Spalding Town Cricket Club – A Brief History
Cricket has been played in Spalding for well over 200 years with even the great W.G.Grace playing against Spalding for the United South of England in 1877 http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/195/195078.html.
The image (from britainfromabove.org.uk) shows the Spalding Grammar School cricket pitch in 1955 – where our first team currently play!
But the present club was formed in 1957 with the amalgamation of 2 local clubs. The home ground being, as it is now, on the Memorial Field.
Spalding at the time were not in any league and just played in friendlies both on a midweek (Thursday afternoons – as the shops had half day closing) and also Saturdays and Sundays. In those early days the town had many leading names such as the county captain Joe Price and George Sly – who has been a part of the club since the founding, and of course club legend Henry Walkers – who started his association with the club way back in 1962 as a 12 year old boy and served the committee in every position finally as president of the club until his passing in 2014.
The club were founder members of the South Lincs and Borders League in 1970 and won the division in the first year under the astute captaincy of Joe Price! With a second team entering into the league a few years later, the club soon became a successful one within the local area, winning the 1978 championship – with the timeless Mick East captaining the club to their second success!
Throughout the 1980’s the club had many ups and downs with a couple of relegation’s but as was always the case the club always came bouncing back!
At the turn of the millennium the clubs fortunes were on the wane with the club struggling to field 2 teams on a Saturday with the club reaching its nadir in the winter of 2006 with the club holding an EGM (Emergency General Meeting) to discuss the dissolving of the club. Luckily it was decided to drop down to one team and to drop into the bottom division for the 2007 season with Richard Arnold being skipper and also Chairman.
In the 2007 season Town were very successful with the club winning the South Lincs and Borders League Division 2 but it was decided in the close season that the club would not be seeking promotion as they were looking to consolidate there playing numbers.
In the close season of 2007 Jim Clarke took on the role of Chairman and with it the club felt that after the success of the friendly team that played on a Sunday that it was important to get the club playing cricket within a league structure and as such the team entered a team in the South Lincs and Border Division 3.
In the 2008 season the team had a titanic struggle with local rivals Moulton Harrox, with the latter proving successful in their attempt to win the division and get promotion to Division 1. The seconds bounced back from a very poor start – the team losing their first 10 games with the team being bowled out for 23, 37, 40, 45 and 39 in their first 5 games to finish in a well-respected 7th place! Club Legend Heath Ripley joined the club in this season.
The 2009 season saw 17 year old Matt Hendry (pictured) take on the role of first team skipper, and with Clarke retaining the second team captaincy the shoots of growth of 2008 bore fruit with a double promotion! Run Machine and Spin King Ansar Hussain joined the club in the close season and won both the batting and bowling award for not just the club but the league as well. Town finished in their lowest position for 3 years but managed to secure promotion due to a restructuring of the league. The second team had a roaring start to the league continuing the form of the end of 2008 winning their first 9 games only to suffer a massive downturn in form only securing promotion chasing down 246 in a promotion decider against Blankney on the final day of the season.
In the close season it was decided to start a junior academy which was run in its first season by Mike Kearns Snr who had joined the club a year earlier. The academy had over 50 young players attend nets and also training outside in that first year. The U13 were the first team to play in the Borders and Youth Cricket League with the team finishing in 2nd place in 2010.
On the senior side, Simon Juckes took on the role of first team skipper and Andrew Casswell took on the role of 2nd team skipper. It was decided due to burgeoning playing numbers that the club would enter a 3rd team for the first time in their history in the 3rd Division with Stuart Parker taking on the reigns. The first had a splendid start to life in the South Lincs Premier League finishing in 4th place in the end with many players stepping up to the plate and scoring runs in the top division. The 2nd XI struggled finishing bottom and were reprieved by resignations in the other divisions. The 3rd XI finished in 5th place with many of the Under 13 squad easing in to senior cricket for the first time and showing great maturity.
In the 2010/11 close season Jim Clarke was replaced by Heath Ripley as chairman which enabled Jim to take on the role of junior director. With a spate of new signings including Rob Ambrose and Mike Kearns Jnr the club was looking at making a concerted effort to push on, with a good start the title looked within reach until a mid-season blip saw them settle for a very good 3rd place in the league behind heavyweights Stamford and champions Billingborough with Mike Kearns topping the run charts with 558.
The 2nd XI that year was took on by Tom Dale and with it saw an experienced team that included former club skipper Jon East and Lee Eyett saw them on course for silverware before a late end of season slump saw them finish in a very respectable 4th place.
The 3rd XI (pictured) were continuing to build finishing well in 5th place once again skippered very well by Stu Parker. The junior section in 2011 could boast 4 teams with an Under 9 upwards to the Under 15’s seeing the clubs senior squad underpinned very well by many talented juniors in the season – and with so many Under 15’s making a move into senior cricket.
The close season 2011/12 saw a major change of direction for the club with Simon Juckes standing down after 2 fine seasons of captaincy to be replaced by Rob Ambrose. Tim Norris, Charlie Kearns and Josh Newton were signed for the season and with Jack Barrett continuing to improve, Spalding had a real chance of pushing for honours in the 2012 season! With Tom Dale taking on the seconds and Rick Dale taking on the mantle of 3rd team skipper town decided that the time was right to put a team in the Rutland League for the encouragement of getting juniors playing cricket at a social level – Jim Clarke was elected skipper of that team for the season. Behind the scenes the club gained Clubmark status after the tireless efforts of Jim et al., and Heath convinced Russ Whitworth to join the ranks in order to add some commercial experience to the quickly expanding club.
The 1st XI had an epic battle throughout the season with title favourites Billingborough, with Town suffering a massive defeat at the start of the season at home to them. Afterwards, town dug out many good results thanks to the fantastic team spirit that Ambrose had created and after Billingborough blew up by losing 2 games in a row the scene was set in the away game, with Town bowling out the home team for 146, Newton showed his pedigree by scoring a fantastic 86* to nearly secure promotion to the ECB Lincs Premier League, which was guaranteed in the final match away at Woodhall Spa when Mike Kearns Jnr scored the runs that got them the extra point (past what they couldn’t be caught) to see them capture their first title for 34 years and secure their place in the ECB Lincolnshire Premier League!
The 2nd XI had another fascinating season with them always being in the mix for promotion behind runaway leaders Welby before falling short with a last day defeat at Welby seeing them 8 points short. David Thomas scored his first 50 in senior cricket in the team to be the first player for the junior academy to score a half century in senior colours.
The 3rd XI saw another season of consolidation with Rick seeing his young charges continually improving with Joe Lyon stepping up to the plate taking many wickets whilst opening the bowling with another young starlet Matt Sharpe to see the lads finish off with a fine 4th place finish with Rick Dale and Richard “Gilly” Gilbert being the main bowlers in that team.
The Sunday team had an interesting season with many friends made throughout the season. It reaped rewards with so many junior cricketers making their debuts – namely Jimmy Hook, Paddy Harrington and Jon Manton who all making their first steps into senior cricket throughout the season. After some tricky games where on one occasion the team fell to 6 for 6(!) the team grew throughout the season to see the boys finish in 6th place.
The junior sections continued to grow with the Under 11 being the first team from the academy to win silverware for the club winning the U11 League for the club whilst the other teams all had a fine season with no team within the club finishing outside the top 3.
In the 2013 season the club embarked on the first foray onto Lincolnshire cricket’s top table as well, with young Zimbabwean Campbell Light being the first overseas player for the club. Rob Ambrose was once again 1st XI skipper with Josh Newton becoming 1st XI vice skipper. Warren Nel was signed from Papplewick in the ECB Notts Premier League to strengthen the batting and Joe Broomfield and Maxwell Cusack came in from local rivals Moulton to boost an already impressive team. With an opening game that on paper may have looked quite even against Deeping, they were given a wake-up call being bowled out for 84. Afterwards the team improved to beat the drop – finishing 10th by a comfortable 26 points and beating recent champion Bracebridge Heath and Bourne in the process. During this time, Chris Dring also re-joined Spalding mid-season (having played at the club throughout the 90’s and 00’s) scoring a 50 in his first match to help the team beat relegation rivals Hartsholme. Nabeel Bhayla also joined the club for the second half of the season scoring 3 centuries in this time (2 on a Sunday, 1 on a Saturday)!
The 2nd XI were skippered in 2013 by Steve “Beefy” Norris who skippered the team very well, and with a strong team town were tipped by many to secure promotion at the end of the season to the South Lincs Premier League. Sadly it was not meant to be and for the second consecutive season the team finished just outside of the promotion reckoning to see the boys finish in 3rd once more.
The 3rd XI were captained throughout the season by Jim Clarke who led the youngsters to their highest ever position of 4th. With Joe Lyon, Jake Scampion and Jimmy Hook all playing an integral part in the team’s success with the ball and Sam Young and Ryan Plant both stepping up to the plate (Young scoring 3 senior 50’s in a row) to support the more senior players.
It was decided that the team would field 2 teams in the Rutland League in 2013. The 1st XI entering Division 3 were skippered by Tim Norris in what turned out to be a difficult season due to the unavailability of players. Town did however manage to finish 3rd in the league with Joe Lyon and Sanj Tott both shining with the ball throughout the season to see the team finish 4th in a very competitive league.
The Sunday 2nds were skippered by Jim Clarke once more with encouraging performances from George Senior, Jonny Manton, Paddy Harrington and Jonny Garner to name a few. The stand out player of the season was Tyler Wright who batted beautifully throughout the season. Despite this the team finished in 8th place out of 9 due to being unable to field a settled team.
The junior section really hit the forefront in the 2013 season with Sean Hook taking over as Chairman. The Under 13 team “Spitfires” coached by Heath Ripley won the league and the Under 15 team finished runners up in the league, the league cup and the county cup. With the creation of the Under 9 league team and the Under 11 finishing 2nd in the league, the academy was on an upward spiral!
It was also decided in 2013 that the ladies team had enough players to start playing friendly games throughout the season. This after a season or so of hard work and player recruiting by all involved, particularly head coach Tom Dale.
In the close season of 2013/4 Noel Harrington was appointed chairman of the club taking the club on from Heath Ripley who did a more than sterling job leading the club through its greatest period. Rob Ambrose (pictured collecting the ECB Lincs Prem Fair Play Award from former England batsman Graeme Fowler) was re-elected Club Skipper for a 3rd year and Steve Norris and Ben Edwards being elected as skippers of the 2nd and 3rd XI respectively. It was decided in the close season that the club would leave the Rutland League and have a more “social” cricket team on a Sunday afternoon.
The 1st XI had a more relaxing season with relegation never really being an option – even ideas of a top 5 finish occurred before finishing in the clubs best ever position of 9th place. Warren Nel was the pick of the batsman scoring an impressive 788 runs to finish in 5th place in the batting and pro Thivanka Rajaratne also featured in the top 10 with 717 runs. The return of Ben Smith and a fit again Henry Charlton showed that there was plenty of talent within the team. David Thomas excelled behind the stumps in his maiden 1st XI season.
The 2nd XI had an almighty battle with many tipping them to win the championship by some distance, with a season that had 8 defeats in 20 games in it Town managed to win promotion in the final game of the season edging out Billingborough 2nds to finish 2nd in the table to Grantham 2nds. Pick of the players were Mike Kearns Snr who was consistent throughout, and all-rounders Ansar Hussain and Jamie Juckes who weighed in with both runs and wickets.
The 3rd XI had a difficult season due to the youthfulness of the team but in the end finished 6th. Highlights of the season were Paddy Harrington who emerged as a very impressive top order batsman, Jonny Manton with the ball and both George Senior and Josh Lawrence who bowled and batted very well. Keith De Keyser, Rick Dale and Ian Wilson all helped to underpin the team with their experience to see the team slowly improve.
The ladies team (pictured), captained by Sarah Dale, entered into the Lincolnshire Ladies League in 2014 and finished joint champions only losing one game the whole season! The team grew from strength to strength throughout the season.
On the junior academy, Jim Clarke and Chris Dring took on the academy in 2014 and had much success with the Under 9 team finishing in 2nd place in the league. The high point was winning the Market Rasen junior festival with a player light.
The Under 13 team did very well reaching the league play offs and Paddy Harrington scoring 108* in the county cup game against Long Sutton was a real highlight.
But with so many players shining through throughout the season and so many being selected for representative matches both for county and district the future is bright for the club!
-Article courtesy of Jim Clarke