It is one of those glorious May evenings but you could cut the tension with a knife. You have made it this far, the business end of the season. Nerves jangle as the participants brace themselves for the upcoming proceedings which will go on until the man in the middle calls time. There will as always be winners and losers. Nervous glances are shared. Heavy breaths are drawn; chests tighten as time seems to have temporarily stood still. Yes that’s right; it’s your Rugby Club’s AGM.
With the quorum present the Chairman kicks things off. The Secretary reads out the minutes of the last AGM which in spite of the presence of so many self proclaimed revolutionaries could be from any one of the last twenty years. The various officers then give their accounts from their respective organisational spheres. The Social Officer is lavishly praised from the floor by those who “secretly” were planning a coup for his position but backed out when they realised they were not going to gain the necessary support. The Grounds Officer pleads for money to invest in the pitches and it is agreed that this will be considered by the new committee. And so it goes until the Captain’s Reports. The Thirds’ captain reports that while they only won two games there was a great spirit in the team and all boded well for next year. Applause all round. The Seconds’ captain stated that while they had a poor start to the season they more or less turned things around after Christmas by winnings nearly half of their games. Young players, by which he meant the three lads in the side who are under 30, were coming through and should be challenging for the first team next season. Applause all round.
The Firsts’ team captain stands up. His uncle was the Club captain in their last successful era back in the early 90s which ensures that the older generation still regard it as a big club and anything less than 100% success is seen as failure. In spite of a high injury toll and players being poached, the team still managed to come second in the league and made the semi final of the cup and he was glad to take on the role again next season. Muted applause with some choosing to keep their arms folded, among them the captains’s uncle.
Election of Officers is next up which is essentially a very well attired game of musical chairs without the music which is why there is no end in sight. The election of committee members from the floor sees a number of different physical reactions. Those who want to be elected sit upright making sure they are seen while others; typically the younger members are squirming, trying desperately to make themselves invisible lest they be asked to “do their bit for the club”. Spare a thought for the outgoing Underage Officer who had delivered an impeccably rehearsed speech, probably written by his wife about family and work commitments in his quest for freedom only to be suffer a fatal lapse in concentration at the crucial moment and now slumps back in his seat to contemplate attending fortnightly meetings for the next 12 months. The Club Critic is duly proposed. Everyone knows he will say no but there is a sizeable wager going on what well trotted out excuse he will use this year. Upcoming hip replacement surgery ensures that no money changes hands as well as one or two embarrassed glances.
With all the players in place for next season there is the dreaded “Any Other Business “(A.O.B). Issues here can range from the cost of toilet paper to the cost of a coach and relative to the individual both subjects are of grave importance. Some say the teams need more selectors, the coach says he needs more players. The same beleaguered coach is ignoring some great players on the Thirds. If they’re that good why aren’t they on the Seconds? Who is going to cut the pitches this year and how much are we willing to pay them? Why haven’t we paid them for last year? The implementation of 5 year plans. Or more pertinently the drawing up of 5 year plans which has been in the pipeline for roughly about 5 years.
This is probably the only occasion in the season when all these people are in the same room and their collective passion has you saying quietly to yourself that maybe this year will be different. Reality is not long setting in however and it is at this point that the cynics among us see the 9pm start time as a deliberate tactic. It is past midnight and those who really are striving for change are getting wearisome and just haven’t got the energy to battle on while the status quoers agree that all these issues are important and will of course be taken under review by the incoming committee. You leave knowing that the next year will vary little from the one just past and what’s more you know you’ll be back here again on another glorious evening in May.