Bats of Willow and Balls of Leather

The History of Burbage Cricket Club


Burbage Heritage Group acknowledges the help and assistance of many people in compiling the information that made this book possible. The club members, past and present who have given photographs and memorabilia, and those who have written to us or given an oral account of their reminiscences. Burbage Heritage Group also recognises and appreciates the contribution made by the Lottery Heritage Initiative, The Lutterworth Museum, The Leicester Mercury, The Hinckley Times, Hinckley Library, Leicester Record Office and the various clubs and organisations in Wales, Scotland and Suffolk. In particular we appreciate the wealth of information concerning Wilfrid Ashford Hall from his niece in Virginia U.S.A. and the Burbage Heritage Group wishes to express its gratitude to the principal researchers Ann and Bob Crabtree and the support given to them by Ann and Peter Hall, John McNaughton, John and Kath Robbins, Geoff and Sylvia Whitworth and David Wood. Our gratitude and thanks go to Elite Printing for their professionalism and for their help with the design and production of this book.

Foreword — How it all Began

Bats of Willow and Balls of Leather
Receiving the grant from Lisa Kirman of the Local Heritage Initiative (L.H.I.) at the cricket ground in June 2004 — the 100 on the Scoreboard refers to the fact that this was the 100th grant in the East Midlands Area. Left to right: Ian Crisp, Chairman Burbage Cricket Club, Bob Crabtree and Sylvia Whitworth, Burbage Heritage Group, Lisa Kir man, L.H.I.

Very often important events are triggered by coincidence. For many years Fred Pearson, the President of Burbage Cricket Club, had caught the bus from his home on Sketchley Road to the ground off Grove Road and arrived in time for tea. In his late eighties, he had already clocked up sixty years membership of the club. He would sit, have a cup of tea and piece of fruit cake and reminisce about the 'good old days' and always a touch of the bat or an incident in the field would be enough for him to recall how 'old so and so' had played the stroke. As the summers passed, Fred had a fall which caused him to spend some time in convalescence at Sunnyside Hospital, but he was allowed out each Saturday afternoon to indulge his passion. He often returned to hospital a little merry and we were told that his intake of ale could be no more than half a pint! But through all these years we never thought to write down or record his memories of village cricket life and of course that fact was regretted when Fred died in the autumn of 2002 at the grand age of 94.

The following year I happened to be at the Annual General Meeting of the Leicestershire & Rutland Rural Community Council and browsing among the information stalls; one small booklet caught my eye — a history of Sutton in Ashfield Cricket Club. I mentioned that I was associated with the cricket club in Burbage and we had often thought that an interesting history could be written about that club and was told immediately that funding and help was available if we wished to go down that route.

A meeting of the Burbage Heritage Group established that the Group would be supportive of anyone wishing to undertake that task and contact was made with officials of the Heritage Lottery Fund, forms and questionnaire completed and in the spring of 2004 Burbage Heritage Group was informed that a grant of £15,923 had been made for a three year study of cricket in Burbage and a history of the club in particular.

The Club Badge — designed by Keith Barnett and first used in 1981.
The Club Badge — designed by Keith Barnett and first used in 1981.

Acknowledgement is made and sincere thanks given for all the help we have received from the Group over the past three years and from Burbage Cricket Club members past and present; relatives of past members and many other people in Burbage and Hinckley who have had interesting stories to tell us and have given us photographs to copy and archive.

We have been able to give several presentations to local schools, the cricket club, the Burbage Heritage Group and assemble exhibitions of the memorabilia we have accumulated at the Millennium Hall, Burbage Common Open Days, school fetes and Hinckley Museum. This has been a really rewarding exercise, sometimes frustrating when the research does not bear any fruit but wonderful to think that we have been in touch with people from all over England, Scotland and Wales and the United States of America to bring this story together.

We understand Keith Barnett and Pete Caddy investigated the origins of the village name and incorporated the thistle into the design for the club badge. This was first used in 1981. Both Keith and Peter were stalwarts of the club and served on the committee for several years. Keith and Peter also served on the committee of the South Leicestershire League, Keith taking on the role of match results secretary; his duties included compiling the results over the weekend into league tables (this was before the invention of spreadsheets on the computer) and Keith was given the Reg Towers Secretary Award in 1992. Peter kept the accounts for the club as treasurer and his immaculate procedures and attention to detail can be seen in the books which were given over to this project. For his efforts Peter was awarded the Ernest Wright Trophy in 1990.

Ann Crabtree, 2007