Dunmow Cricket Club at 125 years and launch of Project Pavilion
Dunmow Cricket Club
- Credit: Dunmow Cricket Club
Dunmow Cricket Club is as old as first-class cricket.
Both began in 1895, the club fittingly was officially formed in the same year that Essex County Cricket Club competed in the County Championship for the first time. Dunmow’s rich history and enduring ties with the county are well documented.
The club has been at the heart of the town since its 19th century origins, with games played on common land at Parsonage Downs before moving to Newton Hall - now the home of the Helena Romanes School - soon after the First World War, where they remained until the land was required for assisting with the nation’s food supply during World War Two.
Post-war, the club moved to the town’s Recreation Ground where, in addition to local league matches, they began a yearly fixture against the Cardiff Wanderers, a touring side consisting of Welshmen stationed at Great Easton, Stebbing and other nearby airfields during the war, a fixture that continued well into the 21st century.
The “Rec” at the Causeway proved a difficult site and when an area off Braintree Road was offered as a potential location, the club’s members worked with local companies and contractors until Dunmow Cricket Club’s new home was officially opened on May 11, 1952 with a match between Colonel Tom Gibbons’ President XI against Gents of Essex.
After the club successfully resettled, in 1960 an invitation was offered to the members and trustees to purchase the ground.
With invaluable support from the Essex Playing Field Association this was duly accepted, completed and made Dunmow Cricket Club the proud owners of their own picturesque ground at St Edmunds Lane.
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Aided by the community, funds were raised to build a ‘temporary’ prefabricated pavilion building, which opened in the summer of 1966.
1972 saw Dunmow join the Mid Essex Cricket League before making a successful entry to join the Two Counties League (Essex & Suffolk) in 1978 where the club still competes to this day, fielding two competitive Saturday sides.
These ties to town and county were proven firstly in 1974 when an Essex CCC side including a young Graham Gooch visited for a Robin Hobbs Benefit Match and once again in 1995’s centenary year, as Essex legend and ex-England captain Keith Fletcher brought a strong side for a memorable celebratory fixture.
Thanks largely to amazing member commitment to build community engagement and with assistance from Essex CCC’s Youth Development and the Lords Taverners, a Colts section of the club has thrived, providing cricket for children aged four through to 15.
The hugely popular Colts coaching programme is supported by a progression to junior teams playing in Essex leagues from aged nine and subsequently to a development side consisting of a mixture of junior and adult players playing fun, friendly Sunday cricket against like-minded teams from across the county.
Previous Dunmow 'graduates' include John Stephenson, the current Head of Cricket at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
This philosophy of providing cricket for all ages, genders and abilities who would like to enjoy the game in the spirit it should be played has helped the club achieve the English Cricket Board Clubmark accreditation, a scheme showing that a club is sustainable, well run and provides the right environment for its members.
Additionally, it recognises a safe, rewarding and fulfilling place for participants of all ages, providing assurance for parents and carers that they are choosing the right place.
It is this strong foundation that provides the platform in 2021 for the club’s eagerly anticipated and pandemic-delayed 125th anniversary celebrations in conjunction with the launch of its Project Pavilion fundraising initiative with the goal of building a new state of the art pavilion and updating the St Edmunds Lane ground facilities in time for the 2025 season.
Both Club President Andrew Hood and the recently elected youngest chairman in the club’s history, James Reid, epitomise the organisation’s longevity.
Andrew Hood has been involved for over 40 years and played a pivotal role in establishing and managing the youth programme that James Reid joined as a youngster and has progressed through to represent Dunmow in every format since, now spearheading a new generation to take the club through the future as the town grows and prospers.
Andrew Hood said: “For 125 years Dunmow Cricket Club has served old and young alike, interested in enjoying the game of cricket.
"We have a fantastic programme of events planned for the club and community to acknowledge this milestone.
"Over the years the ground and ancillary facilities have been carefully tended by a dedicated membership, helping it outlast its design life by at least 30 years.
"It is therefore fitting that this summer along with marking and celebrating this big anniversary and to make a clear statement for an optimistic future for the continued enjoyment of cricket in Dunmow, we are delighted to be launching Project Pavilion and hope to start raising much needed funds.”
Chairman James Reid added: “After the challenges of 2020, we are hoping our belated celebration events this summer will help push the club in the right direction financially.
"We are particularly focused on promoting youth cricket, encouraging youngsters to take up the game at an early age and have ambitions to establish an under six junior team along with a women’s team.
"Dunmow is an ever-expanding community club. We run our own licensed bar.
"I hope that many will join us in marking a huge landmark and supporting the next chapter in our story.”
The ground is home to the Dunmow Round Table’s hugely popular annual soap box race, where the team pits are positioned on the outfield.
Sadly the 2021 event was cancelled again due to the pandemic, but the club have scheduled a cricket match with the Round Table as a springboard for its special event schedule and are looking forward to its resumption in 2022.
In addition to a full season of cricket across all age groups, late August will see a full week’s programme of celebratory events.
This will include a T20 Tournament with guests High Roding, Rayne & Radwinter, junior cricket camps and fun days, a 50-over fixture with the University of Bath, a special One Hundred match between Dunmow and a Select XI comprising players representing 11 local neighbouring Essex clubs, a six-a-side local competition, a President and Club Legends XI vs a Chairman’s XI fixture and a juniors and parents tournament in addition to a Darts Night, BBQs, quizzes and a music concert.
The club has recently confirmed a new partnership with estate agent Intercounty as its primary club sponsor.
Intercounty sales director Andrew Kershaw said: "We are delighted that we are on board to support Dunmow Cricket Club.
"We are dedicated to supporting the community and look forward to a fantastic collaboration, not just in this milestone year but in the years to come.”
Additional sponsorship collaborations with several local businesses have also been struck and optimism is high that a full calendar of activities in this anniversary year will attract prospective new members, increase ties with local organisations and strengthen established community links within both the town and county.
Graham Pryke, Cricket Development Manager at Essex Cricket said: “On behalf of Essex Cricket in the Community we want to send our congratulations to Dunmow Cricket Club as they begin their belated 125th anniversary.
"The club have worked with the County over many years and are a big part of the cricket family in Essex and we look forward to being a part of these celebrations.”
For more information, please visit www.dunmowcricketclub.co.uk