We know the wine industry is full of extraordinary talents when it comes to tasting and knowing all there is to know about wine. But it also includes a number of sporting talents – some of whom have even represented their country – who regularly show their skills as part of the Wine Trade Sports Club. In September it is marking its 50th anniversary with a special dinner at Vintners Hall. Lucy Marcuson explains what the organisation is all about and how to join.
The Wine Trade Sports Club Foundation 50th anniversary dinner takes place at Vintners’ Hall on September 26. Click here to sign up and for more details.
For those that don’t know the Wine Trade Sports Club can you explain how it came about?
The history of the club dates back to between the great wars we believe but maybe even further. We are not sure exactly as no records were kept but we know from some of the old trophies we keep at Vintners Hall that members of ‘the wine trade’ had been organising golf and cricket fixtures against various clubs via their trade or personal contacts in that period.
Our charity The Wine Trade Sports Club Foundation celebrates 50 years this year. It was officially founded in 1973 following a walk that raised £300 in 1971.
How do you raise money?
Largely via our membership; members pay an annual fee of just £20 enabling access to play at some incredible golf courses, great cricket fixtures and other sports. The club also hosts an annual quiz night and have some club kit and ties etc which brings in a little income. Plus we have our own charity The Wine Trade Sports Club Foundation so organise a charity walk every few years.
How has the club developed over the years?
Membership has grown and thanks to the dedication of the current committee, the club is thriving – but we are always seeking new members. Notably more women have become involved at committee level too over the years which is great as well as a wider range of companies within the wine and spirits trade.
What sort of sporting events: teams do you have?
The range of sports fixtures we organise for members includes squash, tennis, real tennis, padel, football (5 a side), as well as an annual cycling event, and over the years rugby and sailing have also very much played a part too. Cricket and golf, though, seem to remain the most popular – we manage an annual club golf championship as well as a knock out competition competing for ‘The Springbok Trophy’.
Who is the club aimed at and how do you join?
Whilst we are still called The Wine Trade Sports Club, the club is open to anyone who is or has been involved working in the drinks trade in any capacity, but we also have non trade members. Members include people who work as chief executives, managing directors, sales people, finance, buyers, journalists, admin, logistics, bar staff and everything else in between. Joining is easy – members just need to sign up to the newsletter and membership payment plan via the website membership — Wine Trade Sports Club (wtsc.org.uk) and the club will get in touch from there.
What teams do you currently run and need members for?
We have a fairly comprehensive fixture list of golf, cricket and squash fixtures that run throughout the year which the committee secretaries manage and we reach out to the membership to participate in other events. I know there are cricket fixtures versus Woolpit and North Norfolk later in August we are currently recruiting for and there is a golf match at Huntercombe Golf Club near Henley in early September as well as a tennis evening in Dulwich – all excellent fixtures and venues.
Do you have to be currently in the drinks and wine industry to take part?
Whilst we encourage membership mainly from the industry, there are members who just enjoy the benefits of the club too.
What is the money raised used for?
The club manages the finances to cover various overheads but we donate any excess proceeds and money raised from the walk or quiz night each year to our charity – The Wine Trade Sports Club Foundation – who have been helping beneficiaries from our industry for many years via The Benevolent and now The Drinks Trust.
You are organising a special dinner in September – what is that about?
Our charity, The Wine Trade Sports Club Foundation, celebrates 50 years this year and and the charity’s founding chairman Michael Hasslacher will be stepping down at the end of the year after 50 years, so we are hosting a black tie dinner at Vintners Hall to celebrate this amazing achievement.
Together with the trustees he has managed over £800,000 of donations to so many deserving beneficiaries over the years. All club members and players (past and present that include a few ex England players) and affiliates have been invited and anyone who has had a connection to the club over the years or potential new members are most welcome to join us – but tickets are selling fast. You can find out all the details here.
You are also looking to pay tribute to Phil Tuck MW at the dinner who sadly died in a cycling accident recently – what was his connection to the club and what are you doing at the dinner?
Phil was a great supporter of the club; a county champion squash player and excellent cricketer who also enjoyed golf, but his real passion was cycling and he had only recently joined the committee to develop the cycling element for its members.
For many years he managed the superlative and highly competitive Hurlingham Club cricket fixture for the club, and he had so many friends across the trade and beyond who will miss him.
With his extensive connections in our industry Phil had been appointed to source wines for our anniversary dinner and the club looks forward to celebrating and remembering his life that night now too – with some really great wines thanks to the generosity of some of his trade friends. There will also be a small charity auction.
What other events are you planning?
We have partnered with the Drinks Trust to stage ‘The Harvest Tour’ at the end of September – a three day bike around the south east of England vineyard region visiting some of the major producers and raising funds directly for their Cost of Living Crisis appeal. There are still places to get involved. There will also be another quiz night in November and we are planning a walk next year.
Anything else to say?
Whatever your age or whatever you do, if you enjoy sport and are in our industry then we really encourage you to join us and get involved. The club is a great opportunity to network in the industry, enjoy some exclusive sporting venues and fixtures, and most importantly so many friendships have been formed through the club over the years. We have an AGM and dinner each Spring, and more details about the club can be found on our website www.wtsc.org.uk so we look forward to hearing from you soon.