A man who has devoted his life to the Eastbourne Saffrons Sports Club has been elected as its 13th president, succeeding the late David Stevens who had held the role since 1987 (writes Ken McEwan).
Andrew Price played for Eastbourne Hockey Club for 46 seasons, retiring due to injury in 2012. During those years, he played in every team and was a committee member for 40 years.
After leaving school in 1966, Andrew played a few games for Eastbourne Town FC but a friend suggested he should give hockey a try and the rest, they say, is history.
He also played a few games for Eastbourne Cricket Club and was a member of the Squash Club. In 1970 he was secretary of the organising committee for the international hockey match played at the Saffrons between England and Wales
Andrew was elected chairman of the Saffrons in 2001 during one of the club’s darkest periods when it seemed as if it would either cease to exist or half the ground might be sold for residential development.
Andrew held the chairmanship until 2005 by which time the management committee had cleared the rent arrears, the trade creditors had been repaid and the landlord was satisfied the dilapidation of the ground had been corrected and a new clubhouse was under construction. Andrew is proud to be the 13th president of the Saffrons since its foundation in 1886. His philosophy for the club to prosper has not altered over the years. Eastbourne Cricket, Eastbourne Town and Eastbourne Hockey clubs must pay an annual fee to the parent Saffrons club to cover the cost of ground maintenance and day-to-day running costs.
He said, ‘These sporting sections, which are run by their own individual committees, are successful and well managed but if the overall club is not funded correctly or is poorly managed, then the dark days of the past could return.
“It is very simple… football, cricket and hockey cannot be played at the Saffrons if the parent Saffrons Sports Club became insolvent and therefore had to forfeit its lease. As an example of how the club’s fortunes can change, for decades the ground rent was £140 per annum, but over the last few years it has been increased up to the present level of £21,000.
“It is important that men and women, boys and girls, need to be encouraged to play sport at the Saffrons but at a cost they can afford.”
To help arrest the problem the Saffrons 100 Club was formed to raise funds towards covering this huge rent cost. Membership of the club consists mainly of past players and local residents who appreciate sport and want to ensure the wonderful 22 acres in the middle of town are retained.
“It is a constant battle to try and get the membership up to 100 or, in an ideal world, even higher.” Andrew admitted.
There is no doubt that the Saffrons has a worthy president who has not only played a major part in keeping the club alive, but also preserving it. Running costs may have increased hugely over the years but as far as members of Eastbourne’s most famous sports club is concerned, the Price is right!