A SHORT HISTORY OF KIRBY MUXLOE CRICKET CLUB
We have no record of when the cricket club was first founded. Until recently the earliest proof of its existence is a team photograph dated 1931 (Below), however other photographs show some of the same players looking a few years younger which could date about 1928.
At that time we know the team played on the Recreation Ground on Station Road. It has been suggested that, prior to the railway coming to Kirby Muxloe in 1849, cricket was played in a field on the opposite side of Station Road.
Although we have no proof of where the ground was situated, we now have (thanks to some research by Huncote CC) proof that the team was in existance at that time.
An archived copy of the Leicester Mercury dated Saturday 17th September 1842 reports:-
" A friendly cricket match was played at Kirby on Monday last, it being the feast."
The match was a combined Kirby and Ratby team against a combined Thurlaston and Huncote team. A full score-card shows Kirby & Ratby scored 30 in their first innings, G Spencer taking 4 wickets. Thurlaston & Huncote replied with a score of 41. Beaumont taking 5 wickets. In their 2nd innings Kirby & Ratby did slightly better with a score of 38. G Spencer taking another 4 wickets but Thurlaston and Huncote went on to win the match easily scoring 49 for the loss of only two wickets in their second innings.
Since the newspaper report from 1842 we have a hundred year gap when we have no further information. We assume that the club at some point moved to the Recreation Ground and played there until World War II brought a halt to organised cricket. In early 1946 the club was reformed. Players young and old, set about renovating the square and the outfield, cutting and raking up the long grass by hand. The Club President hired a steam driven road roller for a day and players took it in turns to drive it round and round in an attempt to flatten the outfield. The official re-forming of the club was celebrated on 4th May 1946. (Below)
Over the following years the club thrived, running two Saturday teams as well as having a full Sunday fixture list. Apparently, in those days, selection for away games was often based on car ownership rather than cricketing ability! The Presidents Day fixture was one of the most important dates on the fixture list with guest players from Leicestershire CC and invited players from various local clubs. It was an all-day game with lunch and tea intervals being taken. The Presidents Team in the photograph below, possibly early 1960’s, includes four Leicestershire players, Terry Spencer, Rodney Pratt, Maurice Hallam and Ray Julian.
Looking at the impressive size of the pavilion behind the players suggests it had been there for many years.
In the mid 1970’s the Cricket Club and the Football Club, who also used the Recreation Ground, worked together to raise the funds to buy and develop a plot of land on Ratby Lane. Through a lot of hard work and determination the Sports Club with bar and changing facilities was built overlooking the football pitch. At the far side of the ground a separate cricket pitch was laid out with its own small wooden pavilion. The cricket club moved to the new ground in 1979, initially playing friendly fixtures, but, at the start of the 1981 season became members of the recently formed Leicestershire Clubs League. At that time there was still a full Sunday fixture list playing many local village sides but there were also games against some of the big Leicester factory teams like British Shoe, Symmingtons and Bentleys, most now closed down and grounds disappeared.
At that time a match was played each season, home one season away the next, against Barkby United for the “Capey Cup” and against Ratby Town for the “Geary Cup”. Kirby also organised “The Louis Freeman Cup” each season. This was an eight team, invitation cup competition. Leicester Banks were regular winners although Kirby did manage to win the trophy in 1989. Over the years because of league commitments, County Cup and League Cup competitions these one off matches have been dropped from the fixture list.
By 2003 the original little wooden pavilion had become unusable. Talks were being held with the Sports Club and the Football Team over the possibility of building a new brick pavilion between the football pitch and cricket pitch that would provide facilities for both sports. As a temporary measure the little pavilion was replaced by a second-hand Portacabin. This soon became damp and rotten. In late 2007 when it was broken in to and our bowling machine was stolen the decision was made to build a new pavilion. The cost of a shared facility had proved prohibitive so we decided that we would have to go ahead on our own.
Thus it was that on 4th January 2008 the club appeared on local television, national radio and in the local papers when NatWest CricketForce 2008 came to Kirby Muxloe Cricket Club. The England U19 Cricket Team joined forces with club members past and present, their families, volunteers from the local community and from the ECB together with former England Captain Mike Gatting to assist in the building of our new pavilion.
A video of how we planned, raised funds for, and built the pavilion was made by the ECB and was distributed to every cricket club in the UK to show what could be achieved by a small cricket club involving the local community. As a thank you for our efforts in this special NatWest CricketForce event and for allowing the making of the video, the ECB presented us with a fantastic Daktronics Digital Scoreboard. The new pavilion was opened on 1st June 2008 and the scoreboard was officially opened by Mike Gatting OBE on 12th May 2009.
The new pavilion provided excellent changing facilities but a shortage of funds in 2008 meant that we were unable to include toilets or showers as it was built. This was eventually put right in 2012 when, after many fund raising events, sponsorship from local companies and financial support from the Parish Council and the Sports and Village Club as well as players past and present, the final part of our pavilion development was able to go ahead with the construction of an extension to the pavilion which provided toilet and shower facilities for each team; an umpires changing room with toilet and shower; a toilet, with disabled access from the outside of the building, for the use of spectators. The new facilities were officially opened at the start of the 2013 season.