The Evolution of Cricket on Hampton
Hampton Cricket Club were founded in 2004 when a small group of Hamptonites, led by the local vicar Clive Deverell, decided that a developing community with the ambition of Hampton needs a thriving cricket club at its heart. At this time the early discussions with OH Hampton indicated that playing and dedicated pavilion facilities at Clayburn Road would be in place for community use for the 2007 season.
Supported by a loan from the Hampton Community Sports Association (HCSA) the group developed a team for the 2005 season that played friendly matches away from home and looked to find a ground to play home fixtures. A home ground was needed to enter into a formal leagues structure to secure playing members to develop a club that would be ready to take on the management of the proposed Clayburn Road facilities.
Cricket is unlike any other community based team sport. You cannot just turn up and play then go home after 90 minutes. To play competitive and safe cricket for adults and juniors requires time, resources, specialist skills, dedication, loyalty, equipment and resilience. To develop, nurture and maintain a grass cricket wicket and a safe outfield requires hours and hours of toil and love, during summer and winter.
The pay-off, however, is unlike any other physical team sport. Diversity is at the heart of any good cricket club. In what other sport can young and old, men and women, able and disabled people from a range of cultural backgrounds play competitive sport together? Cricket also supports youth (and adult!) social and educational development. The spirit and laws of the game help develop numeracy skills and personal behaviours such as humility, respect and patience. Maximising these has been central to Hampton Cricket Club’s philosophy from Day 1.
For the 2005 season the club entered into the Huntingdonshire (Hunts) Cricket League Division 4. The club found their temporary home in Longthorpe where they entered a ground-sharing arrangement with Kings Keys CC. With considerable club investment, Longthorpe was developed into a nice playing environment but suffered from a lack of infrastructure suitable for cricket (water and welfare facilities).
The early years at Longthorpe were all about consolidation in league cricket and growing a playing squad. In 2007 the club also entered the new Peterborough midweek cricket league to play T20 cricket. At the stage it was clear that plans for Clayburn Road were not progressing as quickly as the Club hoped. The Club had helped informed the design and planning application for the site, which had been submitted, however sadly the recession from 2008 hit Hampton hard and community facilities and housing growth dried up.
At this point the Club assessed their options and decided that in order to continue to grow they needed to move from Longthorpe to somewhere with dedicated cricket welfare facilities where they had sole control over ground management.
The club moved to dedicated playing and pavilion facilities in the village of Elton for the 2009 season. A significant investment in time and money was required as the facilities had been dormant for a couple of seasons. The arrangement with Elton was still a temporary one pending developments on Hampton. The move to Elton enabled both stability and growth on and off the pitch. The 1st XI gained promotion to Hunts Division 3 for the 2010 season and for the 2011 season a 2nd XI (Rutland League) and a dedicated women’s team were started.
In late 2011 the plans for the Clayburn Road site in Hampton evolved and were refreshed in response to the economic climate and the changing requirements for schooling on Hampton. This meant that the Clayburn Road site, which was earmarked for dedicated community sports, had to evolve. The site was now earmarked for a third primary school on Hampton.
The Cricket Club recognised the changing drivers and were keen to ensure the original ambitions for the site and for community cricket could also still be realised. They worked closely with OH Hampton and Peterborough City Council to inform the revised plans for the site. This included the provision of a grass cricket wicket to English Cricket Board standards as well as informing the specification and design of the buildings (eg changing rooms, storage, water provision, clubroom). In the 2012 season the 1st XI was promoted to Hunts Division 2 and given the increased certainty around the facilities at Clayburn Road the club decided the could not commit to a longer term arrangement at Elton so needed to enact plans to transition to Hampton.
As the construction of the Clayburn Road site continued, in the 2013 an d2014 seasons the club ground-shared with Orton Park CC and Yaxley CC having developed good links with neighbouring clubs. During this time the club were in continued discussions with OH Hampton, Peterborough City Council and, later, Vivacity regarding the lease arrangements to enable the club to move to Hampton and really advance community cricket.
Playing cricket outside of Hampton has been challenging in terms of growth and stability of a playing squad and formal Committee infrastructure. The Club has a core of loyal Hamptionite members and then over the years, mirroring Hampton as a community, a variety of transient Hampton based players, and then has drawn in people from around Peterborough. The club’s inclusive and friendly atmosphere, being in contrast to a number of clubs in the local leagues.
The 2014 season began the exponential growth of the cricket club. As the grass wicket was ‘bedding-in’, the club introduced a Saturday 2nd XI who played on Hampton using Hampton College’s Astroturf wicket. It was fantastic to finally play on Hampton. The 1st XI had also gained promotion to Hunts Division 1.
This enabled the club to further develop links with local businesses and the community itself. This had been challenging to achieve and maintain whilst being a nomadic club and there being changing plans and timescales around facilities on Hampton.
Thanks to a grant from Hampton Parish Council, the club’s investment in gaining accredited coaches, meant they could introduce and offer free coaching sessions for girls and boys during the Summer of 2014. This has been very well received and has continued in 2015. On average 30 boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 12 receive weekly free coaching. The aim is to nurture this into formal youth teams for the 2016 season whilst still offering accessibility for those who are not looking for or ready for formal cricket.
2015 has been a milestone season. The Club’s first season on Hampton grass at a ground they can truly feel at home at. The grass wicket and the facilities have been well received by players, visiting sides and crucially the leagues. This feedback has made all the years of toil worthwhile.
Playing on Hampton has required an acceleration of the Club’s funding plans. New expensive equipment has been needed to maintain the grass wicket and play quality, safe cricket for adults and juniors (new roller, sight-screens, boundary rope, covers etc).
Investment has paid-off in that since the first game on Hampton grass on 18 April 2015, a significant number of new players have joined the club and new sponsoring partnerships have come forward more easily than before. Over 60 players have played games for the club in the 2015 season. Cross Keys Homes are welcomed as the Club’s first major funding sponsor, enabling the purchase of wicket covers.
The Club are now starting to attract players based on Hampton who have previously played for other clubs in the area. It seems the community are responding to the sights and sounds of cricket on Hampton!
The future is a bright one and the original vision for inclusive community cricket on Hampton has started to materialise. To sustain and grow it requires ongoing investment of time, money and commitment of the Club primarily but also the community, local businesses and governing bodies.
Onwards and upwards!!
Paul Burrows, Hampton Cricket Club member (2005-2015) August 2015