Bats of Willow and Balls of Leather

The History of Burbage Cricket Club

Progress After the 1970s

At the beginning of the 1970s negotiations were opened with the Urban District Council for the use of the disused toilets as a kit store. After several meetings with the district surveyor, there was agreement to remove the toilets and the internal walls so that the club could use the building. The 1970s witnessed the introduction of an eight-a-side mid week competition and the club entered this League and were successful in 1976 this competition.

During the decade the 1st team were playing in Division II of the South Leicestershire League and the 2nd team in lower Divisions — getting 1977 in winning promotion was proving very difficult. The junior sides won the Minor Division title in 1970 and 1971 and the G R Bevin knock-out cup in 1971.

Mid week 8-a-side winners in 1976 Mid week winners again in 1977
Mid week 8-a-side winners in 1976. L-R Back: Albert Wright, John Grewcock, Dave Hincks, Bev Slater. Front: Keith Towers, Alan Grant, John Timson, Bill Bright. (left/top)
Mid week winners again in 1977. L-R Back: Ken Grant, Mick Clark, Bev Slater, Fred Pearson. Front: Albert Wright, John Timson, Paul Shackman, Tony Martin, Dick Mawby. (right/bottom)

Division III runners up 1973 Burbage 2nd team 1976 Division V champions
Division III runners up 1973. L-R Back: Rodney Grove, Keith Towers, Derek Shilton, Bev Slater, Graham Rixon, Colin Pemberton, RoyHaddon. Front: Mick Clark, Alan Grant, Alan Hoult, Albert Wright, Craig Mannering. (left/top)
Burbage 2nd team 1976 Division V champions. L-R Back: P Harris, M Phillpot, B Bright, S Thompson, D Hincks, M Clark. Front: R Mawby, F Muston, P Caddy, A Grant, A Wright, K Towers. (right/bottom)

The time for consolidation brought its rewards at the beginning of the 1980s. The 1st team won the 2nd Division championship in 1981 and were promoted to the 1st Division and in 1983 the team won that championship and the A J Norton Cup — a great triumph for the club. Following the successful 1983 season, Keith Barnett compiled a Club Yearbook detailing all the matches played that year by 1st, 2nd, Sunday, U18 and U15 teams. Keith is a member of the Association of Cricket Statisticians. The information from that book details a bowling performance by Ian Crisp showing that he played in ten matches, bowled 125.3 overs, conceded 251 runs and took 32 wickets at an average of 7.84. There was a hope that this first Yearbook would be continued, but unfortunately this has not happened.

Burbage cricket team in 1978 Burbage 1st team — Division II Champions 1981
Burbage cricket team in 1978. L-R Back: P Shackman, M Snow, A Grant, M Clark, I Crisp, T Martin, R Haddon. Front: J Timson, R Cotton, J Wale, S Burnage, S Taylor. (left/top)
Burbage 1st team — Division II Champions 1981. L-R Back: K Towers, D Ratcliffe, B Slater, D Dawkins, K Grant, J Hall, I Crisp, D Hincks. Front: M Snow, N Bright, S Taylor, J Timson, P Harris, J Veasey, K Barnett. (right/bottom)

Victorious Burbage cricketers in 1983 — Division I Champions and Norton Cup Winners
Victorious Burbage cricketers in 1983 — Division I Champions and Norton Cup Winners.
L-R Back: Ian Crisp, Alan Hoult, Alan Grant, S Burnage, Ken Grant, Keith Towers, G Whitehurst. Middle: John Timson, John Hall (capt), A/tick Snow, Dave Dawkins. Front: Tony Martin, M Bennett.

No history of Burbage Cricket Club would be complete without a reference to Clarendon Nomads, their local arch rivals for forty years. The Nomads were formed in 1964 by a group of players who had left the Hinckley College team — Clarendon because they first met at the home of Geoff and Shelagh Haddon on Clarendon Road and Nomads because they had no home. After forming a club and joining the South Leicestershire Cricket League, the team played on Richmond Park for four or five years until about 1970 when they moved to the Rugby Road ground, formerly used by the Sketchley pic Sports and Social Club. The ground had come under the administration of the Urban District Council and Clarendon Nomads were granted use of the ground. The old wooden pavilion was the same one that had been opened in 1925 and was now in a very poor condition, so poor in fact that on one occasion an umpire went through the floorboards! The Nomads embarked on fund raising to build a new pavilion and raised over £900 by undertaking a relay walk from Lords in London to their ground in Burbage. The pavilion was largely self-built by club members and completed about 1981 and for the next twenty years served The club very well.

Unfortunately the pavilion became the target of vandalism on a grand scale and the club was forced to abandon their ground because they could not provide the facilities the League demanded. In 2003 the Nomads joined with Swallows Green to form Hinckley Cricket Club and now play at Barwell Lane. Several Clarendon players joined Burbage to continue the tradition of playing in the village.

Burbage and Nomads both used the Cross Keys as their base and stories abound of heavy drinking on Friday evenings before a derby game, wagers being laid between players that resulted in naked bodies in the bar! The party would continue the following evening after the game. One report suggests they continued the merry making at one of the player's residences until the early hours of Monday morning in time to depart for work.

Victorious Minor Division Champions in 1984 or 1985 — Burbage won both years
Victorious Minor Division Champions in 1984 or 1985 — Burbage won both years.

Keith Barnett recalled the next few years as being difficult ones for the club. The 1989 season had been successful following some lean years. The second team had, for the first time, won the W J Burbage Cup by beating Oadby at Barwell Lane, the team consisting mainly of junior players with only two seniors as part of the squad. However, during the winter a number of senior players decided to part company with the club and it was obvious that it would be difficult to continue in the League. There were some exploratory discussions with Clarendon Nomads about amalgamation but nothing came of them and, at a meeting between Ian Crisp, Keith Barnett and John Hall, John said "why don't we try for one side so the juniors can have a game". An approach to the League resulted in the club being given a position in Division IV for the 1990 season. A near miss with Dunkley's Mobile Shop on the away journey to Ullesthorpe gave way to the feeling that things could only get better and get better they did. The team finished 4th in the division and the following year the team topped that division by 48 points and only lost one match. A young Chris Shilton took divisional bowling honours with 30 wickets for an average of 6.23.

Into Division III for 1991, the team gained promotion that year and they won the Hickling Cup. An even greater result was that players returned to the club and a second team was formed, finishing near the bottom of Division V in 1992 and gaining promotion in 1993. The last match of the season against Bedworth Snooker Club was a vital one with a last wicket survival resulting in Burbage winning the Division and Bedworth coming second.

The resurgence was completed in 1994 with the first team winning the Division I title, again by 48 points, and this time Lee Shilton (Chris younger brother) taking bowling honours with 35 wickets at an average of 6.45. There was further triumph for the first team in winning the 1994 Norton Cup against Hinckley Amateurs. The seconds in that season also bowled out Hinckley Town III for 16 and St Peter's Co-op for 25!

After near extinction the club had revived its fortunes in five years and had consolidated its place in the South Leicestershire League.

John Hall joined Burbage from the Hinckley College team around 1980. As well as playing regularly in the 1st team and later the 2nds, John became committed to developing the young cricketers at Burbage. John's son, Graham, was a very promising player and he was part of the team that was successful during the mid 80s in winning the Minor Division championship three times in the decade. The youngsters who had triumphed in 1989 won the U18 League Cup and the Bevin Minor Knock-out competition in 1991. John continues to manage the U15 and U17 teams driving the youngsters to away matches, umpiring and coaching each week throughout the year. John is occasionally called upon to play on a Saturday afternoon, but as with other wicket keepers, his knees are not always dependable.

Burbage 2nds win the Burbage Cup in 1989 Burbage U18s — winners of the Bevin Minor Knock Out Cup and Ul 8s League Cup winners in 1991
Burbage 2nds win the Burbage Cup in 1989. L-R Back: Fred Pearson, John Hall Graham. Foster, Ian Crabtree, Graham Hall, Matthew Leech, Dave Marshall, Nick Bright, Eddie Leech. Front: Jeremy Boxall, Simon Johnson, Keith Barnett, Dale Stringer, Ian Turton. (left/top)
Burbage U18s — winners of the Bevin Minor Knock Out Cup and U18s League Cup winners in 1991. L-R Back: Keith Towers, Andrew Moore, Alex Storer, Graham Hall, Ian Crabtree, Craig Button, Phil Stoney, John Hall. Front: Mark Lilley, Jon Stoney, Adam Dagley, Jonny Moore, Chris Shilton, Omar Ahmad. (right/bottom)

Another member of the winning 1983 team is Ian Crisp who has been a club member since 1966. His playing days are now largely over but he can be found each week driving the heavy motor roller across the wicket and preparing the playing surface for games each weekend. A keen groundsman, he is very knowledgeable about the work necessary to keep the wicket in good condition throughout the season. The wickets get a great deal of wear over the 4 months from May to August — there are three senior teams and five junior teams playing matches and it is a difficult job ensuring that a prepared wicket is available when required. The wicket is of such a high standard due to lan's commitment that the League has held representative matches here on several occasions.

Burbage 1st team victorious again in 1994 with the Norton Cup
Burbage 1st team victorious again in 1994 with the Norton Cup. L-R Back: Jonny Moore, Fred Pearson, Ian Crisp, Chris Shilton, Dave Marshall, Eddie Leech, Graham Hall, Chris Porter, Keith Barnett Front: Steve Taylor, Lee Shilton, Dave Hincks, Geoff Whetton, Andy Wood.

The first team enjoyed Norton Cup success again in 1998. There was no report in the local press, or any photo to record the victory, but we have found a report archived at the Hinckley Times which was never printed. This reads:

"'Burbage lifted the Norton Cup at Leicester Road after a thrilling final with Blaby which saw them scrape home by one run in almost identical circumstances to their win over Hinckley Amateur in 1994. Having completed one giant killing act with a victory over Premier Division side Hinckley Amateur in the semi final, 1st Division Burbage added another Premier Division title chasing scalp to their list to spark lengthy celebrations. Having been put into bat, Burbage struggled early on, on a damp wicket and found themselves at 31-2 halfway through their 24 over allocation. But some big hitting from Jon Moore (31) and Mick Snow (34) helped them smash another 83 runs off the final 12 overs to leave their opponents a target of 115 the following night. Blaby set off steadily but lost wickets at crucial moments throughout their innings in the face of some tight Burbage bowling. Burbage's fielding was also exceptional and one catch by Dave Marshall on the extra cover boundary epitomised his side's commitment in the field. As the last over began, Blaby needed seven runs to win but a nerveless Ian Crisp conceded only three runs off the bat and two leg byes to clinch a sensational victory by one run."

The Dave Marshall catch was off the bowling of Omar Ahmad. Prior to the delivery Omar's father, Bashir, elicits from the boundary a prayer to Allah which Omar repeats to himself and his prayers are answered. The ball was hit towards deep cover and is in the air for, what seems, some considerable amount of time. Dave Marshall, fielding at long off, runs about 25 yards, or was it 30 or 40 yards, in pursuit of the ball and makes a desperate lunge to his left and scoops the ball inches from the turf to take one of the finest catches at any level of cricket you could see on any ground anywhere in the world.