Bats of Willow and Balls of Leather

The History of Burbage Cricket Club

Club Presentation Nights

The social side of the club has always been very important. Smoking concerts before the First World War with singing and entertainment were held at the Cross Keys Inn or at the Liberal Club. After the Second World War, in the 50s and 60s club dinners were held at the Women's Conservative Association premises on Grove Road known locally as the 'hut' when over 100 members and guests would sit down to a formal dinner and the caterers were Johnson's of Lutterworth. Guests included County players and former club players. During the 1960s players who topped the batting averages were still awarded a bat — we do not know when that practice finished, but bats are not presented today. At the club dinners the contribution of the wives for providing the teas was recognised with gifts of flowers and stockings and a committee member was asked to buy the lingerie!

When the hut was demolished the dance floor was taken to Woodhouse Farm on Burbage Common the home of May and John White and forms part of the outbuildings still in use today. For many years during the 1960s Alf Malkin was a prominent member of the Dinner Committee organising the annual event. Chairs and trestles were borrowed from the Conservative Club tickets printed by Dave Hincks (Elite Printing) for about 200 guests and flowers and nylons bought as gifts for the ladies who helped with the teas. Very often vouchers were given to the best batsmen and bowlers. For 17s 6d in 1967 members enjoyed a dinner prepared by Johnson's caterers of Lutterworth, dancing to Ken Bown and his band and those who only wanted to dance were charged 4 shillings. Hinckley Urban District Council also provided pot plants and flowers for the occasion! Alf was elected a Life Member in 1967.

A very young David Gower presented the trophies in 1977.
A very young David Gower presented the trophies in 1977.

After the closure of the Conservative 'hut' another venue was sought for the annual dinner. In 1971 the Bounty was chosen. For 2 per head the members enjoyed soup, roast turkey roast and creamed potatoes, Brussels and peas followed by a choice of sweet and dancing to a live band. Later the club dinners moved to the Carousel restaurant now renamed the Stage Door adjacent to the Concordia Theatre where the formal dinners continued. In 1976 Norman Dagley (world billiards champion) presented a young Tony Martin with a trophy for scoring 100 — the first century by a Burbage player for 15 years. His century which came in 70 minutes included 14 fours and his 50 was scored in just 18 minutes. Tony was a talented all rounder and was invited to play for the League in representative matches. In 1977 a very young David Gower presented the trophies. He had joined Leicestershire two years earlier as an 18 year old and the next year would make his first Test appearance against Pakistan.

The Stage Door restaurant continues to be used as a venue for Presentation Nights although they are a lot less formal now and a buffet is provided rather than a formal dinner. There are also very few ladies present on these occasions. For the past few years, teas have been provided by the Cross Keys Inn because it has become more difficult to find wives or mothers willing to spend a Saturday making sandwiches and cakes for twenty two hungry players and umpires. The League imposes a top limit of £25 for the cost of teas and these are paid by the visiting team.

Happy trophy recipients at the dinner in 1984 Presentation night 2005
Happy trophy recipients at the dinner in 1984 following a very successful 1983 season, winning the Division I championship, the Norton Cup and the UISs winning their league — Chris Balderstone of Leicestershire and England presented the prizes. (left/top)
Presentation night 2005 — U13s the first recipients of the Fred Pearson Memorial Shield given by Tony Martin in memory of the late President. (right/bottom)