Leagues played in: Yorkshire ECB Premier League, Lincolnshire League, North Lindsey League
Contact details: Matt Dobson, Matthew.Dobson1@serco.com
Whilst it is certain that the current Cherry Willingham Cricket Club was formed late in 1961 and played its first home game off Fiskerton Road in 1962 it appears that cricket may actually have been played in the village earlier than that on at least two other sites. Little is really known about either location, however, the source of the information is certainly reliable and trustworthy.
The first of these is situated off Waterford Lane, only a stone’s throw away from the ground on Fiskerton Road. The exact location is not certain but when turning left onto Waterford Lane there are a couple of very large houses on the right-hand side of the road. Then there is a little white bungalow and it is understood stumps were pitched in the area behind this bungalow. Looking at the satellite map there is still a large grassy area in that vicinity, however, nothing is actually visible from the road.
The other site where cricket was played is, apparently, down Green Lane, through the farmyard and into the ‘top field’ but again it is impossible to pinpoint the precise location. It is believed a Mr Perris was heavily involved in these matches, certainly those which took place on the Waterford Lane site but very little else is known. There are recollections that a bell tent was used as both pavilion and changing rooms at that location!
Below you will see a map of Cherry Willingham with both cricket grounds used by the existing club clearly marked. The ground off Fiskerton Road was donoted to the club by Stan Bowser (Roy’s father) and there was a significant amount of hard work and graft to prepare an area fit for cricket, particularly bearing in mind the club was formed in the winter of 1961 and it is unlikely any work could really have taken place until spring 1962 due to the weather.
The first home game as Cherry Willingham Cricket Club was on Saturday 26th May against Potterhanworth with Cherry then entertaining Waddingham the following day. The square was surrounded by an electric wire fence to keep the grazing cows off the playing surface although apparently negotiating cowpats in the outfield during games was still very much a problem. The field is still visible, however, evidence of any cricket has long since disappeared.
Conditions were particularly bowler friendly in those formative days, as the early records and scorebooks will testify, in fact in those first home fixtures Cherry managed just forty-four runs combined across the two innings. Many who represented the club in those early fixtures have stated that value for strokes along the grass was minimal and only lusty aerial blows were likely to reap a substantial reward for the shot played, although this in itself came with the obvious risk of perishing to a waiting catcher. Fittingly, on Sunday 22nd September 1968, the final match played on the Fiskerton Road ground, resulted in Cherry recording a hard earned win against Wests CC.
The following summer the club moved to the current playing field ground on Laburnum Drive at the same point the football club relocated from their previous site on Green Lane and this has been home for both ever since. A number of pavilions and changing facilities have come and gone and some of the surroundings have undergone various transformations, most notably perhaps was the demolition of the old scout hut and creation of the new compound. However, generally speaking, the playing area has essentially remained the same aside from a small extension of the square to include a pitch for adult midweek cricket and a strip for Under 10 junior matches.
The Cricket Club is responsible for the upkeep of the square and all of the work undertaken continues to be done on a voluntary basis. The club has had many nominated ‘groundsmen’ over the years and it is certain Cherry’s batsman and bowlers through the ages will have differing opinions as to the quality and suitability of pitches, however, one thing guaranteed is that without their hard work all of the club’s existing records and trophy successes would not have been possible.
At various times Parish Council plans have come and gone to create a purpose built sports facility at the top end of the village with talk of a new cricket ground including a laid square comprising of between fifteen and twenty separate pitches. There may be a time when this plan is resurrected or a new project proposed and it is difficult to predict what the next fifty years might hold but for the time being, the Laburnum drive ground feels like home and will continue to be so.