THE phrase 12 months is a long time and is often overused when it comes to sporting arenas.
However in the case of Rugeley Cricket Club this simply isn’t the case.
Just over a year ago things looked far from good for the Chaseley Road based side with the prospect of a merger with Cannock & Rugeley Cricket Club on the cards due to a lack of playing personnel and the fact that the club was generally on a slippery downward spiral.
Fast forward a year and circumstances could not be much different with Rugeley CC celebrating what must be one of their most successful seasons ever.
The first team have topped off a brilliant 2013 campaign with promotion to the Staffordshire Premier League whilst the club and personnel off the field were also gaining top marks.
Lifetime member, and someone who is considered to be Mr Rugeley CC, Mick Dawson, celebrated 50 years with the club and also received high commendation for his services to the club at the Staffordshire Cricket OSCA’s whilst the club itself won the counties Natwest Cricketforce Club award.
If this was not big enough news due to the club winning the county award, the year also saw Rugeley CC members heading down to the Home of Cricket, Lord's, to represent Staffordshire at the National Awards.
With 39 other county winners in contention to pick up the prestigious Natwest Cricketforce Club award there was much surprise amongst the group when it was announced that Rugeley were in the top three in the country and had in fact finished runners-up.
To cap it all, at the Staffordshire League annual presentation evening, Dawson also received a Lifetime Achiever’s Award. This accolade helped to top what has been a fantastic turnaround over the last 12 months for the club.
Club chairman John Carter said: "We decided we’d try and ride out the troubles we were experiencing after a tricky 2012 season.
"Stuart Talbot arrived back as first team captain and he managed to bring in three new faces which automatically made a difference. All of a sudden from being a mediocre side we suddenly saw the potential of being able to challenge for honours.”
It wasn’t just on the field where the difference was being made though, with the players being backed in other areas.
"The committee we have got at the moment is the hardest working that I can remember in my 25 years here," said Carter.
The club were also on the lookout for unique ways to improve the general appearance of their Chaseley Road ground and in particular its redundant scorebox. After help from one of the younger players’ dad, who rebuilt the inside of the box, a decision was made to contact South Staffordshire College to see if they could provide any further assistance.
"That proved to be one of the best decisions that the club could have made," said Carter. "The tutors were more than willing to send their students down over what was at first a five/six week period for one day a week in order to help with any jobs we had.
"They built us a new set of steps up to the scorebox and generally they did a superb job. This included redecorating the clubhouse, thanks to support from councillor Geoff Martin and also from the Buffs (Royal Antidiluvian Order of the Buffaloes), with further improvements planned soon."
During a re-opening presentation, Jason Britton from the Staffordshire ECB said we ought to put in for the Cricketing OSCA’s – the Natwest Cricketforce Awards, due to what had been achieved.”
As a result, Rugeley CC has gone on to achieve top honours both locally and nationally, whilst also continuing to build upon the links which were made with the College.
Carter summed up what has been a pretty memorable 12 months in the history of Rugeley CC: "It’s been a fabulous year for the club, the icing on the cake was promotion for the first team and there were some superb performances in that.
"The overall picture of Rugeley Cricket Club is one of a club on the up which I suppose you could say started a couple of years ago by putting the fences up around the ground.
"Now there are hanging baskets and a lovely back-drop, all which helps just generally make the place look nice and in-turn attract people along to our club.”
Looking forward to the 2014 campaign, it is once again set to be a test for the club as they compete at a new level against well established sides.
The club is hoping to sign up a professional for the first team and is also continuing to build links with local schools to attract juniors and also South Staffs College as they look to complete a number of other tasks around the site.
Overall though 2013 can be seen as a great success and a million miles away from the troubles which they found themselves in at the back end of 2012.