Earl Stonham Cricket Club was originally founded in 1954 and cricket was played from then until 1966 when the club sadly folded. In 1988 Earl Stonham Cricket Club was re-formed by a group of local enthusiasts (initiated by John Player and Derek Griffiths) when Stowmarket CC, who had been using the Earl Stonham ground, relocated into Stowmarket. The following summer the first fixtures were played and soon the decision was taken to apply for entry to league cricket.
The club joined the Mick McNeil Suffolk Cricket League and over the next few seasons made steady progress through the divisions until reaching Division One, by which time the league had become the Harpers Sports Suffolk Cricket League. However, in 2005 the restructuring of local league cricket resulted in the Harpers League becoming a Sunday league and a decision was taken to apply to the Club Colours Suffolk Premier Cricket League in order to continue playing cricket on Saturdays. After winning the Suffolk Premier League in 2011, the club decided to switch again to the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Cricket Championship.
Meadlands Cricket Club were ground-sharing with Earl Stonham CC during 2005 and 2006. At the end of a successful 2006 season a joint decision was made between members of Earl Stonham CC and Meadlands CC for Meadlands CC to become Earl Stonham CC’s second XI for the benefit of both clubs. The Earl Stonham second XI play on Sundays in the Hunts County Bats Suffolk Cricket League.
1954 – 1966
The following piece of writing is a quaint and somewhat intriguing account of Earl Stonham Cricket Club between 1954 and 1966 written by one of its founding members, Colin Edgar.
Cricket Lovely Cricket
I started playing for Earl Stonham in 1959, although the club was formed in 1954. By 1966 our playing strength had dwindled and in order to fulfil that seasons fixture list (before the club finally closed) I had to draw in friends and some players from school. During 1959 to 1966 we played on wickets which were very dodgy and high scores were hard to come by. Some grounds I remember well, Saxtead Green (the little triangle near the windmill where the wicket keeper was only a few yards from the road), Kerrison School, Thorndon (‘That bowler coming on killed his Mum and Dad’) and Brundish (where the pavilion key was kept under the roller). Some outfields were made more interesting by the occasional cow pat. The following players from that time spring readily to mind: Bill Chaplin, Don Dix, Tony Stiff, Roy Rivers, Cyril Rush, George Beaumont, Gordon Hannay (rarely sober), Fred Morley, Michael Beaumont, Maurice Rivers, Robin Wrinch, Trevor Meggs, Ody Stannard, John Hill, Malcolm Elliot and Keith Tydeman.
Colin Edgar, 2006
Club Reformation in 1988
Earl Stonham Cricket Club celebrated its resurrection in the Autumn of 1988 after nearly twenty years in oblivion. Stowmarket and District C.C. had just returned to town with a new ground and clubhouse, having played its cricket at Forward Green for a number of years. I had captained Stowmarket Third XI in that last summer, but had no desire to leave the village green for Chilton Fields. From a chance meeting in the ‘Dog’ with villagers Terry Clarke (landlord), Derek Griffiths (local worthy) and John Adams (a real cricketer), it became apparent that there was a genuine desire to keep cricket in the village for the young (and not so young) people of the village. An autumn get-together was advertised for all interested parties.
Over twenty people turned up at the pub in time for that first meeting, very keen to see the rebirth of village cricket and even more keen to get off to Yarmouth to celebrate Dave Porch’s stag night, leaving 5 of us to conduct the business! However, a second and subsequent meetings followed, lots of attendees, officers appointed, funds raised, mowers assembled, kit purchased, site screens repainted and the winter passed in an atmosphere of enthusiastic and energetic anticipation.
Spring came and the first games were celebrated with large crowds, fun events, post match festivities – a great success. I’ll leave others to tell the rest of the story, but just a few memories: Neil (Buff) Chaplin’s box falling out of his boxers; Stonham’s first (and only) streaker; Diver on the boundary spreadeagled and surrounded by beer cans; Griff shouting “One Pound” at every fund raising event; lots of ‘fat blokes’ in the close fielding positions.
This website needs your memories to jog mine…
John Player, 2006
Competitive Cricket Era
Since those early days of the re-formed ESCC, described by John, the face of local club and village cricket has changed a lot. League cricket took almost complete hold of the game in this area and so ESCC joined the Mick McNeil League in the early 1990s – not to the liking of everyone at the club – and were winners of Division 4 in 1995.
During the next twenty-five years or so the league structure changed continually and the Mick McNeil League became the Harpers Sports Suffolk League which then moved to Sundays. In order to continue playing Saturday cricket ESCC joined the Club Colours Suffolk Premier League.
Because the winners of the Suffolk Premier League each season could be ‘promoted’ into the Two Counties, and usually chose to take that option without any clubs moving in the opposite direction, by 2011 it was clear that the SPL had diminished to the point where it was no longer viable. The options were to win the SPL, which would gain us entry to Division Four of the Two Counties, or, if we did not win it, to be moved into the lowest division of the Two Counties in 2012 along with the remaining Suffolk Premier League clubs.
To the great credit of all those who played that season we won the League and were duly admitted to the Two Counties, Division Four, for 2012.
However that proved to be something of a poisoned chalice as we were not quite up to sustaining that Division Four place and were relegated to Division Five. There we have remained, in some seasons more comfortably than others, and that is quite an achievement for a small rural club such as ours.
Along the way, as well as the league successes, the club also reached the final of the Suffolk Federation Cup in 2008, finishing runners-up to Exning.
The amalgamation with Meadlands CC, after they had to find a new home, meant that we were able to run two sides and that has been a positive benefit to the club which continues to this day.
For many years the club had harboured the ‘Dream’. ‘The Dream’ was to have our own facilities rather than having to change in the Village Hall where there were no showers and where the rooms were not really suitable for use as changing facilities. The Two Counties requires its member clubs to comply with certain minimum standards regarding playing conditions, equipment and changing facilities. Since we could not meet those standards in respect of off-the-field facilities we had to bite the bullet and try to provide proper changing-rooms and showers.
To cut a long story short, with significant help from our ever-supportive President, Tony Porch, and great assistance from Derek Griffiths, James Griffiths, David Porch and David Wicks in 2016 our purpose-built pavilion was opened by Sharon Porch in front of a good crowd of local supporters. County Councillor Matthew Hicks and Mid-Suffolk District Council also gave excellent support to the project, and the Building Fund accumulated by the club over the years was a significant contributor to its success.
Over the years since 1988 the club has had a number of captains. The first was John Adams, a fine cricketer and the ideal choice to get the team up and running.
Simon Edgar, a founder member in 1988, has captained the club for the most seasons and recently passed 10,000 runs for ESCC, a record which will probably last for a very long time – and he is not finished yet!
Rob Wrinch took the reins for two seasons, although it was difficult for him to combine captaining the club with all the demands on a farmer once the harvest began.
Charlie Tunstall was captain of the club for two two-season spells and it was under Charlie that the GKSPL was won. As well as scoring plenty of runs for ESCC Charlie was a top bowler and holds the Two Counties Division Five record for most wickets in a season with fifty-five in 2015.
Jonny Hails also took on the responsibility for two years and we managed to maintain the Division Five place under his leadership.
The latest incumbent is Stephen Lewis who has, like a number of other members over the years, been with the club since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.
ESCC on Tour
The social side has always been a feature of the club from fun-and-games in the Shepherd and Dog garden after matches in the early days to the hi-jinks on a number of tours.
Admission to the Two Counties led to the demise of the tour as we are committed to fixtures every Saturday of the season from mid-April to the second week in September but in the early days the club toured in Devon and in later years visited the west of England.
In the late 1990s we based ourselves in the Staffordshire area on a few Whitsun Bank Holiday weekends, partly because of Colin Edgar’s connection with Abbots Bromley, whom we played against three times, and also because one of Derek Griffiths’ rugby contacts, a certain David Ling, offered to help get us another fixture against his club, Elford.
The results were mixed, as was the weather, but each tour had its own character. For those who made some or all of the trip’s highlights, if that is the right word, included:
The Tweedale Arms,
the Trumpton Bus, enlivened as it trundled towards Abbotts Bromley by the outraged exclamations of the farmers when crop circles were spotted in the fields,
the match in the field against the Drayton Manor Cricket and Snooker Club where players returning to the changing-room found spectators sitting there watching the game,
The White Hart in Uttoxeter where the power supply failed totally and nothing worked (and which is now, remarkably, a luxury hotel),
the match against Warwick CC where we thought we might just struggle on discovering that they employed a professional South African groundsman,
the two-hour trek across Warwickshire to play at a local recreation ground where the grass was a foot high, the wicket was artificial and the pavilion was surrounded by a protective wire fence,
our IT whizz Howard Newton leaping on to the Bus and trying to make a phone call on his mobile only to discover that he was holding his TV remote control in his hand,
the injured Abbotts Bromley batsman christened ‘Broken Bob’ – a nickname which stuck – by Derek Griffiths in his traditional, inimitable after-match speech,
the Indian Restaurant where several tourists experienced a never-to-be-forgotten evening which was replicated memorably, wilting flowers and all, by Rob Porch, Richard Burston and others at Grange Farm. ‘Deanie’ Dix unaccountably went back the following year to check if it had improved at all – it hadn’t!
Rob Porch was a significant contributor to the mayhem on those memorable weekends. On one occasion Colin and Pam Bloom returned to their hotel room to find it totally devoid of furniture; various tourists found that their doors, unaccountably, seemed to be roped to other people’s door handles and one local was very annoyed when Rob showed him that he could turn someone’s pint into a cake! Scone – and it was! One of the more unusual aspects of ESCC touring parties at that time was that a mixed group made the trips. Some clubs still insist on male-only touring parties but ours were inclusive and thoroughly enjoyed by all. The atmosphere at Elford when the ESCC Cheerleaders were in full swing was something special and Jennie Griffiths was the champion at the pub garden games the year the Elford game was rained off!
‘Spoof’ has always been one of the post-match games and for many years after the tours ceased the cry of ‘Tamworth 9’ would be heard during games, much to the irritation of those who had not been present on the tours. These days, however, an abbreviated version using only two coins per player is the norm. Otherwise the younger members get bored. No further comment is necessary!
The club’s statistics are available elsewhere on this site but it is interesting to note some of the outstanding performances.
In bowling the best return for the club was Howard Newton’s 8 wickets for 12 runs and Charlie Tunstall took 5 wickets or more in an innings on no fewer than eighteen occasions. Charlie, along with Paul Adams and Shaun Wright also took 8 wickets in an innings.
As for the best batting, Paul Adams, son of John, has the highest score with 181 and Charlie Tunstall, Rob Wrinch, Luke Edgar and Sam Fenning all have scores of 150 or more.
Behind the scenes there have always been club members who have contributed in a variety of ways. The ground has always been an ideal setting for village cricket and the wicket has improved hugely in recent times. Over the years Rob Porch, Terry Baker, Jonny Hails and, in recent years, Simon Edgar have spent many hours preparing it for matchdays.
Simon has also been the club’s long-time secretary and Gary Small, Howard Newton, Derek Griffiths and David Eade have all played their part in keeping things running efficiently.
It is hard to predict what the next few years may bring for local cricket clubs but we are hopeful that, with our excellent facilities and traditional ‘village cricket’ setting at the Recreation Ground, and a core of loyal, hard-working members, Earl Stonham Cricket Club will continue to prosper.
Trevor Spall, 2018