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Chairman’s report to the 26th Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 2 November 2005, 11.35am

The 26th Annual General Meeting of the National Stoolball Association (NSA) took place on 3 November 2005.

A testing year

These last 12 months have been a very difficult and testing time for Kay and me as we have tried to balance our commitments to stoolball with those of our family.

We have very much appreciated the help and kindnesses that so many of you, your clubs and leagues have shown to us. It has been a great source of help and encouragement and we thank you for it.

Last season

Generally, all areas enjoyed a very good summer with plenty of sunshine. In West Sussex, rain was so scarce that a hosepipe ban was enforced and the hard hit ball found its way to the boundary very quickly. The rain of the last few weeks should have done much to replenish supplies.

Sport England rejects our bid for recognition

After all the frustrations of dealing with Sport England, we were eventually advised in August that our bid for recognition as a sport had been rejected because it was not a nationally played game.

If our bid does not find recognition as a “regional sport”, then I believe we must concentrate our efforts and resources to ensure that stoolball not only survives as a game, but that it steadily becomes more professional in all that it does.

Real progress


The work of the Rules Working Group showed that there was a very real need to take a careful look at the rules of the game and great strides have been made over a number of meetings.

My thanks to Richard Emsley and all those people who helped the working group to achieve a positive result. In future, we shall aim to review the rules every three years, so that we stay closely in touch with everything that is changing or developing in the game.


Incredibly we have now sold almost all the 200 ‘Let’s Play Stoolball’ videos which we produced just over a year ago. As well as getting further supplies of this video, we have just commissioned the production of a further video which will be devoted entirely to coaching the game of stoolball and will be aimed at schools and clubs.

Melissa Mantle and Karen Chapman, both from Angmering, have written the script for the video and will be running this project. Coaching Solutions Ltd, which did such an excellent job for us last time, will produce the video. My thanks to Melissa and Karen for all they have done for us thus far.


Under the chairmanship of Peter Cheesman, our Treasurer, the Membership Working Group came up with recommendations that we believe are sensible and acceptable to everyone and I hope you will support the proposed changes at the AGM. My thanks to Peter and his six fellow members for their carefully considered work.

Insurance and Child Protection

Under the guidance of Richard Emsley, the NSA introduced Civil Liability Insurance this year as an add-on to the existing Public Liability Insurance.

As a sport, we were becoming increasingly aware that, in this age of litigation, we needed to protect ourselves in a way which had not been considered necessary before. It is a particularly welcome addition for our umpires who were beginning to feel very pressured and vulnerable.

However, there is always a down side, and for us it was discovering that Royal & Sun Alliance required a child protection policy as a prerequisite of ensuring cover. Up until then, no one had mentioned this document and the NSA (or rather Kay) had to generate a child protection policy in double-quick time.

This involved contacting the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR) and going over a number of details with them. Being referred to the NSPCC and then travelling up to Leicester to go through the draft document with their expert. As you can see, it has not been a smooth ride, but your officers have worked very hard to see this project through to fruition and I thank everyone for the contributions they have made.

A by-product of all this important work is that all clubs, leagues and associations will be required to have their own child protection policies in place with a person designated for its overall responsibility.

At first sight this may sound a big ask, but we hare planning to cover this subject very fully at our next convention in March. Also with the approval of this document, we will be able to register with the CCPR and consequently handle requests for Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) enhanced checks.

NSA Website

Richard Emsley has done sterling work in keeping so many jobs afloat for the NSA and, in particular, the NSA website which has brought many interesting enquiries from as far a-field as India and France, and we have had several emails from David Grantham who lives in New Zealand, a grandson of the legendary Major.

During the last year, Rick Mason, who plays mixed stoolball for Maresfield, has spent a great deal of time re-designing our website and you will shortly be able to see the results of his endeavours. It is intended that the new website will be launched by the end of the year.

I am pleased to see that the number of clubs who now have their own pages on the web is steadily growing and I urge all clubs to avail themselves of this opportunity to publicise the virtues of their club. Well done.


Shirley Reed has done much helpful work as my Vice-Chairman, but in particular, she single-handedly continues to produce and edit the NSA Newsletter. I would like to see much more reaction to this excellent paper and I am wondering if it is really getting to everybody at club level.

We have now run two competitions for photographs of club grounds for calendars and the origins of the NSA logo, and so far, there has not been one response, which is very disappointing.

In the new year we shall be asking all clubs/leagues etc to let us have full details of a club contact, address, telephone numbers, email addresses etc. With all this information available, the NSA is hoping to re-introduce the club directory which Richard Emsley generated back in the early 1990’s when he was Secretary of the NSA.

Coaching and Sweatshirts

In this year of very real progress for the NSA, the coaching programme carried out by Melissa Mantle has continued with great thrust. Those passing at Level 1 not only get their pass certificate, but also the ‘Let’s Play Stoolball’ video for their fee.

In addition, they now have the opportunity to purchase for £15 the new NSA navy blue sweatshirt for those newly qualified. Since this scheme started, Melissa has produced over 200 qualified stoolball coaches.

This year, in addition to her activities at University College, Chichester, Melissa has also carried out stoolball coaching duties at a school in Peacehaven, assisted by her niece Connie Chapman. Projects organised for Tunbridge Wells and Storrington unfortunately never achieved lift-off.

However, she has a very interesting project in the spring, when she will be visiting the Duke of Richmond & March’s Goodwood Estate to help them start a new stoolball team.

In addition to all this activity, Melissa also found time to write an article entitled ‘Striking and Fielding – The Purpose of stoolball in Schools’ which appeared in the autumn edition of ‘The British Journal of Teaching Physical Education’.

This article did much to bring stoolball to the attention of PE teachers. On the back of this article, we took advertising space for our ‘Let’s Play Stoolball’ video and have received orders from Schools in areas not normally associated with the game. It is most encouraging.

Enthusiasm and Vitality

The achievements and progress made in the many areas listed above demonstrates the enthusiasm and vitality of all the NSA Officers and I am deeply grateful to all of them. Our President, Rosemary Hobbs continues to observe and encourage all our work with positive support which is always appreciated.

I am greatly encouraged that with the arrival of Gwyn Griffith from Surrey on the Committee and Rick Mason volunteering to take on the NSA website, we are slowly but surely getting people to help share the workload of running a Governing Body of sport.

We need this process to continue and I am pleased by the number of people who have served on the various working parties – it certainly bodes well for the future.

Convention 2006

We had intended to run a convention again this year but for all sorts of reasons, it quickly became evident that it would be much wiser to wait until 2006. The date has been confirmed for Sunday 12 March and will once again be at the Wivelsfield Green Village Hall which is just south of Haywards Heath.

We shall be covering rules, child protection and any other subject where discussion would be appreciated. If you have a subject that you would like to be aired, please let Kay Price (01403 252419) know about it.

Olympics 2012

We are quickly learning that the 2012 Olympic Games in London will bring international interest for many things other than the games itself. Already we have had two enquiries from heritage type organisations enquiring if we have a museum or collection of stoolball memorabilia.

Apparently the Government (or someone acting on its behalf) is producing a listing of all sporting museums and collections of sporting memorabilia in readiness for 2012. The Barbican Museum at Lewes and the work of the NSA in this area will stand us all in very good stead.

Don’t forget, if you have photos, bats, balls, wickets, scorebooks, smock or anything that is old and connected with the game to let me know about it (01403 252419).

‘A load of old balls’

About six months ago, two people from a company called Malavan Media contacted us to enquire if they could talk to us about old stoolball equipment, as they had been commissioned by English Heritage to produce a poster about equipment used in ancient games (Sport England, please note).

When Simon Inglis and his wife Jackie arrived, it transpired that what was going to be a poster on equipment was now going to be a book on old balls. We were able to produce a number of balls over 80 years old which Plumpton Stoolball Club had kindly given to the NSA.

A photo of one of those balls is now featured in a book entitled ‘A Load of Old Balls’. This very collectable book was published on 1 November 2005 and is a must for anybody proud of the game of stoolball.

The years ahead and your contribution

Little by little, we are trying to create a framework so that the workload connected with running the National Stoolball Association is more evenly shared. I am confident that the seeds that are being sewn now to bring a more business-like approach to all that we do will gradually widen the appeal of our game.

I have seen and admired a large number of people who demonstrate knowledge and enthusiasm and a desire to contribute to the running and development of our game. Several have shown that they are willing to help and have made valuable contributions already. Are you ready to step forward?

John Price, Chairman, 3 November 2005

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