Monks Risborough Cricket Club
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Monks Risborough Cricket Club has a rich history. We celebrated our Centenary in 1993, but soon discovered we had in fact been going on far more than a 100 years!
The club's badge takes its design from the historic Whiteleaf Cross (see Wikipedia entry) that is cut into the chalk on the side of the hill next to our ground (above Whiteleaf village)
Our badge ...
Old newspapers carry the scores of a cricket team representing Monks Risborough as far back as the 1860s, and a minute book still in the club’s possession provides evidence of a well-constituted club by the mid-1890s. At that time matches were played on one of the available fields between Askett and Kimble. The 1895 subscriptions were set at 1s 6d with reduced fees of 3d for boys and, 6d for all others under the age of 16. Though the club’s reserves were under £4, the proceeds of a concert had enabled the team to be decked out in club blazers for the earliest known photograph, which was taken that year.
This was a time when balls cost 3s 6d (about 18p). They were expected to last a whole season – and sometimes went off for repair. So an annual levy of £3 for the use of her field by a Mrs Reading was so steep that it took the club to the verge of bankruptcy, and players were grateful to move after the turn of the century to a more settled home behind the Three Crowns pub in Askett, where the club remained until after the First World War. By the time cricket resumed in earnest in 1920, Monks Risborough CC had found a new home – on the parish recreational ground in Whiteleaf with its unique contours and undulations, where it plays to this day.
During the inter-war years the club’s affairs were dominated by a cricket enthusiast, William.H.Lavington, who was at the time Treasurer of Bucks County Cricket Club. The move to Whiteleaf was instigated by Mr Lavington, a property developer and self-styled squire of Askett. A man well connected in the cricket world, he arranged for the ground staff from The Oval (Surrey County Cricket Club) to lay the square. In the inter-war years his team – he was always captain – played matches of a high standard and some social pretension on the new ground. The famous England batsman Patsy Hendren brought teams down to play in the 1920s, while Lavington’s practice of strengthening his own side with a young professional or two brought the Bedser twins, Alec and Eric, to the ground for their first ever paid engagement. Sir Alec Bedser (ex-Surrey and England) is, as described in his profile on Wikipedia, widely regarded as one of the greatest English cricketers of the 20th century. Now in his early 90s, he is certainly England’s oldest surviving Test cricketer, can still recall hauling his bag across London on the tube and the train, out to Buckinghamshire, where Lavington’s chauffeur would be waiting at the station to take players up to the ground. He did it all for a match fee of just one pound. ‘Riches indeed’, he now describes the money Lavington paid him - the first match fees he ever earned.
The outbreak of war in 1939 brought an end to the social exclusivity of the Lavington era, and when cricket resumed in 1946 the team became more truly representative of those who lived in the locality. Names of families still to be found in the area – Rogers, Redrup, Carter, Baker, Williams, Stallwood – began to dominate the score books. The cricket was of a decent standard, but the club always resisted the lure of league competition.
The most notable achievement of the early post-war years was the replacement of the wooden shack Lavington’s men had erected with a solidly built and tiled pavilion, with water laid on for making the tea and indoor sanitation for the first time. Raising the money was a major challenge - £700 was needed – but local generosity and self-help in the construction enabled the new pavilion to be opened in 1954. The man who masterminded the raising of funds was a well-known local resident and businessman, Mr Ronald Bell, at 97 the oldest survivor of those who remember the struggle they had in more straitened financial times.
By the 1990s fewer players had local roots. Advertisements brought new members principally from Aylesbury, among them the current captain, Ash Altaf, and the secretary, Mohammed Amjad. Their arrival proved the lifeline for a club that has now has a significant Pakistani membership. The cricket become more vibrant and entry to the Kookaburra Mid-Bucks League in 2001 gave it increased purpose. In 2004 the club reached the Premier Division, where it has remained, and in 2008 the league’s knock-out competition was won.
In the early hours of 30th January 2010, an event occurred that took the club into its darkest hour. A suspected electrical fault caused a fire to start which destroyed our pavilion. Thanks to the fantastic efforts of many people after that, it did not bring down the curtain on a club with such a rich history and one of the most picturesque grounds in the county.
A beautiful new pavilion has been built to replace the old one and the club now proudly looks forward to many successful years ahead!
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