By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
BRADNINCH CC’s first new chairman for three decades has been outlining his fresh agenda for the club.
Christopher Dean was voted in unopposed at the Kensham Park club’s annual meeting to replace long-serving Derrick Foan.
Foan stood down before the annual meeting after 30 years as chairman, during which the club climbed four divisions in the Devon League and brought Premier cricket to Kensham Park for the first time.
Dean, a keeper-batsman in his playing days, has been associated with Bradninch for more than 20 years, both as a player and an administrator. He served eight years (2003-2011) as secretary.
Dean knows Foan will be a hard act to follow, but is determined to put his own stamp on the club both on and off the field.
Bradninch will start the 2021 season in the A Division of the Tolchards Devon Cricket League with aspirations of regaining the Premier spot they lost in 2018.
Dean is pragmatic about the season ahead and won’t be prioritising promotion for the 1st XI ahead of all else.
“I want Bradninch to play at the highest level possible, but if that is not the Premier Division then so be it,” said Dean.
“We have got a side with reasonable promotion chances and that is unlikely to be relegated, but I believe the club should make equal if not greater priorities to expand and develop youth and women’s cricket and, at the same time, making the club a much more important facility within the local community.”
Dean said Bradninch won’t be engaging an overseas player in 2021, but have asked Mitchell Pugh to continue as their match-day pro. The South African-born, Australia-raised, Devon-resident all-rounder arrived at Kensham Park from Torquay last summer.
Instead of investing club money in team upgrading, Dean wants to invest in upgrading the club’s facilities.
“The public face of the clubhouse has changed, but there remains a lot to do on the playing side in areas such as dressing rooms and toilets,” said Dean.
“Phase three would be to move upstairs and create a second floor and make the club more of a community asset.
“The club opens six nights a week and we would like to offer food beyond Saturdays and Sunday.”
Dean will be heading up a new-look executive with Steve Birley as his vice-chairman as well as a clutch of fresh committee members. He may have his own agenda, but said it was important to recognise the contribution of Foan and others over the years.
“Derrick’s long service to the club has been inestimable, most recently with the very substantial redevelopment of the clubhouse facilities,” said Dean.
“Similar thanks need to be given to Paul and Roy Nott for the long service to the club as players and outgoing vice-chairman and president respectively over several decades.”
Something that is not on Dean’s agenda is a marathon stint as chairman. Even if he wanted to he could not!
“I proposed a constitutional change at the annual meeting that no one can be re-elected chairman for more than five terms of one year each,” said Dean.
“A club has to keep moving on and for that reason needs fresh blood at the head of it.”
Chris Dean was born 64 years ago in the Iranian city of Abadan where his father worked in the petrol industry for BP. Aged eight he was sent to the United Kingdom to attend school in Cheltenham, where he was first introduced to cricket.
“I was an opening batsman and wicketkeeper at the junior school attached to Cheltenham College,” said Dean. “The college was the venue for Gloucestershire’s annual Cheltenham Festival and for that reason I have been a lifelong supporter of Gloucestershire.”
Dean’s secondary education was at Rugby School in Warwickshire, where he continued to keep wicket in the 1st XI but found himself demoted down the batting order.
“I made Geoffrey Boycott look quick and my job was to irritate the opposition,” said Dean.
Dean regarded Iran as home until he was 20 when the family left the country and returned to the UK permanently. He attended university in Birmingham and joined Tamworth CC, where he played until the early 90s.
Jobs in the Students’ Union office at Coventry Polytechnic and the University of Coventry followed before the chance arose in 1993 to work at the University of Exeter.
Dean stayed at Exeter until retiring in early 2019, latterly working as an international globetrotter drumming up business for the university. Being fluent in several languages – including Farsi and Norwegian – was a particular asset in the job.
Dean played for Premier side Exeter for a couple of seasons then migrated to Cullompton, where the cricket was a little less serious and a lot more to his liking.
When son Nick joined Bradninch colts in 2002 dad followed as a player and youth coach. He has been there ever since.