Club Honours: Gainsborough & District Amateur League Champions 1948, 1949 and 1963
Leagues played in: Bassetlaw League Division 2, Gainsborough League
Contact details: Nick Lowery, Nick.Lowery@Heptonstalls.co.uk
Lea had a village cricket team prior to the First World War. The first documented evidence we have details the regular matches that were played between the villages of Lea and Gate Burton. These matches took place either at Lea or Gate Burton Hall. The two main landowners the Andersons at Lea and the Huttons at Gate Burton Hall enthusiastically took part in these fixtures.
We do know that at some point the village cricket team lapsed and was not reintroduced into the village until 1946. The Cricket section of Lea and Knaith was part of a sports association that also included Football and Tennis sections. A ground was obtained south of the village on what has become known as Lea Marshes. Unfortunately this pitch regularly flooded due to the River Trent and it was not unknown to find the pavilion had floated some 400 yards from its original location.
The club entered the “Gainsborough & District Amateur Cricket League” for the 1946 season. The club remained in this league up to and including the 1963 season. This was a golden age for the club as in 1948 the club won “The Garnett Cup” , additionally the club won the 1st Division Championship in 1948 , 1949 and 1963. We have a picture of the victorious 1949 team on this page. One of the most famous competition’s that was entered was “The Britannia Knockout” which attracted teams from a wide area. Lea & Knaith beat Morton in the final of this competition in 1948 which was played on “The Northolme” In 1949 the club were finalists again , but on this occasion were unfortunately beaten by Kirton in Lindsey. The recent success was shortlived and after 1951 the club went into decline; by 1956 the majority of players who had served the club so successfully had ceased playing.
The 1957 season saw an attempt at reinvigorating the club and John Lockhead of Green Lane Lea (who was a former teacher at The Grammar School) re-organised the club with Brian Schofield , Brian Holmes and Rodney Millns as committee members. Due to this initiative the club attracted a lot of new members such as Eric Bradley , Peter Cobb , Trevor Collinson , Trevor Cottam, Norman Drakes , Rodney Gleadell , Stuart Hill , David Holmes , Keith Horner. These players joined Terry Dowman , Colin Goshawk , Rodney Millns , Bernard Mumby and John Walton who had played for the club since their schooldays. The 1st team combined to win the 1st Division Championship once again in 1963.
The club decided that it was time to move on and for the 1964 season they joined the Gainsborough Trent Valley Cricket League. This league was formed in the early 1960’s for clubs who were dissatisfied with the poor state of some grounds they had to play on. The ground on Lea Marshes was below par and the club was accepted into the league in controversial circumstances. The members made significant efforts to improve the quality of both the wicket and the outfield in readiness for the season.
In 1966 the owners of the field explained that the club were no longer welcome to play on the pitch that had been their home for 20 years.This led to a further 17 years of upheaval as Lea and Knaith C.C. moved from ground to ground outside of the borders of the village. It is testimony to the strength of the club that the team continued during this period as many lesser clubs would have folded. In 1967 the club gained permission to play at Humble Carr Lane on a pitch adjacent to where the famous Gainsborough Britannia cricket side played. The location was not ideal due to its proximity to the River Trent and the pitch often flooded and was prone to vandalism. In 1970 the club moved again to Thonock Lane Gainsborough and used the facilities already in place at the new venue. This was home to the club for the next five seasons before moving once again to Rose Forgrove C.C. who were members of The Bassetlaw League. This ground also had issues as it was more often than not very wet and was known locally as “The Pudding”. However these conditions suited Lea very well over the next 9 years as the club had a very successful run. In 1975 the club reached the final of the Trophy losing to Holy Trinity , nevertheless in 1976 the club won “The Double” by being Trent Valley Champions and winning the Trent Valley Challenge Trophy in a tense game against old rivals Morton C.C.
Lea managed to return to the village to play cricket upon the creation of Lea Park when a cricket pitch was established. The club utilised Misterton C.C.’s old pavilion and this was used for many seasons.. The club decided to change its name to Lea Park C.C. in order to reflect its permanent base in the village. Thus on Wednesday the 4th of May 1983 the first game was played against Corringham C.C. in a limited overs game. The following Saturday the 7th of May 1983 the first league game was played against Beckingham C.C, who won by one wicket. Lea Park applied to be members of the Bassetlaw League in September of 1985 and were accepted to play the following season. The first game in 1986 was against Weston C.C. who won by 66 runs.
Lea has run a second team on a number of occasions , initially in the Gainsborough and District League in the 1940’s and 1950’s , this team was captained by Jack Warriner of The Crescent Lea. In the 1960’s a second team was formed which was captained by Neil Taylor. Latterly the second team was captained by Tim Lobley , Derek Rose , Peter Barker and Stuart Menzies , Stuart later went on to captain the 1st team.
Tea has taken many forms over the years , in the 1940’s and 1950’s sandwiches were provided in a bag for the players and a large tea urn was used for drinks. Whilst at Humble Carr Lane our teas were taken in “The Drovers Call” and whilst at Thonock teas were taken at “The Ship Inn” Morton and rather splendidly at Gainsborough Old Hall. In 1964 when the club joined the Trent Valley League it became a stipulation that the club held a sit down tea. The teas were at this time taken in the Methodist Chapel. Currently a sit down tea is provided in The Butlers Pantry in Lea Park.
The Bassetlaw years have seen the club go through mixed fortunes whilst at the Park. The 1st team was promoted three times between 1986 and 1992 and during this time the club had a number of very good cricketers which are reflected in the performance in the League Averages. This standard of cricket was maintained until 2000 when it became clear that the club could not sustain two sides anymore and both 1st and 2nd elevens finished 12th in their respective divisions. The Bassetlaw League was reorganised from regional cricket to one league with 10 divisions. The committee decided that with the playing strength being diminished it would make sense to shelve the 2nd team but retain the 2nd eleven fixtures for the one remaining side.
Since 2001 when the club won the Division 8 Championship the club has gone from strength to strength. In 2002 the club won Division 7 and was promoted for the second year running under the Captaincy of Stuart Menzies. Ted Roberts took over as Captain in 2005 and due to a reorganisation in the league got promoted although only finishing 3rd. This was proven to be a correct decision as in 2006 as Lea Park became Champions of Division 5. The following season the club managed to consolidate their position before a new Captain Elton Moulds led the side to promotion into the renamed Division 2. The club is very ambitious and assembled a very strong side for the 2011 season under the Captaincy of Matthew Housham. Just missing out on promotion 2013 season Lea Park remain in Div 3 of the Bassetlaw League.2014 sees the appointment of a new Captain, Andy Dewick.
Lea Park continues to offer cricketers of all abilities the opportunity to play cricket.