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03-07-2013, 13:22
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The published piece on cricketyorkshire can be found here*http://www.cricketyorkshire.com/ramfest/
The British summer is not the kindest mistress in the world and when the entire reason for a clubs existence depends upon there being a dry weekend to allow 22 players to take turns hitting a small leather ball on a pitch which has been in preparation all week, rain can literally put a dampener on things. *However disappointed players and management of club are when a game is cancelled, what is more important is the loss of income at the bar from players and the spectators.
Organised league cricket would not be your first choice if you wanted a low cost way to entertain yourself. **First, you need space and plenty of it. *Over the last 30 years competition for land has increased with house builders and retailers looking for development plots. *If you were to set up a club today, you would be to have deep pockets, a benefactor willing to donate / sell well below market price or rent the land. **Factor in the scoring box, regulation sized pitch, substantial groundsmans shed, clubhouse with umpires rooms, two dressing rooms, facilities to provide a full afternoon tea to 30 people and a bar and the costs mount. *When you add in the equipment needed preparing a good playing surface and related maintenance, you can burn a lot of money in short time.
In sport you can raise money for running costs in a several ways, playing and membership fees, hosting third party events, income from beer and food sales, gate takings and sponsorship. *At Southowram we are lucky enough to have several good long term sponsors, but you can only ask so much. *The membership and playing fees provide regular income, but it is the bar takings from games and functions which really keep the club operating at a surplus.
At Southowram Cricket Club, we were offered the site of an old rubbish tip in the late 1970s which had been developed as a quarry by Marshalls, our neighbours. *As such there were restrictions on any usage for commercial purposes. *For many years we paid a peppercorn rent, but in 2007 we were offered the chance to buy the land for £25,000. *There was unqualified support within the club, but it still took 3 years to raise the funds and the ground finally became ours in 2010.
This fundraising was made even harder with the recession starting and the reduced weekend takings in the bar made the balance of routine running costs and fundraising a hard one for the committee. *The important additional income was partially generated from hosting parties and sporting dinners. *To allow more people to attend these events upgrades were needed on the clubhouse to increase the bar size and install a catering kitchen, necessitating an extension to the clubhouse. *These costs sucked up every penny which entered the clubs accounts and in early 2010 the groundsman Gordon Scott suggested we hold a music festival to raise money for the club and local charities.
The first year was by this years organisational standards amateur, eg; the program and posters were printed discretely on various work printers over the month of May where we use printing houses now. *We had to learn as we faced each new challenge. *Club members outside of the small organising committee of a handful of people chipped in lending us amplifiers, BBQ’s and tents, erecting a stage roof, building an outside bar plus 101 other jobs. *The first Ramfest line up was Paddy McCallion, Forever Young, My Brother Jake, Vegas Elvis and the McCarrons. *Three of the original acts are still ever present up to and including this years festival.
Mistakes were made both in planning and on the day, but this was the first time for all of us, none were major and could be easily rectified. *The first Ramfest in 2010 had 700 people attend and raised valuable funds for the club which paid for essential work on the ground over winter. *The charity for that year Parkinson UK received over £500 in donations. *The success on the day ensured that Ramfest would get a sequel. **Still with the same core organising team the following year, we added 2 more members to spread the workload. *My Brother Jake, Paddy McCallion, The McCarrons and Vegas Elvis returned and were joined by The Reflections and Mike Raffone and the Bluetones. *The charities benefiting in 2011 were the Charles Sykes Epilepsy Research Trust and Cerebral Palsy.
The organisation was more professional this time with printing being handled by an professional company (which still takes up a significant proportion of the upfront operating budget today) and mistakes from the first festival being addressed. *Someone out there must have made a sacrifice to the gods because we got the perfect day, clear skies and temperatures in the mid 20’s. *We had planned for an increase of several hundred regarding crowd numbers, but we were left totally overwhelmed by the unexpected crowds which left us recycling programs, running out of beer and food well before planned.and keeping things going by the skin of our teeth.
2011 was the year the really made the festival and secured its future. *The charities made £1500 between them and the club made enough money to cover both ongoing maintenance costs and out of season expenses. *This is important as during the off season the club only had 2 chances a week (Tuesday night and Sunday afternoon) to take money at the bar excluding private functions. *The ongoing recession meant that the takings on Sundays were declining, something which would see the eventual decision being made to only open on the first Sunday of the month in the 2012-2013 close season whilst maintaining the Tuesday night session which had enjoyed a solid level of custom.
If 2011 made us, then 2012 could have nearly broke us. *Planning for a similar experience as the previous year, we footed a lot of costs up front scaling up the beer and food stocks as well as increasing the toilet provision, we also had the increased costs of printing more programs for the anticipated numbers after running out the previous year. *We were spared major costs by local supporters of the club including The Cock and Bottle pub who donated a bar and the then chairman Ian Uttley who arranged for a professional sound set complete with engineers at very little cost to the club.
However the same weather gods who looked after us in 2011 were in a bad mood in 2012. *The week before the festival the weather was constant rain and the pitch was at risk of being unusable. *The forecast was meant equipment was at water damage risk and there were several meetings in the days before regarding cancellation of the event including one 2 hours before the scheduled start. *However the rain stopped just before 12 noon and left us with a coolish overcast day with occasional showers. *A 600 strong loyal crowd turned up to see Fogfield join the cast of the 2011 festival (Reflections now becoming Chris and Lucy and While the Cats Away, Vegas Elvis being absent due to other commitments).
*Forget Me Not and HomeStart were the chosen charities and despite the late break in weather we still made enough profit to give a small donation to the two charities of £250 each and put some money back into the club. *This money was crucial as 2012 was a disastrous year for the club cricket with the continuous rain cancelling much of the season and leaving shortfalls in our projected income. *The money raised kept the club afloat in the 2012 – 2013 close season. *Club cricket can be sometimes balance on such a knife edge.
Having been established for 4 years we are now in a position where we can raise sponsorship to cover 80% of the costs of putting the festival on and risk a total cancellation without putting the club in danger. *A loyal band of supporters, volunteers, an increased organising committee and donations of equipment and services mean we can hopefully raise a lot of money for the club and this years selected charities Help for Heroes and Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Please come and attend Ramfest 4 at Southowram Cricket Club on Sunday 7th July, you can find more information at http://www.facebook.com/ramfest2013. *You are guaranteed a good time, food and beer. *Entry is £5 per adult and kids are free, the bands this year are While the Cats Away, My Brother Jake, Oblivion, RoxOff, Fork Handles, McCarrons and Tempus. *Draught and can bars and BBQ food will be available all day and for the kids there will be ice creams and bouncy castles as well as other entertainment.

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