Monday, 7 May 2018

The Subs Dodger

I am delighted to announce that I am half way through writing my next book. After the success of The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket, there was so much that I missed out that I had to write a Part Two. Therefore I am hoping that The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket will be out in the autumn of this year. With an excellent foreword written by Middlesex wicket keeper, John Simpson the book will take a closer look at the ins and outs of the 900,000 people who play club cricket in the UK. Here we have a leaked chapter from the book and I know that every cricket club in the country will nod their heads and agree with this chapter. Enjoy...

Proactive Treasurers will come and do this...

Throughout the land, from North to South and from Canterbury to Taunton and beyond, there are a group of people who are the scourge of club treasurers. In fact, you could even go as far as saying that the relationship between the Club Treasurer and the Subs Dodger is like Eubank and Benn, Sheringham and Cole, Prost and Senna, Gatting and Shakoor Rana or Ferguson and Wenger as their constant game of cat and mouse is a feature of the summer. On one hand you have people who come up with a plethora of excuses how not to pay, whilst on the other the cricketing equivalent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is aiming to make them pay their way. To say that Gary Barlow and Lewis Hamilton offer to pay their taxes more readily than these people is an understatement.

The Subs Dodgers needs to be split into two sections. Those that dodge their annual subscription and those that run up a few week’s worth of match fees.

Let’s start with the Annuals. A cricket club subscription isn’t huge. At our club it is £100 if paid by June 1st. That’s right; rules have been written into the constitution to make these tightwads pay. After June 1st it goes up to £140. Our Treasurer has even brought in Direct Debits so that people can pay two quid a week to make life easier. It’s really not a lot of money. Compared to Golf Clubs where I believe some annual memberships cost around £1000 upwards this is small fry. Yet trying to get an annual sub is almost impossible. A Treasurer asking a player this question can be met with looks of incredulity as if someone has just asked his sister for an Alabama Crab Dangle (you Google it, I’ve done enough research for this book. Oh and preferably not at work, hey?).

The relations between the Treasurer and Subs Dodger can end up like this

I know of one cricket club where the Chairman confided to me that they have £30,000 worth of debt, who have numerous individuals in their first eleven who do not pay an annual subscription. The experts, whoever they may be, say that running a cricket club is like running a business but surely this is a flawed model even by Carillion standards? If you allow these people to get away with it year after year, then your cricket club is running on a false pretence. It is hollow, it is fake – a straw man, a paper tiger, an Allen Stanford. Your club becomes a Ponzi scheme.

Most cricket clubs do the right thing though and kick these people out. Most individuals are decent people and pay up after the nagging from the Treasurer that makes that from the Mrs seem like a gentle nudge after playing cricket for all three days over a Bank Holiday weekend but occasionally some individuals do get their P45 from clubs.

However, there are certain individuals that flit from club to club in the area, like a club cricketing Peter Stringfellow. In the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League now, the club that a player has left now has to sign a form to say that the player owes no money and he can go and play for his new club, thus living happily ever after. However, if you owe a hundred quid or so to your previous club then the chances of this being signed off are negligible to say the least. This can only be a good thing and stops the merry go round of the annual subs dodger.

Dravid...tight margins

The second category is the weekly match fee dodger.

In this day and age with card machines in most cricket club bars, online banking and being able to transfer money off a mobile phone, these individuals should be as extinct as the dodo, the phoenix and the woolly mammoth, yet they still exist.

How you can turn up for a game of cricket, having played for five, ten or twenty years and not bring any cash with you is bordering on fraud?

The match fee at our club is £11. I think for six or seven hours worth of entertainment this represents excellent value if you compare it to watching a football match for ninety minutes or going to the cinema. Plus you get fed for this – no extras like the cinema where a box of popcorn costs a fiver or a carbonated drink will be close to four quid. This is also fraud but I digress. The eleven quid is split into various sections – a club has to pay for match balls from the league (close to fraud but I won’t get litigious), an umpires fee which is forty notes and a scorer. Throw in a tea which is 40 quid to feed thirteen with your players and a scorer and the gap or margin to work with, is tighter than Rahul Dravid’s bat and pad when he plays a forward defensive.

Again a player who says he is skint, can often negotiate to pay towards the end of the month with an agreement from the Treasurer but you have some who try and dodge this integral part of the summer Saturday. To see the club captain’s face as a young player claims poverty, yet takes a call from his mates saying how he is lined up for a big Saturday night out can often replicate the look on his face as those who drop out on him at 11am on a Saturday morning.

Don't make your Treasurer do this

A Club Captain will hear every excuse under the sun. He will have players in their forties and fifties claiming to be students and thus qualifying for a reduced sub and numerous who claim to be unemployed. The creative excuses of those in cricket clubs with unemployment is the antitheses of the government statistics. Figures may well be manipulated to hide those in zero hours contracts or part time work so that the unemployment rates are shown to be better than they actually are. These have been done by a host of different governments but the opposite applies to club cricket. If those in cricket clubs were to be believed, the national unemployment rate would be near 30%.

Our club captain had a scenario last year with five or six individuals who hadn’t paid at an away game. Having collected £55 in match fees, this gentleman paid the umpire and the scorer and then had to pay the opposition the tea money of £45 out of his own pocket. This left him with not enough money to buy a post match drink, leaving him slightly irate on a thirty degree day. Filling out the match day forms with “To Pay” next to a host of his players meant he had more “Toupees” than Bruce Forsyth, Terry Wogan and Paul Daniels combined.

The cunning match fee dodger will work his way around the rules at every opportunity. With clubs such as mine, implementing rules that anyone who owes three weeks worth of match fees shouldn’t be available for selection, weak captains who are desperate at times like the last weekend of July when the school holidays kick in are forced to pick them so that they can turn out a side. This is how the predatory instinct of the match fee dodger kicks in and how they make life difficult for clubs up and down the country.

Not paying is basically nicking money from your club. As well as making your skipper and Treasurer pull their hair out, it is pure and simply, theft. Why should your team mates all pay and this person doesn’t? Cricket clubs up and down the country survive on tight margins. They have a number of volunteers working behind the scenes trying to make the place better for all concerned. Those who don’t pay are ruining the tireless efforts of the volunteers and like rodents, if left untreated they will make the house fall down.

Do yourself, your club treasurer and your mates a favour and pay up.


  1. £100? Jesus. Rich people only then. Ours is £30.

  2. and £11 match fee? What's wrong with to a fiver for adults with U18s free?

  3. Because we have a 14k rent to pay in London. That's cheap in the area too.

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