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Milton Cricket Club - History

The Early Days
by Norman Frisby

This is a story that begins one sunny summer's evening that nobody actually remembers.

The history books say that Milton Cricket Club was formed in 1949. But how did it happen? Like all history, it just did. 

One certain summer evening a few local lads found themselves knocking a ball about in Mr Percy Footit's field just across the old brick bridge from Riverside Farm. A couple of nights later, it happened again. This time, one or two more cricketers. Then somebody remembered that there was cricket gear at West Markham School. Could they borrow it!  A word in the right ear got the answer yes, they could. And so it went on, that 1949 summer. 

The cricketers at the nightly knockabouts came from Milton itself, from Markham Moor, Sibthorpe Hill, Bevercotes, Rockley, even Gamston. Soon there were a dozen or more, and soon a few informal fixtures were organized. 

Why not form a club? suggested somebody. Why not? Well, where would the money come from, for a start. It looked like they had a field, but what about all those other things a cricket club would need? Bats and balls, stumps and bails, pads and gloves? 

A secretary was appointed. Appointed? Perhaps hardly the right word. But at least he could cadge a typewriter. And on that typewriter was hammered out a begging letter. "Please help us," it said, "to start our cricket club. Please give us your support." They did. Those vital first few pounds came in, from good folks around about who are vice-presidents and supporters of Milton Cricket Club still. 

A deal was done with a Newark sports outfitter. Arrangements were finalised with the landlord so the pitch could be mowed and fenced. 

A President was elected: Mr J. P. Footit, of Riverside Farm, Milton but his support went further than a seat on the boundary and boundless good advice. In those first exciting days he had an extra role, Banker. 

The embryo cricket club was becoming a force in local village cricket, but it was short of one essential - a pavilion. "How about an old railway carriage?" said somebody. Enquiries were made, a price sought...and rejected as too high. Then fortune took a turn. 

A member of this new club was a "regular" at Newark Cattle Market. Every Wednesday it was his job to tell the anxiously-waiting world the latest news from the fat-stock front. How much were drapes and gimmers? What price in-lamb ewes? His job was to call on the auctioneers mid-day Wednesday to get the market prices for next day's Nottingham Guardian. 

This particular Wednesday he was strolling over the Bridge, in the shadow of the Castle walls, when he spotted a green double-decker parked outside 'The Ossington'. This was the corner of the market where auctioneers sold off second-hand farm machinery and tools, oddments of bankrupt agricultural jumble sale. And pride of place at today's sale, this splendid bus. A veritable green goddess off the streets of the City of Nottingham. An all-electric though long-fused Corporation trolley-bus. A ready-made village cricket club pavilion. An upstairs for changing cricketers, a downstairs for watching supporters. "How much'll the bus make?" he whispered to the auctioneer's clerk. "It'll go for -- er -- about £35." "Right," said the Miltonian. "Hang on. Don't let it go. I'm off to the phone. A quick sprint to the callbox on the corner to ring the President, luckily not singling beet in some remote corner of Riverside Farm. "Shall I buy it?" asked the anxious cricketer. "Why not? Go ahead. Yes," said the President. "I'll lend you the money " So the deal was done. Milton Cricket Club were in the transport business.

For a bargain £32 - including towing - they had a pavilion. It was a curious convoy that made its way along the North Road northwards from Newark that Wednesday afternoon. At its head, a Milton cricketer on his motorbike. Then a scrapdealer's beat-up old truck, tied by a groaning rope to a swishing, swaying, green paint peeling Nottingham Corporation trolley-bus. Through Cromwell, skirting Carlton and Sutton, the long slow haul up through Ash Vale into Tuxford, and the swoosh down-hill to Hempsalls. Left at Markham Moor and into Milton. Across the fields and through a hedge and so to its final resting-place. To spend its last days enjoying the halcyon, sun-drenched hours in a corner of a green, green field all but encircled by a tinkling river. 

A view of willows, of grazing sheep, a couple of farms. The poplar-lined avenue, the Mausoleum. The setting for Milton Cricket Club Those were the beginning days. Who could have foreseen the Milton Cricket club that Nottinghamshire knows today? Top village team in the county? No village team higher in the Bassetlaw League! Milton joined the Bassetlaw in 1957. In 1958 they were champions in their section and moved up. 1959, up again. 1961, up yet again. 

And so it went on ...Statistics that tell a story of success. A story that started in the field where they still play, on a sunny summer evening in 1949 that nobody actually remembers.

Aussie's progress from Milton to test debut by Tony Gamble

Five years ago (1992), Tony Gamble, chairman of Milton CC received a phone call at his Cottam home out of the blue from a young Australian wanting to come and play cricket in Bassetlaw. Such was Andy Bichel's exuberance in that opening conversation that it was impossible to say 'no' - And now Tony and the rest of the Milton club have looked on proudly as Andy has forced his way into the Australian Test team. 

Here, Tony recalls the arrival of the enthusiastic young player and his time in Bassetlaw.

A call had been expected from Australia following the departure of George Jones to Queensland, the previous Autumn. Many may remember George who first played for Everton C.C. followed by a move to the Retford club whom he captained to the Bassetlaw Division 1A title in the early eighties. He then spent some years in New Guinea before returning to this country, when he played for the Milton club.

However, he and his family decided to return to the other side of the world in November 1991.The Milton club asked him if he could find an up-and-coming young cricketer who would come over to play at Milton in 1992. The young man he found -  Andy Bichel. 

Two weeks to the minute after that first telephone call the same phone rang again. This time the same young man announced that he had booked and paid for his air ticket, and that he would arrive at Gatwick Airport on April 18th at midday.

That was the story of how such a very talented cricketer became a player at the small Milton club. He was regarded by many to be one of the fastest bowlers who has ever bowled in this area. He was, without doubt, one of the best hitters of a cricket ball seen on local grounds and his fielding and catching were second to none. 

It was no surprise therefore that he was a great success in his season at the Riverside ground. He scored 959 runs at an average of 73.77 and took 50 wickets at an average of 14.98 each, as well as taking many catches. In one innings against Roses he hit six sixes in one over. 

During his stay he also played for Sutton-on-Trent, East Drayton and made guest appearances for other teams. It is interesting to note that the county club showed no interest in him in spite of the fact that he was very impressive in a benefit game at Milton against a Notts XI. 

Andy returned to Laidly in Queensland which is 80 was miles from Brisbane and the world famous Gabba Cricket Ground. 

During his time in England he had been asked to play for 'Souths' Alan Border's club, on return to Australia. So great was his impact on the Brisbane scene at the start of their new season that by mid October his name was being considered to play for Queensland in the Mercantile Mutual Cup. 

It was an injury to Carl Rackeman which allowed Andy his big chance and he made his debut for his state less than two months after leaving Milton. This was soon followed by a place in the side to play in the Sheffield Shield and a regular place in the side. 

To gain further experience, he came over to England again in 1994 when he played in the Central Lancashire League as a professional for Walsden. During that season he again came over and stayed at Cottam and played in a couple of games at Milton including another benefit game against a Notts XI.

The correspondent and his wife renewed their connection with Andy and his fiancée Dione on a visit to Australia last Autumn. By that time the name Bichel was one of the first penciled in on the Queensland team sheet following the state's winning of the Sheffield Shield in 1994-95 and Mercantile Mutual Cup in 1995-96. 

Fine performances in both these competitions throughout October including five wickets in each innings against New South Wales - his first innings included the wickets of Australian captain Mark Taylor and both the Waugh brothers - brought his name to the attention of the Australian selectors. 

The first recognition of these performances was selection for a Northern Territories Invitation XI against the West Indies touring team, in Alice Springs on November 12. I was there! This was followed by a place in Australia 'A' team against the tourists in Hobart, Tasmania, which was televised Australia-wide and Brian Lara was one of Bichel's four victims in the first innings Further fine performances in Sheffield Shield games saw Andy become the leading wicket taker in Australia with 29 wickets at an average just over 16 runs apiece. This brought selection for the remaining games in the Carlton and United One Day Tournament against both West Indies and Pakistan. 

Failure to qualify for the final of this competition was a disappointment but this was made up for Andy by his dismissal of the cream of the Pakistan batting in the last game in Melbourne. 

This fine performance brought selection for the full Australian Test Match against West Indies in Adelaide on January 25. This established the name of Andy Bichel as opening partner with Glen McGrath in the Australian attack and the match resulted in an easy win for the home team. He again opened the bowling the following week at Perth, unfortunately with not so much success, as West Indies pulled one back in the series. 

Between these last two Tests the fourteen man touring side to go to South Africa was announced and it included the name of Andy Bichel. The only one selection now Andy has to look forward to is to come to this summer's tour of England that will make his dream season complete. 

All those who met him during his time with Milton will be keeping their fingers crossed for him and will look forward to renewing their friendships once again with this fine young cricketer.

Andy Bichel - Milton
Worcestershire & Australia

Test Match Cricketers who have played at the Riverside Ground Milton 

CHRIS ADAMS (ENGLAND) :- Hard hitting batsman, formally with Derbyshire and
currently captain of Sussex. May still have a part to play in Tests and One Day Internationals.

JIMMY ADAMS (WEST INDIES) :- Left-hand bat and useful slow bowler who spent a season at Trent Bridge as Notts. over-seas player. Captained West Indies in the series against Australia when Brian Lara was injured.

CHRIS BROAD (ENGLAND) :- Left-hand opening bat particularly successful against quick bowling. Voted player of the series when he toured Australia. Has since made a career in broadcasting.

ANDY BICHEL (AUSTRALIA) : Arrived in England as an "unknown" from the Queensland Outback. After a record-breaking season with Milton he returned home to make a meteoric rise to the top level and a place in the Australian Test Team. (See article above)

CHRIS CAIRNS (NEW ZEALAND) :- Potentially top-class ail-rounder but inconsistent with both bat and ball. On his day has produced match-winning performances for both New Zealand and Notts. where he had a spell as overseas player.

DILIP DOSHI (INDIA) :- Slow left-arm bowler who achieved fame when playing for Notts. in a one day match by bowling his allotted eight overs without conceding a run. Always regarded Derek Randall as his 'Rabbit' when bowling to him in Test Cricket.

BRUCE FRENCH (ENGLAND) :- Kept wicket for his country on numerous occasions and was a member of the most successful post-war Notts. side, winning several championship and cup medals. Bruce comes from a well known Welbeck cricketing family several of whom have made their mark in the Bassetlaw League.

MARK GREATBACH (NEW ZEALAND) :- A consistent upper-order batsman who often produced his best innings when his country most needed one.

SIR RICHARD HADLEE (NEW ZEALAND) :- Arguably the most famous cricketer to have played at Milton, Richard dominated New Zealand's cricket for many years. A remarkably consistent opening bowler and hard-hitting batsman he achieved the legendary "double" of 100 wickets and 1000 runs in a season during his spell at Trent Bridge. Richard is the son of Walter Hadlee who captained New Zealand in a record number of Tests.

EDDIE HEMMING (ENGLAND) :- Joined Notts. from Wanzrickshire, Eddie formed a partnership with Mike Bore affectionately known as The Roly-Poly Spin Twins. He served England well both as an off-spinner and a tenacious lower-order batsman, often used as a night-watchman. Also remembered for squirting Peter Lever to third man for four off the last ball to win a one day final at Lords.

CHRIS LEWIS (ENGLAND) :- Has always promised to be an effective all-rounder at the highest level. Genuinely quick as a bowler, a hard-hitting batsman and brilliant fielder but fitness and temperament have too often blighted his career. Ironically in this world cup year he is playing better than ever, now that it is too late to influence the selectors.

NIRMAL NANAN (WEST INDIES) :- Played for many years at Trent Bridge before
achieving selection for his native country late in his career. Milton players will remember him getting "lost" in the outfield one dark evening at Mansfield Colliery!

DEREK RANDALL (ENGLAND) :- The most "local" of Milton's star visitors. Derek was one of England's most colourful cricketers, unorthodox batsman and brilliant fielder. His 174 in the Centenary Test at Melbourne was perhaps the highlight of his career. His carefree approach to the game, especially when running between the wickets did not always endear him to his superiors. Clive Rice, his long-suffering skipper, blames Derek for his premature loss of hair while Notts. Manager Ken Taylor simply described him as "barmy"

TIM ROBINSON (ENGLAND) :- The quiet man of Notts. cricket, Tim's contribution to his county's success has often been underestimated. He has been a remarkably consistent opening bat and many good judges think he did not get sufficient opportunities in Test Cricket. Milton had early notice of his talent when he plundered a teen-age century at Teversal.

CLIVE RICE (SOUTH AFRICA) :- Most unfortunate that the height of his career coincided with South Africa being outlawed from Test Cricket. Apart from his considerable contributions with bat and ball, his dynamic leadership played a major part in Notts. two championships and other major trophy successes in the "Golden Eighties". We all hope that his recent appointment as Manager can bring about a long overdue revival at Trent Bridge.

FKANKLYN STEPHENSON (WEST INDIES) :- Had the unenviable job of replacing Richard Hadlee as Notts. over-seas player. Proved his doubters very wrong by emulating the "great Man's" double act in his first season at Trent Bridge. A genial cricketer who seemed to get his greatest satisfaction by fooling many top batsmen with his famous slower ball.

PETER SUCH (ENGLAND) :- One of few modern cricketers who still believe the old adage that bowlers are meant to bowl and the others do the batting and fielding. Peter in his unassuming manner, has become a successful off-spinner at both county and Test Match level.

ULMAN AFZAAL (ENGLAND) :- Entered the Test scene this season (2001) after successful seasons with Notts. Played for Notts. Colts against Milton in 1994 in what is still the highest aggregate of runs scored in any Milton League match, Milton scoring 287 to lose with several overs to spare, Afzaal contributing with a very quick 92. 

Other notable cricketers who have visited the Riverside Ground include

JOHN REID (NEW ZEALAND) :- Captained his country for a record three Test Series in England. For many years also held the record for the number of sixes in a test innings. Now one of the top Test Match Referees, renowned for his hard-line approach to the present day problem of tantrums on the field.

HAROLD LARWOOD (ENGLAND) :- Legendary fast bowler of bodyline fame who began his career in the Bassetlaw League. Harold visited Milton when he returned from Australia for Notts. 150 year celebrations. The club appropriately laid on a high scoring tie with local rivals Retford to mark the occasion.

LES JACKSON (ENGLAND) :- Devastating new-ball bowler, especially on Derbyshire's green wickets. Unfortunate to coincide with a vintage crop of English fast bowlers, so did not get the amount of test match selection many thought he deserved.