CHOBHAM Cricket Club has seen many positive changes over the past few years.

Club chairman Julian Broughton believes Chobham have gone from strength to strength.

Broughton, who is in his fourth year in the role, told the News & Mail: “I got involved because of the state the club was in. If you go back to 2018, we were even forfeiting 1st XI games [because of player unavailability]. Our 2nd XI’s had dropped out of the league completely and that’s about the time that I began to get involved.”

Broughton, who initially joined Chobham after looking for a cricket club for his son to join, said: “We live in the village. I live two minutes away so this was the most obvious place to come to. I’ve been involved in cricket my whole life so I suspect even if I hadn’t had my son I would have still wanted to get involved in the village cricket club, but there was an added incentive because of him.”

During his time as chairman, the club, whose 1st XI’s play in the Shepherd Neame Surrey County League Division One, have enjoyed success on the pitch and will look to clinch a third successive promotion this season.

On the Surrey Heath club’s upward trajectory, Broughton said: “In a sense all of the stars have aligned. Off the field, we’ve got a very capable committee. On the field we’ve got a great club captain [Giles Henderson]. And we’ve also been fortunate we’ve had all these juniors who are coming through because we’ve got their pathway correct [Chobham are members of the ECB’s All Stars and Dynamos cricket schemes for children aged five to 11].

“And for the first time this year we’ve also got an adult coach called Jacobi Robinson who was our overseas player last season. He’s our adult coach and in Jacobi you’ve got a guy who’s played World Cup cricket for Bermuda so we’re very lucky to have him. He’s certainly bought a different ethic to the adults training. So it’s not just 20-odd guys turning up to the nets. One week they won’t go in the nets at all. They’ll just do fielding drills and then they’ll work on the mental side of the game.”

Asked what gave him the greatest satisfaction as chairman, he said: “It’s on a Sunday evening when the team[s] have been successful and you’ve got the adult players, you’ve got a lot of the junior players and their parents and we’re all sitting around having a BBQ [for example]. It’s just that sense of it feeling like a club.

“Because at the end of the day that’s what you want. And as chairman, that’s what you set out to create. It’s great that we do well on the field and it’s great that things are in good shape off the field but it’s when those two come together.

“You can have a club that’s very successful on the pitch but the people are not really engaged in the club. They just turn up, play cricket and go home again. And similarly, you can have a club that’s very successful off the pitch, lots of money, a thriving bar but on the field the cricket isn’t, and I’ve been to plenty of those clubs over the years. So it’s when those two come together you actually get the sense of a club,” said Broughton.

In a sense all of the stars have aligned."

Club chairman Julian Broughton

And on the playing side of things, Henderson, who also devotes a lot of time to coaching and player development, said: “We’ve turned it around. We’ve gone from one adult side and four junior teams to four adult sides and 25 junior teams.”

Henderson, who previously captained Walton-on-Thames in the Surrey Championship, explained how he became involved with Chobham.

“I live locally. I was going for a walk, saw a lovely cricket ground and I went and asked about the cricket because my kids were young, so I asked about how many teams there were, who plays here and I put my kids in.

“The ethos of the club has always been to bring youngsters through so we’ve always got a number of teenagers in the 1st XI side. Most of them have come through the colts section from the first team I coached, and they were under-eight’s nine years ago when we started.”

Asked about the start his team has made to this season, Henderson, who has led the 1st XI’s to two successive promotions, said: “We had a bad start. We got rained off first week. Second week we got the worst ever pitch, [against Merstham] got bowled out for 57 which was absolutely horrendous, but we’re hoping to go for another promotion this year.”

Chobham, whose ground is an idyll in the heart of the village, has seen cricket played on it since at least 1844 and former player John Mepham, now in his sixties, told the paper: “I first walked in when I was 11-years-old. You had to be invited in them days and I started by keeping score and I played quite a lot of games for the opposition when they turned out with one man short.”

While former team mate of Mepham and chairman from 2000 until 2003, Dick Medhurst, said of the club: “My family have been associated with it since it was formed. My great grandad, my grandad, my dad, my uncle and my great uncle all played before I did. I started playing when I was 11, so that would be 1963, and I finished in 2008.”

Asked about his own time as chairman, Medhurst, 71, said: “It was probably the proudest I’ve ever been. And it coincided with a really good period which the club was in because they went up into the Surrey Championship when I was chairman. Not that it was a lot to do with me. But we were very successful and we started having overseas players which gave the club a huge boost.”