Brocklesby Park Cricket Club


It is difficult to find a beginning to Brocklesby Park Cricket Club. Although we know it was firstly a Hunt Club. In 1906, it was a club of 30 fixtures, of which few, if any, were connected with hunting, and the club was entitled Brocklesby Park and District Cricket Club.

In these fixtures are a number of everyday clubs the same as we would play now: Grimsby Town, Caistor, Kirton, Brigg, Barton, Elsham, Normandby, Redbourne, and the teams unfamiliar do not appear to be hunt teams.

So how much hunt cricket was played, and was it a separate team? George Collins describes at some length, the match between the Earl of Galway's XI in 1905, in which Brocklesby scored 154, and bowled out the Earl of Galway's for 137.

It seemed the accepted thing to have a pack of hounds at the front of a cricket photograph. Maybe this was because the Brocklesby hounds have such a high reputation. Having seen this photograph, and the ones in the pavilion for a lot of years, and regarding it about as far back as we could go, it was surprise to come across the book, "Lincolnshire Cricketers 1828-1993." It was also a surprise to find that William Richardson, who lived at Limber and played for Hainton and Brocklesby Park, played for Lincolnshire between 1865 and 1869; so the club named Brocklesby Park and District C.C. goes back at least as far as 1865, or before, as it is highly unlikely that anyone would play for the county in the first year of a club's existence.

After this, a hopeful visit to the estate office produced the following information: that in 1835, the whole of the cricket ground side of the park was covered in trees, and the trees were large, like the ones that were felled around the pavilion. The racecourse had a circuit of two miles, or twice the size of the present one. In 1850, no cricket ground was shown on the 0.S. map. This begs the question, when was the cricket ground played out? The answer seems to be the early 1860's.

In the days before the infernal combustion engine, the visitors travelled by wagonette, and stayed the night to make two days of the match. No doubt a lot of shop was talked about hounds and horses.

Eventually the rest of the estate joined in, followed by the villages and towns. Things got a bit overdone with subscriptions at 5/-, but one night, the Earl was teeing off for a few holes before supper, when one of the members said to him, "You want to wait your bloody turn mate." Not surprisingly this had a shattering effect on membership, and it was difficult to raise a team of cricketers. One can imagine the reaction of the members, to the offender, when they lost their membership.

Besides the cricket ground, there was a Point to Point course, a very good one, a nine hole golf course, and an archery course.

The Golf course was ploughed up during the War, to grow food and the Archery Club faded away in the 1950's.

Pre-war members were Tom Atkinson, a big hitter, John Atkinson, his son, Rev Ure, Vicar of Kirmington, a good all-rounder, Dr Plant, a good quick, Jim Robinson, a big hitter, John Robinson, his brother, and Charlie Turner. Ted Blakeborough, an opening bowler, came from Brighouse, where he played with Herbert Sutcliffe, Alec Hunter kept wicket for Oxford University, John Stamp, father of Dominic, Charlie Brumpton, who still has a B.P. cap, and Bernard Clayton, cousin of huntsman Ron Harvey.

Rev Ure was a Scot and we asked him to speak at our dinner in 1952. He had been a minister in Australia for a number of years, and said cricket had been introduced in the country half way through the last century, and had been a more difficult game since.

So we reached WW2, knowing very little about the club between the wars and gradually the club faded away for the duration. to make matters worse it was requisitioned by the army in 1942. Our chairman, J Whitewood, was told by Major Harper, C.O., that we could still carry on playing, but travelling became more difficult, and finally, by the end of the war, all pleasure motoring was prohibited. Matches towards the end included one against Elsham RAF with it's 40 Lancasters and the Army who left indelible drawings of Chad on the notice board.

For the duration and some time after the grazing was let to Mr Reg Fowler, who stocked the grass with large Irish bullocks. He was a cattle dealer who imported from Ireland and sold to local farmers. My uncle said to me, "If he sends you presents of excellent fish, you're paying too much for your cattle." He did and I was.

They were big cattle and soon pushed down fences at will. The fences had originally been shaped oak posts, sawn in half and grooved to take a half inch cable. These were difficult to tighten, so we used a tractor, but the top strand of still sagged a bit. We asked the Earl personally if we could fasten a strand of barbed wire on top of the posts to prevent the more active bullocks from jumping the fence. Knowing that barbed wire is anathema to all hunting men, it was surpising that he consented. This was the 6th Earl, Marcus, who always took a helpful interest in all we did. the fence did however put cricket flannels and certain parts of the anatomy in jeopardy, so it was a great relief when the estate created a new fence, and even better, removed the old one.

The Earl accompanied by Lady Yarborough, came to give approval of the site of the new concrete wicket. Unfortunately, he insisted that we lay it on the far side of the boundary parallel to the fence. This meant climbing the fence to recover any balls hit wide of mid-off. The concrete was delivered by a large Humberside contracting firm, but they didn't know they'd given it to us.

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