A Brief Club History

The Origins

 

Football was first played in Thorncombe before the Second World War and the team were at that time called Thorncombe Rangers. During the war sporting activities in the village ceased. However, at the conclusion of hostilities and when the young men returned home football started up again in 1948. This time dropping the suffix of "Rangers" the team has been competing in the Perry Street and District Football League ever since.

The Cricket Club, started in the mid 1950's (although the game was played on a ad hoc friendly basis before that time) and its most successful period was probably in the late 1970's when the team were playing in the Somerset League Division Two.

Prior to 1967, these teams revolved around and were selected in the White Lion, High Street, Thorncombe. The White Lion was the last surviving Public House in the village and then disaster struck. The brewery announced the closure of the pub.

 

Where would the teams be selected?.

 

Where would the players meet and socialize?.

 

The answer came in the guise of the Cricket Club Secretary and Village School Headmaster, Alan Jordon. He came up with the idea that the Football and Cricket Clubs should pool their resources and form a Sports Club.

 

It was often said that the footballers had the money and the cricketers had the brains!. To start with the footballers resisted the Cricket Club's approach, after all it was their money that was to be put at risk. Eventually, resistance to the idea waned and both clubs pooled their resources to move forward with the project.

 

Commander W.J.Eyre of Sadborow Estate generously offered to lease five and one third of an acre of his land in Horseshoe Lane for the sports field at a fee of just £1 per year; by 1970 the existing sport factions merged and Thorncombe Sports Club was formed. By 1971 a clubhouse and changing rooms were built and the sports funding source was established.

 

The Need For Change

 

In 1987 Commander W.J.Eyre died and the estate was in the hands of his executers. The Management Committee of the Club were advised that our lease would change to a "commercial rent". This would have been unsustainable and should this route have been taken the club would have soon closed and the sport come to an end. Something else had to be done so enquiry's were made to the executers about purchasing the land. The answer came back "Yes", but at a cost of £10,000. We applied for a grant (50% was the going rate in those days), but the application failed due to the fact that our account showed that we had a balance of this amount at the time. We were operating the business of the club so much of that funding was committed to the liabilities that such a business would have.

 

What were we to do?.

 

To buy the field would leave us in debt, but not to buy would close the club and stop the sport. Our suppliers, Bass Charrington, offered to help with a loan, but being tied into them as a sole supplier severely cut our margins and profitability. We had no choice, the loan was accepted and the field purchased. Constant efforts on behalf of the committee eventually paid off this loan and freed the club from the restrictions of trading with a sole supplier.

 

By 1988 the Club's function room was added. Adding additional facilities for improving profits and sports funding, this facility provided the club with the opportunity for indoor functions for the first time at the club included a skittle alley and this ancient and traditional sport was soon in full swing.

 

During the mid nineties Thorncombe was changing, the village was part of the governments Rural Development initiative and new people were coming to the village. To maintain our objective of being inclusive for all the name of the club change to Thorncombe Sports & Social Club in order to encourage the inclusion, participation and involvement of the new community inhabitants, it did work and new talent and enthusiasm was injected into to club.

 

Enquiries were made for a tennis court at the club. All agencies were involved and the representative from Dorset County Council encouraged the move towards the provision of a Multi Games Area (MUGA) for the purpose. The cost would be much higher, but it was explained that Sport England (via National Lottery funding) were making awards of 80% of project cost at the time and with other available grant funding available the cost of this would be attainable. At the time the field was in use by three football teams and with the possible introduction of additional sports changing facilities would be an issues. By going down this route plans and surveys had to be professionally carried out, qualified sports coaching had to be investigated and a business plan formulated to ensure the facility could be maintained after construction.

 

By the time the club was ready to move forward, two qualified tennis coaches were committed to the furtherance of the project after completion, plans and surveys were commissioned and completed at a cost of almost £6,000 and the business plan for increase use of the existing facilities were in place. Representatives of the council, the club and Sport England (a gentleman all the way from Liverpool) met to move the plan forward. To our horror the Sport England representative said no to much of the plans!.

 

Only about 50% of the project would be eligible making this effort and work unachievable. The project as proposed could not move forward. However, the club had in place enough funding to move ahead with the necessary changes to the existing club infrastructure to include existing changing room refurbishment, new games room including a second skittle alley, installation of new toilet facilities (including disabled facilities) and changes to the club's bar and cellar.

 

This just about use the reserves at the time and the cost was supplemented with a £1,000 council grant. The only grant aided improvement that the club has received in its history. In 1999 the new improved facilities were formally opened by The Rt.Hon.Oliver Letwin M.P.

 

A few years later the club members room was extended to provide an annex to the bar that would give a more relaxing area for members, provide better small meeting facilities for the community as a whole and give an area where vision of the sports field would be improved for spectators not able to view from the outside. Again none of this was grant aided, but totally self funded by the community and club members.

 

The Club Today - Thorncombe Sports & Social Club has on average over 350 members rejoining each year. It has Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) status with over 54% of its membership participating in CASC listed sports and activities. Bordering on the counties of Devon and Somerset it still attracts over 60% of its membership from Dorset most of whom are from the parish of Thorncombe. It currently has two football teams, a cricket team (involving both male and female participation), ten league skittle teams (Ladies and Gents), table skittle and darts teams. It also runs "in house" competitions in these sports providing the opportunity for the wider sections of the club to participate. In addition to the sporting activities it is also a venue for the social and recreational needs of the community.