Broadwindsor Cricket Club

A Brief history of the Broadwindsor Cricket Club (BCC)

Prepared in anticipation of the Club’s Centenary in 2023.

The earliest records of the Broadwindsor Cricket Club are to be found in an Army Book ’97 – a ledger referring to 1897, which may have been provided by the earliest Chair who we see in the records, Brigadier-General Staveley. On November 8, 1923, the records reflect that “a meeting of Village residents held at the village hall decided to start a village cricket club.” The Rev. G. Ford was elected secretary and the first captain was D. MacKenzie.

The next year, 1924, the first accounts reflect an annual expenditure of 22 pounds 2 shillings and 4 pence. The annual dinner Cricket Dinner was held at George Hotel, and cost a whopping £3 5/10-. Other major expenditures included four cricket balls, which even then cost a crown.

By 1929, we have the full team’s averages. L. Swaffield batted six times, with five ducks and one run, for 0.16 runs per innings. C. Bartlett – a very local name – topped both the batting and the bowling with 176 runs in 14 innings at the mighty rate of 12.54 a game, and 60 wickets at 4.46 each. Surprisingly, they won 8, lost 6 and drew one match, which makes one wonder at the other teams. The team never scored 100 runs between them (83 was the highest score), though the opposition once reached 185. General Staveley writes regretting the late payment of his annual subscription of 7 shillings.

A fixture card was first printed in 1932, with thirty copies printed by the local Bridport printers, Hine & Sons for 14/6-. In 1932, they were hosting teams at the George Hotel from Charmouth, Powerstock, Hinton St George and Cricket St Thomas (who, if they lived up to their name, perhaps were rather better batters) for as much at 12 shillings a match.

On April 8, 1933, the team invested in its first club bat – a Wally Hammond, at thirty shillings from H.J. Perris in Yeovil, albeit with 10% off when they paid cash within 28 days. By now, balls were going for seven and six. The team spent six pence on whiting for their hobnail boots and 4 pence to call Powerstock (who seem to have been late for a match).

We recently discovered the team’s first score book, bought in 1933 for 2/6-. In the first game recorded, H. Badoe opened and was out first ball, as the team struggled to 62 all out from 20.2 overs, with C. Bartlett top scoring with 18. We might think this a weak score – surely they lost? – until we see the third game against North Perrott where they were all out in 12 overs for 14 runs. This time W. Hardy top scored with 5, and S. Radford took 7 wickets for 1 run. The book does not show how long it took N. Perrott to knock off the runs – perhaps they lost? Later that year, on the return fixture, they scored 24 all out, and won by six runs with C. Bartlett taking 8-for-1.  The first six recorded in the scorebook did not come, appropriately, until the sixth year, unfortunately in a crushing defeat for BCC by a local team that actually amassed more than 100.

The names are very local. The team that year might be mistaken for many a year in the area, with a Bartlett, two Gales, an A. Crawford, and a C. Smith, though their C. Smith was rather higher in the batting order than our own occasional member, in addition to opening the bowling, taking 8-for-20 against Axminster (all out 55).

It was not until September 24, 1965 that the club finally got its own ground, generously provided by Mr. Middleton-Hands. There was some question that year whether the BCC would fold after 42 years, but the minutes of the meeting that year reflect that Mr. Middleton-Hinds “very kindly offered the paddock in front of Broadwindsor House as the club ground.” It was rough ground, and “he kindly offered to lend the Club his mower and graciously agreed to be President.” He also offered some wooden loose boxes to serve as the first club house.

C. Bartlett – club hero of the ’20s – detailed how they would have to level the area and improve the ground. The ground was mowed close, treated with marle, sprayed with selective weed killers, and worked level with a vibrator. Gundrys, the famous net company until recently responsible for the Bridport Dagger (the hangman’s noose, with capital punishment finally abolished in 1969), was approached to create the first nets – expiating some of the town’s corporate guilt.

The club ethos was formed, where “those that play must work and pay. This was agreed by all those present, and it was unanimously agreed to carry on with the Broadwindsor Cricket Club.”

In 1965, setting a standard that has been emulated by others over almost a century, “Mr. Bridges very kindly offered £10 towards equipment and 2-3 hours work each week on preparation and maintenance of the pitch.”

Mr. Middleton-Hands was elected president in 1965 and served for 13 years. In 1975, the fixture list recorded 25 matches, and for the first time two of the six Vice-Presidents were women (there were still two colonels among the club officers). There was an Under 17 and an Under 13 team. Funds towards the annual budget (now over £100) came from various sources, including an annual Whist drive at “The Comrades Hall” in Broadwindsor.

1979 was the year when records first record the appearance of one of the current players – captain Adrian “Ade” Philips, who took 12 wickets at 16.66 each, and scored 120 runs at 12.
Ade will once again be the club captain in 2020, after 41 years with the club, leading the team on the field as well as carrying out more than his fair share of the upkeep of the ground. Ade also helps to run the Knapp Inn, the local pub, along with Lesley (the landlady). It is to the Knapp that the team repairs after each match (and rather more often than that).

The team has spent a great deal of time and money improving the ground. The records reflect that they hired a tractor for several years, starting in 1977. The records reflect various requests made by Mr Middleton-Hands for particular issues of up-keep, each of which was immediately carried out.

When her husband sadly passed away, Sara Middleton-Hands continued in the same generous vein, granting the club a continued licence in 1980 “on the same terms as heretofor” – which has always reflected the club’s charter (that its entire raison d’être is for the encouragement of sport in the community, such that no funds from the club may be spent on anything else).

As time went by, with trust fully established that the club would always act responsibly, the owners allowed the club to build a permanent pavilion. The first was established in 1985, at the modest cost to the club of £200. A proper pavilion was built in 2011 at a cost of £23,000, with additional investment of £4,655 going into running water and electricity. The club also rebuilt the machinery shed (£2,000). In 2018, the club inherited the Bridport score box when the cricket club there sadly became defunct.

Over the years, the club has engaged in many and varied ways of raising funds, from the Whist Drives of the Sixties to the Skittles Week of the Eighties to the Pub Quiz of 2019, in addition to the annual subscriptions and match fees. As a non-profit organisation, the club’s constitution ensures that the club and the ground will always be devoted to sport in perpetuity and can never make a profit or use the funds in any other way.

In 2007, the ground was included in the annual Wisden Calendar, where the famous cricket publishers were celebrating “the UK’s loveliest cricket grounds,” and Broadwindsor was in the top five.

The picture in Wisden’s calendar shows the beech hedge at its apogee, but recently the proprietors of the large building just beyond the ground – Broadwindsor House, which is now a retirement home – asked the team to trim the hedge a couple of feet lower so that the elderly residents could enjoy watching cricket all summer long, with the sound of leather on willow, and the cries of “Howzat!”

2019 saw 40 matches involving perhaps 400 different players. There is the main BCC team that plays in the more serious league in the area. After playing many years of friendlies against local and touring teams, BCC decided to join the mid-Wessex cricket league in 1993, starting at the lowest level, Division 4 (South). After 18 years – when we were promoted five times and relegated twice – the club reached their Holy Grail, winning the Division 1 title in 2011. Since then we have achieved two more titles (in 2013 and 2014) and held the runner-up spot four times (2010, 2012, 2018 and 2019). 

There is also the Middleton-Hands Trophy, a limited overs competition established in 1983 and named after the generous benefactors. This is played in the evenings as the sun slants down behind Broadwindsor House. Ten local teams play 23 fixtures, culminating in the grand final in September.

There are a number of touring teams, some of which have made BCC part of their tours for almost fifty years. The BCC has a strong emphasis on encouraging youth, while at the same time welcoming some who have themselves played for half a century (even if some of us rarely score one).

As the Club approaches its Centenary, the members have approached the National Cricket Academy and the Lottery Fund to identify resources that will ensure the future, and allow for continued improvements of the ground. This is the goal between now and 2023, to ensure that the club prospers for another 100 years, bringing several more generations into the game.

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