40 years of Shipton Cricket Club

shiptoncricketclubatlords2010The National Village Cup
This is one of the UK’s biggest national knock-out competitions and requires the champions to win nine or ten matches, with the final held at cricket’s holy-of holies, Lords. The club first entered in the mid-90s and we reached the final in 1997. Sam Mendes, who was a regular player in those days, hosted a meal for the team at the Groucho Club on the eve of the match – great fun but the hangovers didn’t necessarily improve our cricket! In the event the final was overshadowed by the overnight death of Princess Diana and there were doubts about proceeding with the match. But it went ahead and we lost to Caldy of The Wirral, who just happened to have four New Zealand lads in their team.

In 2002 we were back at Lords, and this time we won! We won again in 2003 and were losing finalists in 2010. These were great days for the club, and we enjoyed wonderful support from locals, taking coach loads not just to Lords but as far as Kent, Wales and Cornwall. The Parish Council also generously treated the team to a reception.

The senior teams
Throughout most of the 80s and 90s the club fielded two senior sides in the Cherwell League, and ran two Sunday sides. The backbone was provided by the local farming families, the Hartleys, the Badgers, the Barretts and Mark Meredith, and also the Gorton family. It was Roger Gorton who ran one of the Sunday sides and arranged highly popular tours to Devon, Guernsey and even Corfu. There was growing success on the field with an influx of new players in the early 90s, including ‘Big’ Jon Hartley, no relation, who came down from the Lancashire 2nd team. Under captain Paul Hemming, one of our most influential players, we won Division 1 of the Cherwell League in 2002, gaining promotion for the first time to the Home Counties Premier League (HCPL).

By 2002 we had a third team, initially playing home matches at Burford School, then, after the opening of the Nursery Ground, a 4thXI in 2012, thus becoming one of a tiny band of village clubs to support four senior teams.

After tremendous success in 2002/3, including an unbeaten run of 25 games, the 1stXI underwent a re-building phase before winning Division 1 again in 2011 and re-gaining a HCPL slot. In that year we were also T20 Champions and Oxfordshire Sports Team of the Year, enjoying an OCC reception at County Hall.

Progress hasn’t always led to more success: our women’s team were county champions in 2015 but folded within a couple of years, and over the last couple of seasons our 1st and 2nd XIs have struggled. Our 1sts are now back in Division 2 of the Cherwell League, re-building around a talented group of home-grown youngsters under 20-year-old captain, Charlie Miller.

youngcricketerstraining2017Youth cricket
Youth cricket has expanded massively over the past two decades, mainly under Jerry Senior and Charlie Barrett. It was Charlie who did so much to increase the number of coaches which enabled the dramatic rise in the number of juniors the club could train. He introduced coaching for 7-11 year olds – boys and girls – and started Friday night youth nights which have come to mean so much to children, parents and the club.

John Woods and I have added more coaches and player numbers have exceeded 200 in some years, helped greatly by the development of the Nursery ground and the opening of our new three-lane net facility in 2016. Now, with four senior sides playing league cricket, we can make the transition into senior cricket as seamless as possible.

The ground
We not only have one of the most beautiful and tranquil grounds in the county, it’s also one of the best, with two of the finest playing strips in the league. This is thanks to generations of groundsmen, latterly the meticulous Anthony Prior-Warndesforde.

The club, as we know it today, was formed 100 years ago in 1920, when cricket moved to the present ground. We bought the land in 1947 for £600 – quite an investment in those days! The tearoom was added in 1974, and practice nets in the 90s, but it was the acquisition of the field which was to become the Nursery ground that enabled the club to grow into one of the finest facilities in Oxfordshire. Financially the commitment has been, and remains, considerable, sustained only by the growth in participation and our loyal vice-presidents.

The people who make it happen
I could not do justice to all those who have committed so much of their time and energy to the club over the decades; some are mentioned above. Of those who aren’t, Brian Gorton, Geoff Miles, Stephen Brain and Russell Hayes deserve the greatest praise, often with their families. Each, as Chairman or President, has been a stalwart of the club and presided over part of its growth and most successful years. They in turn have relied upon the countless volunteers who have coached, made teas, prepared pitches, cleaned changing rooms, pulled pints, and patched wounds and bruised egos over the years. Hopefully, they will continue to do so in the years to come because there will be no cricket club without them.

Graham Nelson

April – May 2020