This article has been prepared by Howard Swain who played from 1957-97 and holds the Club record for the aggregate number of wickets of over 1500. In such an article, covering over seventy years, some names may inadvertently be omitted -so apologies to anyone who may feel aggrieved.
According to the late Jack Oslear, when he joined the Club in 1922, the ground was situated at the end of Sherburn Street where the School playing fields are now located. In 1929 the Club was warned of the danger of losing the ground because of Council plans for building an estate. Fortunately at that time, the tenancy of a piece of land, which was later expanded to become the present ground, became available. It was rented from John Hardy, and later Mr Tom Fletcher(for £25 per year) owners of Hardy’s Farm, now the site of Signhills Junior School on the western side of the ground. A meeting of members was held in Gray’s Rooms on Alexandra Road to discuss ways of financing the move. Ten members donated £25 each to the fund. Among the Vice Presidents of the day were ‘Uncle’ Jimmy Fish, G.T.Baker and Arnold Beardsall. There was only one access to the ground, a cinder track,now Hardy’s Road. The nearest houses were in Signhills Avenue and two on King’s Road which are now the Cromwell Banqueting Suite and ‘Summerfields’ Flats. One of the Club’s earliest County representatives was Wilf Gillow in 1926.He played for Grimsby Town F.C.at that time and later became manager. Norman Maslin joined the Club in 1931 when the captain was Wilf Wilson who in the 1960s presented the H.W.Wilson Cup for the Championship of the Lincolnshire County Cricket League.
The first home match to be played on the new ground was against Scunthorpe Town on June 13th 1931 which the visitors won. Examples of the Club’s teams during that season were:- 1st XI W.Wilson, W.Seabrook, A.Adwick, N.Bettany, J.Cormack, S.Gibbons R.Reynolds, J.Semple, S.Scott, W Vere, Umpire Mr Ron Haigh. 2nd XI A.W.Cox, G.Bell, H.Baker, G.Hirst, F.Humberstone, J.Keegan, J.A.Moore, J.Oslear, J.Richardson, W.Semple, N.Maslin, Umpire Mr Dan Walker.
The Club played in the Grimsby and District Cricket League, Division I when there were only five other teams, namely Grimsby Town, Scunthorpe Town, Amateurs, Appleby Frodingham and L.N.E.R. Friendly fixtures were also played and during the war opposition came from the Army, Navy and Air Force sides.
It was not until after the war that Sunday cricket was introduced and the Club reverted to a friendly fixture list until the 1960’s. In 1948, the Club provided two wicket keepers for the County. Brooke Armitage was the regular,but when he became unavailable, 2nd XI ‘keeper Les Bennett was chosen to deputise.
One group of people who cannot be praised too highly from those early years until the 1970’s was the Ladies Committee. Not only were they renowned for their lunches and teas but they helped to raise valuable income for the Club. In 1951, the team to play Appleby Frodingham consisted of B.Ehrenfried(capt).H.E.Green, W.Cowderoy, G.Yarlott, R.Fenner, H.Bennett, N.Maslin, J.Oslear, A.Storey, Dr C.A.McCleary and L.Bennett. The scorer was W.Newsum and the Secretary C.Harvey .One notable absentee is Harry Betmead, the Grimsby Town footballer.
It is very difficult for present Club members to visualise that small ground of the early 1950s; the dilapidated wooden pavilion, tiny changing rooms with splinter giving seats and the score box perched precariously above the gents .The developement of the town of Cleethorpes prompted expansion. Houses were fast engulfing the ground and the move to preserve the future of cricket had to be made. Thanks to the wise counsel and influencial help of Jack Oslear, Norman Maslin and Alderman Albert Cox, the present eight acres were purchased from Sidney Sussex College for what may now appear as a paltry sum in 1955 safeguarding the land for recreational purposes instead of the intended residential development.
The 1959 season ended in mid-August so that the outfield could be expanded and levelled and a new square sown; the latter played on far too early was at first a dismal failure. But still incredibly some more ambitious members dreamed of holding Minor County Cricket on this near desert wasteland. The calendar of events that followed is in itself a tribute to the work and vision of many individuals who pushed and harried, pulled (strings mainly) and pleaded. To mention individual names would be impossible, but Tim Holt as Secretary for 21 years epitomised those men and women of goodwill. The arrival at this time of our part time Groundsman, Wally Shepherd, was to prove a significant factor in what followed. In 1963 the new pavilion was opened.1967 saw us win the league for the first time, having entered three years earlier. In 1968, Norman Maslin’s year as County President, the American Cricket Association, then touring England, played the Lincolnshire side at Cleethorpes.
The following year the first Minor County Match was played on the ground against Staffordshire. August 9th 1970, that unforgettable Sunday, brought the International Caveliers, a galaxy of legendry cricket names, and 3000 spectators, to the ground. By now, social functions and the drinking habits of many members necessitated a larger lounge and bar and the elevating of the dressing rooms ,built in 1971.1972 saw the Minor Counties XI playing Nottinghamshire ,in the Benson and Hedges Cup, and the great Sobers batting.
In 1978 two Squash Courts were opened and 200 new faces entered the Club’s life. The project (the first Squash Courts to be built in Cleethorpes) proved a great success and gave a new zest to proceedings, especially in the winter. Then in 1980 Cleethorpes was chosen as the venue for Nottinghamshire to play their first ever 1st Class home fixture out of the county, against Worcestershire.A similar fixture the following year saw Northamptonshire beaten in two days and the County Championship secured. Also in the 1980s,Middlesex were the visitors in a Sunday League game, and Sri Lanka played twice on consecutive tours. Benefit Matches have been held for Richard Hadlee, David Gower, Alan Lamb and a joint one for Jim Love and John Birch. July 1995 saw another memorable game on the ground, the Sunday League match between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire before a capacity crowd and a delighted Club Treasurer. In August 2003 Nottinghamshire entertained Lancashire in another Sunday League game before a large crowd while a month later the club hosted the final of the Minor Counties championship which saw Lincolnshire beat Devon in a thrilling encounter featuring four local players to take their first minor counties crown since 1966.
Reverting back to the Club’s playing fortunes, in 1957 Ray Mawer took over the Captaincy, a position he held for 10 years This was the era when the Club emerged from being a good local team into one of the area’s leading sides, regularly supplying players to the County team. “The main reason for this upsurge,” says Ray, “was the emergence of the youthful talents of Bob Leafe, Roy Oslear, Howard Swain and David Maslin and their transition into first class Club cricketers; Paul Gregory and John Sunley into fully fledged County players and Martin Maslin into one of the finest amateur cricketers most of us have seen. Add to these names the new arrivals of Ted Nutter and Don Clifton and the basis for a successful team was truly formed.
The spirit was great, the confidence grew and the fielding and catching were a Cleethorpes hallmark. The foundation was set and up to 1983, Cleethorpes won the Lincolnshire County Cricket League Championship eleven times. Captains to follow, and keep the flag flying were Martin Maslin (1968-71), John Sunley (1972-76), Bob Leafe (1977-80) and Keith Phillips (1981-85 Names to mention during these halcyion years include Mel Over, John Robinson, Paul Willis, Terry Barnes, Steve Bartlett, Ted Bond ,Mike Birmingham, Alan Hobbs, Jeff Todd Andy Dolan, Rod Sanders John Hood, Colin Willerton and Ian Drummond .The excellence on the field was matched by Alec Shorter’s scorebook and he went on to officiate for the County. In 1975, Don Oslear was appointed to the First Class Umpires List and in 1980 to the Test Panel. He went on to officiate in five tests.
In 1981 the club made its first venture into the John Haig Trophy and what a success. The regional final was reached, away at Scarborough and on the way the notable scalps of York and Bradford were taken. Yorkshire League Clubs began to realise that there was more than just sand at Cleethorpes! In 1984, under the captaincy of Keith Phillips, the Club entered the Yorkshire League, the 2nd XI the Ridings League and with the retention of a team in the Lincolnshire League three League teams were run for the first time. A new chapter in the Club’s history had opened fresh faces, new friends and a higher standard of cricket. Needless to say, Championships and Cup wins became elusive. Perhaps this new opportunity had come too late for the team of the seventies?
In 1988, to give the Club a much needed boost ,a professional was engaged for the first time ,namely David Quoyle from Australia. He has been followed by Rohan Catherall (Australia), Sanjiva Silva (Sri Lanka), Amal Dalugoda (Sri Lanka), Buck Venter (South Africa), John Rennie (Zimbabwe) ,in 1997 and 1998 Glen Hewitt (South Africa) who became captain. He was followed in 1999 and 2000 by Shadab Kabir (Pakistan), Mathew Sinclair (New Zealand) 2001 and Shane Deitz (Australia) 2002 and 2003.Other captains between Glen and Keith (who had a second spell) have been Martin Maslin, Bob Leafe, Colin Willerton, Rob Todd and Will Abe. In 2003 the Yorkshire League championship was secured with a memorable last day win at Driffield. Captained by Mike Smith, the side had performed superbly and consistently as a unit all season and pipped Harrogate to the title. Shane Deitz scored over a thousand runs for the second season in succession while new recruits Jon Trower and Bill Kirby along with Smith, all topped 500 runs. Dietz, Andy Carrington and Andy Ellis shared 150 wickets between them while youngsters James and Alex Osmond made important contributions. Keeper Graham Wilson once again distinguished himself behind the stumps.
Like most Cricket Clubs, tours have played their part over the years. After Devon in 1952 and 1953, the next tours took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Since then there have been three to Essex, one to Norwich, three to Kent and in 1997 the first of five Tours to Newcastle was embarked upon.
Priority has always been to produce a playing area of the highest standard possible. This has attracted players and Social members and together with members of the Squash section the Club as a whole is very buoyant at the moment. The constant upkeep of the pavilion has made it a Club of which to be proud and the number of people who attend functions is proof of that. Developments which have taken place in recent years include an all-weather pitch, four net bays, up-dating of the sights creens and covers, a new machinery shed and in the pavilion a kitchen extension, refurbishment of both lounges and replacement of most exterior doors and windows. In 2002 a lottery application was turned down which would have meant a third Squash Court, a refurbishment of the cricket Changing Rooms and an improvement to the Club Room. However, not to be outdone, The Management Committee pressed ahead with revised plans and in April 2003 a third Squash Court was opened, the Club Room enlarged and a new Committee/Hospitality Room and Kitchen added. The Club has come a long way since the 1920s and each succeeding generation has built on foundations laid by its predecessor. Let us hope the present tenants continue this enviable tradition.
In 2004,Shane Deitz completed a third and final year as the Club’s Overseas player. Mike Smith had now retired through injury and Shane became captain. In 2005,the West Indies International Sherwin Campbell succeeded Shane. At this same time plans were afoot to rebuild the Cricket Changing Rooms with a grant from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) through their Club Community Development Fund (CCDF).This had to be supplemented with a Bank Loan, so two vital decisions were made for the start of the 2006 season when the new facilities were opened. No semi-professionals were to be engaged and the cost for an Overseas Player had to be drastically reduced. For the next two years we were fortunate to engage the services of Simon Roberts from South Australia who proved most popular with his accomplished batting and bowling his leg breaks. During these two years and 2007,the Club began a rebuilding programme in which “youngsters” were given their chance throughout all the teams and we were greatly indebted to Bill Kirby for Captaining the Club through these difficult years. In 2009,a young James Osmond began a second year as Club Captain. In these two years,the overseas player was Ishan Mutaliph from Sri Lanka. By now,as well as the 1st XI in the Yorkshire League,there were three teams in the Lincolnshire County Cricket League (Some games being played using the Sports Ground at Nun’s Corner. At the time of writing known as Stamford Sports Club) On Sundays we have teams in the East Lindsey League and the North Lindsey League.Thanks to the extensive coaching that has been undertaken by the Club,more and more youngsters are being given the opportunity to develop.
Further Overseas Players have been Peter Fulton (New Zealand 2012), Omesh Wijesiriwadana (Sri Lanka 2011)
Graham Hulme (South Africa 2012 and 2013).
Cleethorpes players to have represented Lincolnshire CCC
(In alphabetical order) Kristian ADAMS (1997) Jim AIREY (1989-90) Stuart AIREY (2001- ) Brooke ARMITAGE (1947-56) Terry BARNES (1967-86) Steve BARTLETT (1978-85) Ron BEESON (1957-66) Dennis BELL (1934-35) Leslie BENNETT (1948-49 )Harry BETMEAD (1935-49) Mike BIRMINGHAM (1976-81) Russ DALE (1986) JonathanDAVIES (2000-02) Shane DEITZ (2003) Sydney DILNOT (1925) Nigel DOBBS (1986-95) Andrew DOLAN (1983-84) Ben EHRENFRIED (1932-57) Sydney FALDING (1914) Wilfred GILLOW (1926) Paul GREGORY (1967-78) Mark IRVING (1992) Simon KELK (1987) Bill KIRBY(2009- ) Alwyn LEA(1956-62) Bob LEAFE(1984) David MASLIN (1967) Martin MASLIN (1959-80) Norman MASLIN (1936-38) Ray MAWER (1954-58) Ted NUTTER (1959-64) Alex OSMOND (2004- )Paul ROBERTS (1971-72) Rod SANDERS (1977-78) Alec STATHER (1951-52 Albert STOREY
In the 1970s the Club realised that it could not just survive as a Cricket Club and in 1978 a major project was completed when two Squash Courts were built, the first in Cleethorpes. Thanks to various dedicated officers over the years the Section has continued to flourish and its contribution to the life of the Club cannot be overestimated. A third court was built in 2005 and in 2014 new Changing Rooms were completed. It has always been the aim to reach the ceiling of 200 members and as at January 2015 there are 192 which includes 37 Lady Members a record amount for the Club.. Saturday morning Junior Coaching goes from strength to strength with a regular 30 attending. 13 teams compete in the Grimsby 3-Man League more than any other Club in the area.
2014 saw the 16th year of the Squash Professional Invitation Tournament in which, over the years, World Ranked players have taken part.
In recent years Cleethorpes Athletic Club have used the Club for its regular Tuesday and Thursday evenings Road Races and Training. Several members applications to run with the Olympic Torch were successful. One of the highlights of the year is the New Year’s Day Half Marathon. It is so popular the limit of 500 runners is soon reached, participants coming from far and wide.