility initially, and then as the season got underway a superb new training plan was devised by Keni and Smalley to work on important areas for the players - much more intense and focused fielding drills, specialist batting and bowling work, things that will show real dividends in 2021. The players bought into this wholeheartedly. Thanks very much to all that were able to come down and take part in the fielding and training drills - the comments and occasional pictures of fabulous bruises on social media are testament to how hard people worked and bought into the new regime!

Continuing with the players, the way everyone got on with playing despite a long list of restrictions and adaptations was terrific. Around 50 different individuals turned out for the 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and juniors in the 2 months we played, a remarkable achievement. The efforts of the captains - Ryan, Ben and Mark Parky - together with the various committees and selection groups are much appreciated. While the level of opponent was often much higher than expected or familiar, we put in creditable efforts in almost every match, with the 1sts taking the scalp of Unsworth and running the "big guns" of Bury and Heywood close. The renewed team spirit was as good as we've seen in many years, with everyone pulling together and working hard for each other. The 2nds also saw some promising performances, with a great win away at Astley and Tyldesley a real highlight. The 3rds saw some terrific individual efforts from Bret and Sam Collins in particular, and across all three teams there were encouraging signs from some of our younger players of big things to come in the future.

Thanks also to the players, officials and spectators of our opponents who showed us good hospitality and good humour in trying situations. It was great being able to visit "new" grounds and take on a new set of opponents through the season.

Matchdays at Crompton Meadows were often well attended, with good crowds showing up on more than one occasion. This was handled superbly by the bar staff, with special thanks to everyone who put in hard shifts keeping the bar running and staffed - thanks to Donna, Kieran, Dickie and James, Dasher, Sam, Sharon, Esther and all those who worked around the club and in the pavilion to keep punters safe, adhering to guidelines, and watered! Spectators were a welcome bonus - we're not often used at Totty to seeing the kinds of crowds who enjoyed a few warm summer weekends, and their support was very welcome indeed. We hope to see you back under less restricted circumstances next year!

A personal thanks to my fellow committee members who put in so much work, much of it generally unnoticed or unknown, to ensure that not only did the club continue to function but has developed. In additions to the developments mentioned above, there are already some ambitious plans for work in the winter (circumstances permitting) and through 2021, so watch this space.

Once again thank you to absolutely everyone involved in and around the club for their good humour, hard work and sincere efforts on behalf of TSJCC in the most unusual and trying situation anyone can remember. We will continue to keep everyone abreast of developments through the off-season and hope that by 2021 we can all get back to a more recognisable cricketing situation!

Doc P - on behalf of the committee

I Will if You Will Biffaward

Beryl Avenue, Tottington, Bury, BL8 3NF
Twitter: @TottyStJohnsCC