BSUK Club Spotlight: Maidenhead Softball Club

Mon 13 Nov 2017

By Luke Stott

In the latest BSUK Club Spotlight, Maidenhead Softball Club tell us about their history, the volunteers that support the club and their vision for the future of softball in a town just outside London.

“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.  Shakespeare was on to something.  Names are tricky things to get right: just ask any parent. 

But it can be even trickier to name a club because there are just so many things to consider.  A name can be used to announce your intentions, or where you’re from, or something else that defines the club as separate from others.  For sure, nomenclature can be tricky -- but it’s something that Maidenhead Softball club has down to an art.

From their beginnings in 1980s corporate softball, as the team from accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, the team moved on to the ‘Rhythm’ moniker years of the Nineties and Naughties, and finally to the Royals, the name their first team has played under since 2010. 

And while the names might have changed, the ethos hasn’t, with the club growing steadily and now boasting a playing roster of around 50, with another dozen in its satellite club.

Finding playing time for all these members can be a difficult task, but between entering slowpitch tournaments across the country and fielding three teams in the Windsor and Maidenhead Softball league, the club manages to cater for all.

And there’s recently been some exciting news.  The club’s training venue at the North Maidenhead Cricket Club has recently become a community-led venture, with the current owner signing over a 50-year lease to Summerleaze Community Sports Interest Company.  In addition to a likely name-change, the change in management should allow the club to develop its facilities still further, including a permanent backstop and dugouts.

In its long history, the Maidenhead Softball Club has had several highlights on the field, such as winning the Diamond Series C-grade competition and the British Airways C-Grade Cup in 2015, and a BSF national title collected in 2012.  That was the same year the club was awarded off the field too, scooping the BSF Club of the Year gong as well as Clubmark accreditation a year later.

Maintenance and leadership of a club of this size is rarely the preserve of one individual and Maidenhead has relied on a host of dedicated volunteers throughout their history.  These include people like Julia Barlow, who serves nominally as the club’s Safeguarding Officer but also takes the lead on items such as designing, ordering and distributing playing uniforms and managing kit requests for the many members.  There are also people like Adrienne Elly who, while being the longest-serving member of the club, is also the Treasurer; and Brian Moores, a former club Chair, who now volunteers in any capacity needed.

As the club has grown, so too has its involvement with BSUK.

“Our relationship with BSUK has grown rapidly over the last five years,” says current Chair Alan Le Marquand.  “We have a strong tie with Patrick Knock [BSUK’s South East Development Manager] and we chat on a semi-regular basis.  We’ve also developed ties with Jo Malisani [BSUK’s Fastpitch Development Manager] for development projects and we’ve worked on schools projects together and will do so again very soon.  I see those ties strengthening.

“Patrick is currently helping us through re-certification for Clubmark under the new structure.  This is helping us become a better-run organisation.”

So where does Alan see the club a year from now?

“What I’d like to be talking about this time next year is how we started up a men’s slowpitch team that entered the Single-Sex Nationals and did well.  I’d also like to see us run a fastpitch team, either female or mixed, and have entered the Great Britain Fastpitch League.  I would like to establish more relationships with the local schools and have that result in a bigger youth programme.”

One thing’s for sure -- with all those new teams, the softballers in Maidenhead will have to think of a few more names…

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