Relegated Papplewick and Linby have “nothing to be ashamed of”, despite losing their status as one of the elite 12 cricket clubs in the county.
So said City businessman Michael Secretan, the club’s guru and benefactor, this week after Papplewick’s disastrous summer in the Notts Premier League (NPL).
Secretan stressed that Papplewick had been swamped by “a tidal wave of bad luck”, which had contributed towards their drop back to the Bassetlaw League.
And, although he had decided to step down as chairman, he insisted this would have no detrimental effect on the club’s finances.
Secretan (39) has steered the Papplewick ship for eight years and helped to bankroll a host of star name signings, including ex-Test players Phil DeFreitas, Stuart Law, Dean Headley and Zulqarnain Haider.
But since former England all-rounder DeFreitas left the club in 2011, after five years in which they mounted serious challenges for the NPL title, they have struggled. And their toils came to a head this summer when a remarkable sequence of misfortune conspired against them and left them rock-bottom of the table at the end of the season with only two wins from 22 matches
Papplewick lined up exciting and experienced New Zealand international batsman Lou Vincent as their overseas signing. But he had to quit before he’d even put his pads on because of domestic issues.
Next, leading run-getter Alex Lloyd broke his thumb halfway through the season after he had scored 514 runs in 12 innings at an average of 42.83.
And then another pro, ex-England batsman Mal Loye, who signed for the second half of the season, broke his thumb, too, while fielding in only his second match.
All this played out to a background of Secretan needing to devote less time to the club because of his work commitments and also needing to deal with his own personal problems.
“My mother died a week before the season started,” explained Secretan. “And then we lost Lou Vincent.
“I wasn’t in a position, time-wise, to help find a replacement for our early-season games. And in many of those games, we were just one player short of winning them.
“Then we lost Alex Lloyd and Mal Loye. It was a tidal wave of bad luck. You couldn’t have scripted it.
“The club is still in a fine state and has nothing to be ashamed of. We continue to consistently invest in our facilities, which are among the best in the county.
“For every penny we might have spent on players, we have put another penny into our facilities.
“This club has been around for more than 100 years. Of course, we wish we hadn’t been relegated, but circumstances dictated it.
“With the luck we had, we soon realised that 2013 wasn’t meant to be. But there is no point crying about it. We just have to get on to our next challenge.
“We will be doing our best to get back into the NPL, but at the same time, we have to be realistic and wait for our next crop of youngsters to come through.”
Investing in a structured coaching set-up that ensures the development of youngsters is likely to be at the heart of Papplewick’s recovery.
This will spark claims that they can no longer compete with the mercenary moneybags approach of many clubs in the NPL. But Secretan insists that Papplewick won’t throw ‘silly money’ at resurrecting their on-field fortunes -- an accusation that has been levelled at high-flying Hucknall rivals, Rolls-Royce Leisure.
“Nothing has gone wrong here,” he said. “It’s just that we haven’t spent the kind of money on players that other clubs have spent. But I don’t understand why they do it. It’s not as if you get prize money for winning the title. Some clubs seem to do it just for the hell of it, to satisfy egos maybe. It puzzles me.
“The most pleasing thing about this season has been West Indian Cavaliers winning the national club championship. That was fantastic.
“What happens on a national scale matters most because that raises the profile of the league across the country.”
Secretan is to step down to vice-chairman at Papplewick because of the increasing pull of his business interests in London where he also lives.
“It doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t fair, to carry on,” he said.
“I love the club, and I have been involved since I was a kid. But I can’t be there in a day-to-day role and give the commitment that is necessary.”
Stepping into his shoes will be respected club official and veteran player Neil South. And Secretan says the pair will be working hard in tandem to improve Papplewick’s squad for next season.
Top of their shopping list could be a high-profile player/coach to fill the void that DeFreitas has left. Given that the club’s second and third teams have also endured poor seasons, it’s a void that seems to have had a debilitating effect throughout the club, not just on the NPL side.
“There is no doubt that a Phil DeFreitas or John Birch-type character at the top drives the club forward,” said Secretan. “And that tends to snowball, creating a positive attitude and atmosphere in all teams.
“When you lose the figurehead, you don’t have that. Now we have to get cracking again. We want to be back as soon as we can.”