You can keep your swanky boardrooms. This is where it’s at.

by Bob Lethaby

For Chairmen of Premier League football clubs, Saturdays are all about hobnobbing, drinking champagne and a perennial search for elevated social status. Football clubs are the acceptable place to be if you Arab or a Russian who has fleeced the mineral wealth of his own nation and sees the relative safety of the UK as the ideal bolthole.

There are few complaints either, football fans get gifted with world stars gracing their turf, property developers and estate agents in Mayfair and Knightsbridge get plied with obscene amounts of cash whilst the fashion boutiques and jewellers of Bond Street have never had it so good. Cash is King and no-one gives a toss where it came from or how dirty it is.

I am a Chairman as well; however, the name is where the similarity ends, as my role is at Oakley Cricket Club, a little wooden hut on a concrete base smack bang in the middle of the Hampshire countryside. Rather than quaffing back champagne and comparing bank balances with a Russian oligarch, today I have been lifting industrial lawn mowers on to the back of a van so they can go for their annual pre-season servicing.

Here is the clever bit though. As the luke warm winter sunshine shone across the pitch this morning, I really couldn’t have imagined anywhere else I would have wanted to be. Hampshire, with its forests, meadows, rolling hills and trout streams, is a beautiful county to live in. I would much rather be out in the fresh air than in some sanitised executive suite sucking up to and living in fear of, Russian gangsters and mad Arabs.

As the Chairman of a little cricket club there is no elevated social status and the only reward is the odd, gratefully received, pat on the back to massage the ego and a general sense of wellbeing that comes with being involved in something that others enjoy. However, what you do get is the freedom of the Hampshire countryside without the need for an armoured car or a bodyguard.

You see, some of the best things in life cost bugger all.

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