Derek Brewer Leaving
Notts With A Heavy Heart
Featured News | 13th February 2012
"Look at the view from my office . . . just look at it!" says Derek Brewer as he gazes out across a frosty, mid-winter Trent Bridge.
After seven years at the helm of one of the biggest clubs in county cricket, the chief executive is clearly leaving his top job with a heavy heart.
Joining in the County Championship-winning year of 2005, Brewer has guided Nottinghamshire through a period of extraordinary change.
He has helped keep the green and golds competitive on the field while, at the same time, ensuring they have prospered off it as well.
In financially challenging times, the former banker has continued to pursue the development of the ground – the Bridgford Road Stand, new replay screen and scoreboard, permanent floodlights have all been built on his watch.
Yet at the same time he has not sacrificed the club's future well-being, keeping a tight rein on the cash flow and enabling the club to post record profits of more than £500,000 for the year up to September 30 2011.
Of prime importance has been the club's ability to successfully stage high-quality international cricket.
Brewer's influence has ensured fans, sponsors and players enjoy coming to Trent Bridge – and consequently the ECB have retained their implicit faith in Notts to deliver.
Sustained efforts to engage the community with pioneering projects has certainly aided their cause, which, momentously, culminated in the club securing Ashes Tests against Australia in 2013 and 2015, sandwiching an attractive clash with India.
With such a list of achievements behind him, it was hardly surprising when the MCC came calling.
From the spring – an exact date has still to be finalised – Brewer will take up a position as the world-famous institution's secretary and chief executive.
It was a position he simply could not turn down.
But as he sits looking out towards the resplendent Radcliffe Road development, you still get the feeling Brewer is going to miss all this.
"I really love Nottingham and it will be a bind to leave because I have been in the city for 14 years," says Brewer.
"This is a club with tradition, history and a magnificent venue. It has been a tremendous learning experience. I could never have imagined the breadth of experiences I would sample coming here.
"It's a different world to other occupations and it's been a fantastic seven years.
"My banking colleagues thought I was absolutely bonkers when I left to join Notts. Why leave a thriving organisation, as it was then, such as RBS?
"My answer was simple: it was something I was passionate about doing. I'd always wanted to work in sport and when I knew David Collier had moved to the ECB and they wanted a replacement with business experience I applied and fortunately got the nod."
Brewer's love of cricket stems from his childhood passion for all things Sussex.
As a youngster, he was a junior member at Hove and remembers attending net sessions between the ages of 12 and 17 on the outfield where he was coached by the likes of Tony Greig and John Snow.
He went on to play for Warwickshire seconds and British Universities but in his own words, was 'never quite good enough' to make the grade at county level.
Even so, during that period, he crossed paths with Graham Dilley, Richard Ellison, Paul Downton, Mark Benson and Chris Broad.
In fact, the former Notts and England man was captain of Gloucester Young Amateurs when Brewer captained Berkshire Bantams.
Those experiences have served the 53-year-old well since his arrival in NG2.
He says: "It was a great year to start out as not only did we win the County Championship in 2005, but there was also that gripping Test match of that incredible Ashes series.
"One of my early assignments was when Notts played Lancashire in a 40-over game live on television and they had a live tea-time feature with each chief executive.
"I was on with Ian Ward and Michael Holding, being grilled by Charlies Colville. I'd never done live television before so it was quite nerve-racking and a baptism of fire!"
One of the biggest changes in recent years is the advent of T20 cricket, which is now established as a major component of the cricket calendar.
Notts have managed to ride that particular wave better than most, with consistently high attendances.
Only London clubs Middlesex and Surrey had higher average crowds for their games in that format last season.
"If you look back, some of the best times have been those T20 evenings," says Brewer.
"In some of those games the tension became almost unbearable and it's probably the only time that I felt a bit like a football chief executive with the pressure and fine margins between winning and losing.
"Our crowds have been really good down the years and the pleasing thing is that so many members turn out for them – it is the most watched form of the game by them.
"Yes it's popular with the youngsters, but there are a lot of County Championship watchers there as well.
"I think T20 has undoubtedly been a good thing, not least for improving fielding.
"It also helps players prepare for international cricket. Previously you only got the chance to play in front of a big crowd in a one-day final at Lord's.
"But now there are crowds of 25,000 at some big T20 games at Lord's, while there can be 13,000 to 14,000 here for knock-out games.
"The good crowds here, I believe, are a combination of good marketing, the team doing well, fair prices and good luck with the weather."
Not surprisingly, Brewer struggles to pin down just one highlight from his time.
But he has his own thoughts on how his place in Notts' history will be recorded.
"Winning that gold package (for the Ashes Tests) was a massive amount of work. Lisa (Pursehouse) and I were working on that bid for six months," says Brewer.
"But I suppose in 20 years' time when you look back at the merits of each of the people who have been in my position at Trent Bridge, my legacy will be the way the club has been transformed into one of the best community clubs in the country.
"We are not in it for the awards, but we have won quite a few for our partnerships with the community. I'm very proud of things like the Positive Futures Programme in Cotgrave.
"I think the way we have developed that side has been a major part of us winning international matches."
Of course, things have not always gone swimmingly, but that has only served to make Brewer's enjoyment of the good times that much greater.
He says: "My lowlight would have to be when we lost in the semi-final of T20 Finals Day at the Rose Bowl in 2010 (against Somerset) on the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-affected match.
"It was also a low point when were relegated from the County Championship in 2006.
"I can remember sitting in my old office and Mick Newell came in and sat down afterwards and could hardly speak.
"But that's the beauty of sport – you have highs and lows.
"When Mick won the first championship in 2005 I was not really involved, but in 2010, having supported him through that, I really appreciated how much hard work goes into it.
"The honour of winning the title and the visit to Buckingham Place that goes with it, is a worthy reward."
Like Mark Arthur and David Collier before him, Brewer has been well aware of the need for Trent Bridge to move with the times, particularly with heightened competition from new venues.
"This club, unlike most others has had a masterplan that has been very well thought out and used by a whole host of people over the past 20 years. I have come along at the back end of that," said Brewer.
"It has certainly got tougher in recent years to get funding.
"Putting up the floodlights was a particularly complex operation and nerve-racking.
"And it was difficult to turn around the Bridgford Road Stand because we demolished the old Parr Stand and West Wing (in August 2007) and had to have it ready for the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh for the New Zealand Test in June 2008."
Brewer has found a strong ally in Newell, who has been director of cricket since stepping up from the role of assistant to replace Clive Rice in 2002.
During their partnership, Notts have won two County Championships and come mightily close to winning one-day honours too.
Brewer added: "I am going to miss the day-to-day involvement with Mick.
"He has done a magnificent job on resources that are slightly less than some of the others and I think really highly of him.
"He has had a huge amount of success and part of that is his ability to consistently attract high-quality players here.
"Mick is very talented and having been involved with England Under-19s tour to Bangladesh and England Lions to the West Indies, he is clearly very highly thought of by the ECB."
As ever, Brewer remains modest about his achievements, believing much of the recent success at Notts is down to a true team effort.
And he selflessly says that a change of chief executive might, at this point, benefit the green and golds.
"I don't think it is a bad time span I've served," he insists.
"It's good to have someone coming in with new ideas. We always said in banking that four years was a good time.
"I have been lucky to work with two good chairman in Barry Pailing and Peter Wright and I have always got on well with the committee too.
"The team of people here work really hard and I believe they are very special.
"I will still come up for matches and after the battle to win the Ashes I would love to think I could be here for when that first ball is bowled."
For more local news and sport visit The Nottingham Post.