Chief Executive Jim Cumbes retires today after 25 years at Old Trafford, and gave his final thoughts on his time at Lancashire
Well, fifty years after I first joined Lancashire County Cricket Club as a young professional cricketer, I am retiring as Chief Executive. If anyone had told me back in 1962 that my career would embrace professional cricket, professional football, commercial management, and finally the big “cheese”, at the club I had just joined, I would have looked at them as though they had just arrived from another planet! Sometimes I have to tell myself it is true!
After five very happy and successful years as Warwickshire’s first Commercial Manager, I returned to the county of my birth in a similar role. I was at first reluctant to leave the Midlands, but realised that Lancashire were without doubt the most prestigious cricket club in the country, and represented another challenge.
So in the last 25 years here, what has been my most satisfactory achievement? Undoubtedly the proudest moment was my first AGM as Chief Executive in 1999. I was to guide the President through his first AGM, so was seated next to him. The President was my schoolboy hero in cricket, Brian Statham, and I thought “it doesn’t get any better than this”!
In terms of achievements and satisfaction, I think sowing the seeds of redevelopment all those years ago in 2003, and then seeing it through with everyone else associated at the club has probably given me the most satisfaction. At no stage was that process easy, and at times the difficulties almost overwhelmed us, but everyone stuck at it, from our collaboration partners – ASK Developments, Trafford Council and Tesco plc – to every member of staff and the Board. We had no alternative. There was no plan “B”. The planning challenges have been well documented, and there were many sleepless nights wondering how we were going to get over the next hurdle, and indeed would it ever end? The cost in terms of time and money was monumental, but to see everything coming together now as planned, gives everyone a great sense of satisfaction.
The effort put in by those on the Board – in particular Michael Cairns, David Hodgkiss, Bill Ainscough and Geoffrey Shindler – never wavered. Trafford Council too were brilliant in their support, as they saw this as a great catalyst for redevelopment in what was a very run-down area of the Borough.
I have saved my final thanks though to the wonderful support I have received from all the staff over the years I have been here. They have been through some pretty hard times here in the last few years – like a lot of people have – but never wavered in their dedication to the Club. I don’t like singling out individuals, but it would be very remiss of me if I didn’t also give a huge thank you to the three Directors, Geoff Durbin, Lee Morgan and Mike Watkinson, who have worked above and beyond the call of duty in the time they have spent and the tasks they have undertaken in the cause of getting us through these last few years, and finally securing the future of this wonderful Club.
That future is now looking very bright, and after the heavy losses of the last few years, that is set to be turned around in 2013 and beyond. The Club have made an astute appointment as my successor in Daniel Gidney and I can tell you it is in very capable hands. Daniel is a great addition, despite being a Birmingham City supporter! Well I suppose someone has to be! I wish him well.
One thing I forgot to mention – we did win the Championship for the first time in 77 years, but I can hardly claim credit for that now can I?!!