The Perfect Place for Cricket – Episode 1

This story is a partly imagined version of the events which took place over sixty years ago, leading to the purchase of the land which became the ground of Long Marston Cricket Club. It is largely based on a conversation with Don Winfield last year, as contained in the detailed transcript and audio already posted on our website.

Preface: This version of events is in different format, intended to bring the events even more to life. It is told through the eyes of Len Dean, Chairman of the Club at the time and long term benefactor and supporter of the local villages. We appreciate the help of the Dean family in approving and adding to the text.

Len Dean’s Story – 1958

It’s not much fun playing cricket on our present pitch at the recreation ground. We have a good team and the lads are really keen; they deserve better than having to play on concrete slabs. It’s not the sort of conditions that such a good team should play on and it’s dangerous as well. It’s the club’s hundredth anniversary in nine years and it’s high time that we did something about it. And as Chairman of the Cricket Committee, it’s my responsibility.

Yesterday evening, in the Queens Head, I overheard someone say that the Reverend Anthony – who behaves and is treated like royalty in this village – is thinking of putting some land owned by the Church, known as Marlins, up for sale. It would make an ideal site for a cricket ground; there are about 6 acres, it is perfectly flat and almost exactly square. There is nowhere else in this area that would come close to meeting our needs.

This land is on the left up Cheddington Lane, just past Gregory’s butchers shop as you leave the village. The only problem is that the land is now being used as allotments and there lots of people in the village who rent these allotments and who will raise Merry Hell if they think these will be taken away. But there are other places where they could have allotments while this is the only option for a decent cricket ground, the only way for our club to survive in the long term.

Today is Sunday so I decide that I will speak to the other members of the committee tomorrow, at our regular Monday evening meeting. They will be concerned at the likely reaction of the villagers but everyone shares my concern at the state of the present ground. We will also need to discuss how best to make contact with the Reverend, not an easy person to get to talk to.

At the meeting I repeat what I heard in the Queens Head but several members are sceptical; they just can’t believe that the Reverend Anthony will sell in the face of opposition from the allotment holders. There is a suggestion that I talk to the Reverend direct but I’m reluctant to do so until we know more; after all, it is only a rumour.

‘I’m not keen on approaching him direct’, I say. ‘Let me talk to Chris, he knows the Reverend well and is in touch with everything that is going on at the vicarage; he will know if there is any truth in this story.’

I am referring to Chris Proctor, the club’s Treasurer who was not able to attend this meeting. The next day I give him a ring early before we both start work and it turns out that the rumour is true; the Reverend Anthony is going to sell the allotment land. And it would be ideal for us.

The problem is that Chris also knows that the sale price is £400 so we need to raise the money, persuade the Committee to go ahead and face the outcry that is bound to come from all those allotment holders. I decide to put it on the agenda for the next Monday night meeting.

I think to myself that there is likely to be trouble ahead.

One Comment “The Perfect Place for Cricket – Episode 1”

  • Stephen Proctor

    says:

    This is basically true. E. J Anthony’s house keeper was my Gran Mrs Proctor nee Bethel who were the blacksmiths opposite the Queens Head. Dad (Christopher and my uncle Stanley) lived at the vicarage as I did for a number of years when mum was poorly, Nigel my brother lived at number 22 Station Road with Granny Bignell. Dad had obviously had no influence over Eric John but Dad always said that he ( E J ) thought it was a good idea and it would be a good move for the village. We have never looked back. S.

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