In 1984, Lashings Bar was challenged to a game of cricket in the famous Mote Park by another local pub, The Minstrel, after another team had backed out of the game. After hastily putting together a team of amateur players, Lashings unfortunately suffered a harsh defeat. Owner and entrepreneur, David Folb, declared that Lashings would never lose in that way again.
This determination sparked an incredible business journey and a legacy that is still thriving today. With a myriad of sports connections, Folb began to build an impressive team of newly retired professionals. The new line-up included Richie Richardson and Brian Lara and posed a formidable threat in the Kent leagues.
“Former professional cricketeers would get together week after week and travel around the Home Counties to play local teams. It started with no fanfare or posters or audience, just a group of current and ex-players meeting up for a game, but it steamrolled and eventually the Lashings team was playing in front of huge crowds and sweeping through the leagues.”
Thirty years later, Lashings World has transformed into the sport entertainment and events company that works with all-stars like Saqlain Mushtaq and Sir Curtly Ambrose. Current co-owners, Scott Charlton (who has been the “voice” of Lashings for 20 years) and David Fitzgerald took over the business in 2018 and have since gone on to expand the Lashing’s empire. Creating bespoke entertainment, charity, and fundraising events with the biggest names from cricket, football, and boxing. Lashings World has become an internationally recognised brand. Charlton and Fitzgerald have worked tirelessly to professionalise the club, organising tours and matches with local clubs while offering former pros a critical form of income.
The employment opportunities offered to Lashing’s players not only allow them to continue earning through their sport but also keep them involved and immersed in the world of professional cricket or football. It creates a supportive community for retired players who may have been forced to withdraw early due to injury.
“Sports has an incredible way of building you up and knocking you down at the same time. In any sport, the minute you get injured or you’re not in favour, you get taken out of that environment because you are considered to be a negative influence. As a result, cricket to this day has the biggest suicide rate of all professional sports.”
By giving former players the platform to be involved in the sport they love, Lashings World are able to put together amazing events where people can meet legends like Paul Gascoigne and Courtney Walsh. Charlton, and Fitzgerald have taken a different approach to the standard fundraising or corporate event.
“We realised that nobody goes to any sporting event to stand at the end and listen to someone auctioning off thirty plus odd items randomly donated by sports stars or unrelated businesses. All of our auctioned items are carefully selected, exclusive, and lashings specific. For example, you could bid on afternoon tea for six people with Henry Blofield. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences with people and players our customers really admire, that’s what makes our events unique.”
Lashings also host panel events in sports venues across the UK, where fans can enjoy in-depth interviews with sporting legends and engage in an audience Q+A session. The 100 club is a unique section of the business, which encourages business owners to attend networking and presentation events with other decision-makers, enjoying first-class talks from sports legends and engaging in motivational conversations within the more relaxed sports event environment.
Charlton and Fitzgerald both played sports throughout their lives and have witnessed first-hand what sports can do for children. By providing a physical outlet for frustrations, mental wellbeing, and focus, sports often teach boys and girls discipline, respect, and communication. Grassroots football and cricket clubs are struggling to find funding or volunteers, so Lashing set up their own coaching academy for kids, with three coaching tiers at different levels of instruction.
“From our perspective, sport is so important at the grassroots level. Kids often go without the proper facilities and arguably, young people don’t get exposed to cricket until university.”
Similarly to major tournaments and matches around the world, local clubs and teams were impacted hard by the pandemic. Lashings themselves found their calendar wiped clean as lockdown and restrictions made hosting events impossible. Thankfully, the Lashing’s calendar is full once again, with events for 2021 and 2022.
What advice would Lashings give to new entrepreneurs?
“Have an end goal but on a day-to-day basis, focus on your short-term goals. At the start of 2020, we had a full diary, we had sold out shows up and down the country and that all changed in a heartbeat so concentrate on what is happening now and be ready for any uncertainties.”
“Only ever do what you love. If you don’t enjoy an aspect of the role, find someone to do it for you. Delegate what you don’t enjoy or can’t do so you can focus on your strengths.”