DETERMINED Old Hill Cricket Club chiefs have vowed the good times will return after a troubled year which has included financial difficulties, committee member exits, scaremongering and now a violent robbery.

First team captain Dan Cox issued a rallying cry for the forthcoming season.

He said: "The robbery has been a devastating blow at a difficult time for the club after our hardest year financially.

"We felt we turned the corner recently and have all been pulling in the right direction and a lot of new volunteers have livened the place up too.

"Our accountant even said we have made great progress from where we were last year after our bar receipts slumped because of bad weather."

He added: "We were insured for what was taken in the robbery and no-one was hurt so we can again begin to make great strides forward, we are all looking forward to the season starting."

A raft of changes on the committee included Marina Preece, whose two sons play at the club, becoming the new club secretary a few weeks ago.

She said: "It has been a baptism of fire but we are on the up and our Cricket Force weekend was fantastic with lots of people volunteering to help do up the ground."

Mrs Preece also scotched rumours the social club was close to financial collapse.

She said: "I do not know where these rumours came from, we lost a lot of revenue because of the bad weather last season like a lot of clubs did but things are looking up and the new season will be brilliant.

"We have so many loyal members who really love this club and with the new season starting next week and plenty of bookings for our function room things are really looking up now."

She added: "Old Hill Cricket Club has been going since 1884 and it will take a lot more than a few vicious thugs and some financial difficulties to stop us carrying on."