As the day dawns on his first home game as Surrey CCC Chief Executive, Steve Elworthy welcomes Members back to The Kia Oval for another exciting summer of cricket.
I’ve been looking forward to this moment ever since that cold January morning when I first walked through the gate of The Kia Oval as Surrey’s new Chief Executive. It seemed a long way off then, but we are finally here, and I couldn’t be more excited.
The last three and a bit months have been amongst the most rewarding of my working life. They have been everything I expected and a huge amount more. Understanding how this place runs has been absolutely fascinating; meeting the people around the Club exciting and seeing the team preparing for the season has taken me right back to my own days of ‘warming up’ for the summer during freezing cold friendlies!
However, until today I’ve only had the opportunity to meet a tiny number of Members, at the consultation events we ran and then at the recent lunch we held for Members and Sponsors. To see thousands of you pouring through the gates this morning will really signify the start of something, both for me personally and for the Club as whole.
One thing that has constantly struck me over the last few months is that Clubs like this really are the constituent parts of the people that give their time, passion and soul to really make them what they are.
People like our Chair, Richard Thompson, who has been around Surrey since he was a teenager and has spent the last decade volunteering his time to help the Club hit new heights in terms of commercial numbers and Membership.
People like Ebony Rainford-Brent, who grew up just up the road in Loughborough Junction, started playing for Surrey as a young girl and went onto to be the first Black woman to play for England. She is now a Director of the Club, chairs our new Culture and Values Board, broadcasts for Sky and the BBC and is Chair of the ground breaking ACE Programme.
People like Dave Gangadeen, who has worked at the Club since the days before we even had a website! A key part of our security team, the warmth of welcome our staff get from Dave every day is what we’re seeking to replicate for every Member and fan who comes to the ground to watch cricket.
The best thing about the last three months is that I could go on and on and on, writing about hundreds of different folks who’ve already made a big impact on me. I’ve met multitudes of amazing people and the one thing that binds them all together is their dedication and love for Surrey and this ground.
And throughout all of this, I’ve looked forward to today the most. To really start meeting the people that call this ground home. Members that have been coming for over 70 years to brand new Members who are walking through the Hobbs Gates into their Club for the first ever time this morning.
I will certainly aim to not be a stranger. If you see me walking around the place, please feel free to stop, introduce yourself and let me know your thoughts on the Club. What do you love about this place? How can we do things better? How many of your mates have you introduced Surrey to over the years? What are your hopes for this summer?
There will be plenty of Members Forums over the course of the summer where we can discuss things as a group, but I’m really keen to be constantly listening, in all ways I can.
For those of you attending our first Pride of Lions Day of the season, I hope you have a wonderful time. I know our Membership team have put a lot of hard work into it and we want our young Members to come out of it inspired to do more in the game this summer – be that playing or watching.
As a player I always loved the start of a new season – and as Chief Executive it is no different. This summer our men’s team have home matches in the LV= County Championship, the Vitality Blast, the Royal London One Day Cup and a pair of games against the Sri Lanka Development XI.
Our women’s team host match days in the Vitality County T20, the London Championship and the London Cup.
And many, many more Surrey teams will take to the field to represent the Club throughout the summer, playing all over Surrey and south London. These will include our Disability XI, defending their national title; from U8 to U18s, there will be multiple County Age Group teams in boys and girls cricket and also a large number of teams in 50, 60 and 70+ cricket.
On the world stage we have a One Day International between England and India and the big one, a Test Match between England and South Africa. We also have Oval Invincibles matches in The Hundred and South East Stars games in the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup. It’s a lot of cricket to look forward to!
I hope you’re all as excited as me. Bring on 11am!