The offer - what you get, and what you pay
We offer membership of a small, friendly club - we try to take our league matches reasonably seriously, especially in the 9-a-side league, but we also try to stick with the original spirit of the 6-a-side league to use it to introduce newer players to competitive play in as relaxed and supportive a way as we can. If people want to play competitively at weekends, we will try to get them established with playing partners if necessary, preferably from inside the club but otherwise from amongst our other friends on the "circuit." For anyone who wants to come and give the game a try, we have some spare sets of boules available until they have decided if they want to take it up (but its best to contact one of us before you turn up so that someone can bring a spare set along for you!).
Our terrain is an excellent one for beginners, since you can start to get reasonable results fairly quickly although, as with all sports, better play demands time, patience, determination and practice! We try to offer some advice on the technicalities and tactics of the game, as and when people want to know.
Our friends in Millbrook RFC provide a cheap and reasonably-stocked bar in the clubhouse, as well as a convivial and sometimes boisterous atmosphere!
We run three internal club competitions in the year - a singles championship and a doubles championship, in which the preliminary knockout rounds are played during the summer, with the semi-finals and finals of both championships on a Sunday in the autumn; plus the Bernay Cup Mêlée on May Bank Holiday Monday, which is a fun day when you get to play with and against everyone else in the club.
We try as hard as we can to sustain a twinning relationship with Bernay in Normandy, which is wonderful when we can get it together! We are exploring other options in case this lapses.
We have an AGM in November each year for the formalities, but otherwise all club business is kept as informal as possible. And we have a Christmas Dinner, which includes the annual prizegiving!
The annual subscription is currently £48 for adults and £28 for juniors. This includes £20 for SCPC, to pay for first time purchase of club kit for new members, for the terrain hire and for the prizes for the competitions (junior members would not pay this); £10 to Millbrook RFC for associate membership which gives us access to the clubhouse; and the BPA licence fee which is currently £18. There are people who query the value of this licence fee, but as far as we are concerned it is a valuable and necessary investment - valuable, because it provides insurance cover against claims for damage that you might do with your heavy steel boules, and necessary because without it you cannot play in BPA or regional competitions and league matches. It also makes you part of the 600,000-strong international fraternity of registered players of our lovely game!
In addition, people selected to play in league matches are asked either for a match fee of £1 or to make the sandwiches that we provide for the two teams at the end of the evening; the sandwich-maker receives the match fees of everyone else!
If you want to start playing in weekend competitions, these will typically cost around £3 to £4 per person for a day's play, usually on Sundays.
When and if you decide you want to start playing regularly, you'll need to buy your own set of competition boules (not "dog boules") and probably a bag to carry them in and a couple of cochonnets (see Suppliers), which in total will set you back somewhere in the region of £80.