Despite a disappointing season which saw both Great Melton Alliance teams finish bottom of their respective divisions, and on a day when both Norwich City and the England rugby team lost, the mood was remarkably upbeat among the 73 members at the club’s Presentation Evening held at Glen Lodge. Tim Hales was the man with the most to be upbeat about as his 840 runs at an average of 35 made him the summer’s stand-out player and earned him 5 trophies. The B Team skipper was voted his team’s Player-of-the-Year but he also took the Keith Hall Shield for the Most Improved Player, and his 15 sixes and 102 fours made him a comfortable winner of Bubble’s Boundary Challenge Shield. In addition he received an award for 100 appearances and a Mid-Norfolk Sunday League Division 1 runner-up medal.
Chairman Steve Phoenix presented the medals to the successful Sunday team and remarked that, although the overall impression was that the club had suffered a poor season, there was a lot to be happy about. As well as the Sunday success, the midweek team won the Wicklewood Shield while the U9s and U13s won the South Norfolk Community League. Having played 168 matches in 2015, with 200 registered juniors and over 60 volunteers, including 16 qualified coaches, the Chairman said that it was not “all doom and gloom” and that the club would “find its level, rebuild and bounce back”.
One of the volunteers, Caroline Mawby, received the Aldous Shield from Vice-President, Malcolm Scarlett, on behalf of her and Trish Ellse for providing the regular Friday evening barbecues as well as cooking for the Beer and Junior Festivals. The other Clubman Award, voted for by club members, went to Neal Clarke whose involvement in the bar, on the ground, in team selection, as chief organiser of the beer festival and as the club statistician made him a worthy winner.
Young wicket-keeper batsman Joey Greenslade won the First team Player-of-the-Year Award, two years after his brother Chris, while the A Team shield went to skipper Lee Whiddett who, despite his team’s struggles, still scored 287 runs and took 6 wickets. Another wicket-keeper, evergreen Steve Clarke, took the C Team award for 328 runs and 17 victims behind the sumps.
George Bunn was another multiple award winner, taking the Sunday Player-of-the-Year Trophy as well as the Aldous Special Award for the outstanding performance which was his 93 for the A Team against a very hostile Vauxhall Mallards.
Ben Carding, who started the season in the C team and ended it in the firsts, received the U17 award from Junior Committee Chairman, David Bunn while, as well as Hales, four others were rewarded for their loyalty. 18-year-old Connor Stearman chalked up 100 games for Melton but has some way to go to reach the 400 played by Lee Whiddett and the 500 by Simon Woods.
Neal Clarke’s impressive 46-page stats booklet showed that only one record was broken during the season, with a new first team 8th wicket partnership of 63 between Nick Mackenzie and Olly Harris beating the previous best set 35 years ago by Steve Carr and Dave Stinton.
Finally the Chairman presented a bouquet of flowers to his wife Celia who, despite a difficult year following personal tragedy, had continued with her role as Welfare Officer and 100 Club organiser, filled in as cleaner and Membership assistant and organised the Presentation Evening.
While there was much positivity last Saturday, the immediate future of the club is less certain and, whether Melton can continue to field as many teams next year will depend on greater commitment from present players or an influx of new ones. It will also depend on being able to fill the captaincy positions at the AGM in November. The club are, already, looking to recruit new players of any standard and anybody interested is invited to contact Steve Phoenix via the club’s website.