Billingshurst Cricket Club’s long-standing chairman Jim Burroughs is enjoying his retirement as a true unsung hero of the club.
The club stalwart signed off from by winning two richly deserved awards in recognition of the phenomenal work he has done over a quarter of a century at the club.
He was awarded both the Sussex Sports Awards Unsung Hero 2016 and the Sussex Cricket NatWest Bank OSCA Heartbeat of the Club prize. In the Natwest category he was also nominated for a national award.
Over the 25 years that Burroughs has performed the role of chairman at Billingshurst, the club’s teams have won plenty of promotions, awards and trophies. Fittingly, he now has two personal awards to reflect all he has done for the organisation over that time.
The club has come a long way away from when Burroughs and his friend, Dick Southward, struggled to even field a single team to participate in Sussex cricket.
From Billingshurst’s now former ground at Station Road, the pair decided that the future lay with youth. During the 90s the club ran just a single first XI while developing the colts section.
Burroughs and Southward both managed and coached the junior sides and in 2000 the policy yielded success as the club won West Sussex League Division 2. This began a period of success with the first XI joining the Invitation League, achieving multiple promotions, winning Division 1 and the League Cup in 2005.
As the club was beginning to enjoy success on the field, Burroughs was planning, and finally putting into place, the move from Station Road to the current ground at Jubilee Fields.
Ten years on, the facility has matured into an attractive and popular place to play and watch cricket. Jubilee Fields, officially opened by Mike Gatting, hosts 1st, 2nd and 3rd team fixtures each week and has also welcomed Sussex ladies, county youth teams as well as Sussex County Cricket Club testimonial games.
Equally important to the chairman was the development of teams other than the 1st XI and for players of all abilities and ages to be able to enjoy the game. Since 2008 the 2nd and 3rd XIs have won a number of titles with both gaining promotion as recently as last season.
Burroughs himself has captained all the club’s sides over the years but recently skippered the 3rd and 4th XIs whilst also preparing a second playing area, now named appropriately ‘The Burroughs Ground’, at Jubilee Fields.
The youth section, where it all began, continues to thrive, the highlight thus far coming in 2007 with the under-16s winning the North Sussex championship, along with four adult sides.
Having joined the Sussex League in 2008 the high point in the club’s history came at the end of the 2014 season when they gained promotion to the Premier Division.
The side competed well for two seasons and although relegated last year will hope to bounce back this term.
This achievement would simply not have been possible without the years of selfless commitment that Burroughs has shown, often joined by wife Angie helping prepare the excellent teas.
The accolade of unsung hero is certainly apt. On Saturdays this summer as a spectator, having finally passed on the chairman’s role, Burroughs has more than earned a little quiet time and will be able to reflect on the sporting legacy he has created.