We are a thriving cricket club in the heart of Wiltshire, playing around 80 games of adult cricket a year, and running a growing junior boys and girls section. We came from nowhere, and many of our members have played here for 20 years. We’ve re-laid squares, built nets, erected sightscreens, added water to the square, and build an infrastructure to be proud of. We have around 70 active players in any one year. Some are permanent; some are temporary. We began junior coaching in 2014 and it was a hit.
Whoever they are, and whatever format of cricket we’re playing, we aim to have fun, and play to win if we possibly can.
A more detailed history of the club follow below, penned in 2015 by our (then) President, Dave Scattergood.
Cricket has been played on the sports field at Avebury since just after the First World War, and has its origins in the workforce of Alexander Keiller. Keiller’s mark on the village of Avebury is significant. A wealthy man whose money came from his family’s marmalade business, he purchased Avebury and part of the West Kennet Avenue in the 1930s. Inspired by the work of earlier archaeologists, he set about digging out the stones which had been buried, and restoring certain important buildings and other sites in and around Avebury. He became very involved in the local community, and this involvement extended to the sports field.
Keiller lived at Avebury Manor, and his head gardener, a Mr Ben Windsor, was given the job of maintaining the cricket square (which in those days ran from North to South rather than East to West) and sportsfield generally. There was also a job on Mr Keiller’s staff for a good sportsman, and many of the players in those days were also the men employed by Keiller to carry out the excavations.
In addition to working on the ground, the present pavilion was acquired at around this time (1936/37) from the Bristol area by a Mr Hayes, a builder friend of Keiller, and was erected and painted by Keiller’s men. The pavilion’s position on Avebury sportsfield remains unchanged. Water was supplied to the newly erected pavilion via underground tanks using hand pumps. Electricity was supplied locally by the Rawlins family, then subsequently by Frank Cullis via poles up Church Lane. In later years, Sports Club members laid on water from Mr Farthing’s farm supply and sourced the electricity supply from Avebury Club.
A particular highlight in the fixtures list from this era was a game between IAR Peebles XI (from Middlesex) and Avebury. Local men who played then and after the war included Len Cable, Dick Brindle, Herbie Goddard and Harold Blake who was also the secretary.
During the 1939-45 war years the pavilion was used an overflow school classroom (following the arrival of numbers of evacuees) and also formed the headquarters of the village youth club.
After the war, the cricket and football clubs combined to form Avebury Sports Club with Vernon Blake as secretary. Cricket in the post-war years took the form of full matches on Sundays and limited overs games on Wednesday evenings. Local players included Herbie Goddard, Jack Goddard, Len Cable, Dick Brindle, Hugh Rendle, Harry Bunce, John Haig, Len Blake, Richard Moss, Mr Layley, Bill Clements, Joe Vickers, Stan Blake, Dennis Hallet, Tony Jones, Jeff Merritt.
The local strength was always supplemented by members of the local RAF base in Yatesbury. There was an annual fixture featuring Avebury Sports Club versus The Rest. 7-a-side cricket tournaments were also held on the sportsfield until Vernon Blake died on 14th May 1981. Football continued on the sportsfield for a few more years which included some success in the Wiltshire Premier Division.
The present Avebury Cricket Club was formed in the late 1980s with the catalyst being a chat around the kitchen table (no doubt over a glass of wine) at the Old Vicarage between the current President, Dave Scattergood, and Jane Fry (one of our Honorary Life Members). Only a handful of Sunday matches were played in the first season, and the outfield and square were generally in poor condition. This resulted in very low scores generally being achieved, which meant that visitors were only attracted by the quality of the cricket teas! However, the club continued to add to its fixture list and improve the quality of the square and outfield. Stalwart members during this period of the club’s history included Guy Perkins, Mike Polack (who remains one of few to achieve a ‘hat trick’), John Collie, the Fry family, Andrew Blake, Peter Force-Jones, Michael Pearce and Dave Scattergood.
During the 1990s the club increased its fixture list and membership, running games every Sunday between mid-April and mid-September, often irrespective of weather conditions. As the number of younger cricketers joined the club, many of whom played competitive league cricket for other clubs on Saturdays, a debate was held at the AGM in 2000 as to whether the team should enter the Wiltshire Cricket League. The decision was passed by a majority vote, and a discussion was held with the Wiltshire League committee as to which division the team should be entered in.
Following this discussion, the team enjoyed a fine season in 2000, the highlight of which was reaching the regional finals of the National Village Knockout Championship, where we lost out to Goatacre. In 2002 the team began life in Division 5 of the Wiltshire League, winning the division outright and doing the same again in Division 4 in 2003, rising quickly to Division 1, and hovering in a range between Divisions 1 and 2 ever since.
In addition to the Saturday fixtures Avebury continues to run a full schedule of Sunday friendlies, allowing Saturday players to rest and to allow other players to continue to be involved. At its heart Avebury has, and always will be, a ‘Sunday’ side in the best sense of the word. The core of this team continues to be focused in or around Avebury
Winning is important, but the camaraderie and sense of community that the club generates is worth any number of trophies.