A Review of the 1999 Season
1999 saw the achievement of a significant landmark in the history of the club with the purchase of a 150 year lease on the ground which will provide security of tenure for the foreseeable future. This process was a particularly difficult one with the Council advertising the Ground in the Chingford Guardian as “For sale” which caused uproar amongst Club members and the neighbours. Chingford’s initial bid was rejected out of hand and with two other parties in the bidding (the identity of one was known, the other remains a mystery to this day) the Club faced the task of raising a huge sum of money in a ten week period to provide the capital sum to secure the lease or we would become homeless or at the mercy of a new landlord. Loans and donations were sought and secured from members and the Chinghoppers also were kind enough to set up an appeal fund. How the situation got resolved required nothing less than a miracle and a miracle worker we were so fortunate to have in our knight in shining armour - President Jeff Runciman. We owe Jeff an immeasurable debt for the fact we are still able to play our cricket at Forest Side and indeed that the Club still exists and has lived to 125 years old to tell the tale. We will never ever forget what Jeff did for us here.
The season began in fine style with the 1st XI winning their first two league games and reaching the regional semi-final of the National Cup defeating Sunbury, Cheam and Wimbledon before finally succumbing to Bromley. This defeat however heralded a mid season decline before improving form in the second half of the season saw us finish in fourth position and if several victories had not eluded us by a fine margin, a promotion spot could well have been achieved. Opening bowler John Dyers started the season in devastating form with 17 wickets in the first three League fixtures, while James Runciman turned in several good all-round displays. James Hill, Richard Alston, Rizwan Akram and Shaun McMurray (who hit 109 v Walthamstow) formed the backbone of a powerful batting line-up. In the Evening Standard we again met Sunbury at home, but this time we suffered an early exit as they got the better of us.
The 2nd XI showed improved performance under Peter Tarrant but once again erratic availability could be considered to be to blame for not securing an instant return to Division One. There were some tremendous bowling performances with Carey Harborne and Kerry Marriott both securing 7 wicket hauls.
The 3rd XI did extremely well under Paul Hart in maintaining its Division One status given the number of colts used to fill the side. This turned out to be a bonus as many young players took big strides forward and this can only bode well for the future. Myles Joyce hit a magnificent 139 v Old Southendians to win the Noel Westerhout Performance of the Year Award. At least it made the trip all the way to Shoebury Park worthwile!
Michael Blake became the first bowler since the early eighties to capture nine wickets in a match in the Sunday B clash with Sawbridgeworth.
Cricket Week saw Robert Runciman make his maiden century as he hit 122 in the win against a Wormcasts attack that included Michael Blake!