I first was elected to the Clontarf CC General Committee at 18 years of age. Someone had decided that the committee needed to hear the voice of the younger members. Well I am not sure that that is what they got but for the next 35 years I sat on that committee, in various roles.

What became clear in that time and it never changed was that money was the overriding concern of the committee. If it was not ground development or the upkeep of the pavilion, it was the cost of coaching or even bus hire. Nothing came for free.

The poor Treasurer was under constant assault, someone always wanted a portion of the cash, whether the bank balance suggested that it was available or not. Remarkably, more often than not, that cash was found. After cricket and sometimes ahead of cricket, fundraising was the most important item on the agenda.

Clontarf CC has been around for nearly 150 years and it seems fundraising has always been an issue. Looking through the archives we find that thought its history Clontarf CC has found new and innovative ways to raise money throughout its long history. Of course, subscription fees go some of the way, but without knowing the percentages, I guess that it goes only so far.

Evans Dexter was passed a document a number of years back with was the Secretary’s G.F. Healy notebook from 1886, it is a wonderful piece of history, a combination of what we now would call a fixture book but also lots of assorted club information. It lists the members, a total of 50, but it also lists the subscriptions received. Interestingly, subscriptions only seem to have been received from 13 people, which in itself leave many questions unanswered and in this case unanswerable.

We do know that the local landowner, John E.V.Vernon Esq paid £5 while Lord Ardilaun who was from up the road in Raheny contributed £2. Lord Ardilaun had a very successful business (just the matter of the Guinness brewery) so while his payment seems on the small side, we do know that he was actively involved in Dollymount CC where he was President, so perhaps his financial commitment to that club was greater. Subscriptions varied greatly among those who paid, with Mr Vernon top of the list while the lowest amount received was 2 Shillings 6 pence.

Subscriptions are one thing but when a club needs money, it is the fundraising committee, or the Ways and Means as it used to be known, who are called upon. Money has always been an issue, when the club moved from its base at the Fairview end of the Howth Road to Castle Avenue in 1896, the move came with an annual rent requirement of £30 per annum. Fortunately some of this could be offset by contributions of £10 from each of the Clontarf Football Club who became winter tenants and from a local butcher Dawson who used the pitches for grazing.

Concerts in the local Town Hall were a big money spinner from the period 1890 till 1914 and undoubtedly provided some welcome entertainment for the growing suburb. Clontarf international Jack Aston was a regular performer at these concerts and was well known as a high quality singer. There was a temporary gap in 1908 when the planned concert had to be postponed due to a typhoid epidemic, well some things never change.

In 1911, the club organised a Grand Summer Fete. It was a huge event, publicised in the press and open to all. Refreshment stalls, cigarettes and sweets, strawberries and cream, lots of sport including tennis, golf and athletics were on offer. Other less obvious activities such as American Bagatelle, crocket target and quoits were other attractions. Throughout the days, bands played and singers performed. It must have been quite a show. And no doubt a good money maker, the programme was 97 pages long, jam packed with advertising. As an aside, the programme also includes the first known written history of the club.

Draws are a regular method of raising quick and relatively easy money. A lot depends of course on the prizes on offer, 1921 grand draw offered a nice First Prize of £20. Decent, though you might feel a little short changed with the 8th prize of a Sack of Flour.

Another innovative money maker was the Stop Watch competition started in the 1920s. The idea was that a stop watch was wound and sealed with a watch maker in Dublin city. It was left in view and the participant had to guess the time at which it would stop. Club members sold “lines” at which time the buyer would guess the time at which the watch would stop. In 1922 the competition was won by Mr. G.J.Bonass of 81 Wellington Road, Dublin who guessed a time of 8 hours, 8 minutes and 21 seconds.

In 1949 the decision was taken to develop what was known as the Lido field. This had, pre World War 2, been the home of Clontarf Hockey Club and also home to some tennis courts. The war meant that the land was used for allotments and had as a result fallen into poor condition. The plan was to develop the field as a home for the rugby club, though later it would become the cricket field we now know. Money was therefore needed. The clubs called on a member Otto Palcic whose normal job was as a manager for Tofts Funfairs.

In 1949 and 1950 huge carnivals were held on the Lido and were an enormous success. In 1949 profit came in at £260 while the following year receipts of £4500 generated profits of £782. The Carnival ran in August of both years and cricket continued next door. John Hill, always on the lookout for an edge over the batsman, chose to bowl with the carnival behind him and organised that the Ferris wheel was running, complete with music and lights while he bowled. Whether this was to his advantage is not recorded.

Dances were a regular feature through the years often more of a social event. But the 2 clubs ran a youth disco for many years in the 80s. The area had had a famous disco “The Grove” which had come to an end but soon the “The Cricket” became the place to be for the youngsters. Even earlier than that at the height of the craze, there had been an experiment with a roller disco but it did not last.

A large contributor to the finances from the late 70s through to the 90s was the club programme. Produced generally but not exclusively for First Team home games, the programme was an eagerly awaited production. It acted as a newsletter for the club and was hugely entertaining. It went through a number of editorial phases but the content was always something to which the members looked forward. Mind you if you had not been behaving yourself, well the chances were that Stella Downes writing under the Distaff Side heading was going to take you to task. Peter Prendergast was also another regular and entertaining contributor.

Of course the whole point of the programme was to make money and Charlie Craig worked tirelessly drumming up ads each year and thankless job, Charlie the club really owes you a huge debt for your efforts.

In recent years the most successful of fundraisers came about purely by chance. Michael Fitzsimmons, a lifelong member of both clubs, was in his usual Sunday evening spot in the bar, when he grumbled to some committee members that not only was the bar cold but it was particularly unwelcoming. He was quickly told that there were no funds available for such work.

If you know Michael, you will know that he was not going to accept such an excuse quietly, so he kept on his badgering. Finally one of the committee members cracked and told him to “do it himself”. And so he did.

With a small band of helpers he mobilised both clubs into organising Sponsored Walks in 2011 and 2012. Net Profit of €48,000 allowed the clubs to completely refit the bar, install heating and provide new furniture. It was a phenomenal effort from Michael and an indication that a can do attitude can and an unwillingness to say no can do amazing things.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused financial issues for all clubs and indeed the unions but clubs continue to find new ways to raise much needed funds to keep the game alive, just like the pioneers of the game in the past.