The club’s modern history covers the period from the 1990’s until the present day. The history has been compiled using the recollections and stories of members past and present, articles from the Chalgrave News, and from old copies of club meeting notes and other documents. Any errors or omissions are unintentional and probably down to old age and fading memories! If you do spot any errors or can provide missing names etc, please get in touch.
Special thanks to Life Member, Nev Andrews, who kindly supplied most of the photographs and documents for the history.
Colin Dicker lived in Chalton and played cricket for Chalgrave from around 1984. He enjoyed his cricket and scored several half-centuries for the club. When the older players retired from the game, Colin took over the role of captain and worked very hard to keep the grounds playable. One day in the Queens head Colin Dicker mentioned that because of problems in low membership of his Saturday league team they were also struggling to find sufficient monies to pay the field rent. It was suggested to raise a Sunday team away from the Saturday team to help with pitch rental fees. The Sunday team became the Chalgrave Sports Club and for one season the pitch was played on Saturdays and Sundays. The next season it was just used by Chalgrave Sports Club team.
It was a difficult time and Colin always struggled to find eleven players. Eventually, after some years, the struggle became too much, so in the mid-1990s Colin and the few remaining players left to join with Milton Bryan cricket club. The Chalgrave ground was abandoned and without a team for some years, and the club saw no activity.
Around 1998/99 John Kirwin relaunched the club as a sports club rather than just a cricket club. Various locals, including Tony Cornes, Mike Wells, and Nev Andrews all helped to re-establish the club and bring the grounds and facilities back into a usable condition. Ambitious plans were made to try and raise sufficient funds (around £8,000) to install an all-weather pitch along with a permanent nets area in one corner of the ground to enable players to practise. This is not a word that many of the members would readily recognise as most of the practice sessions generally took place with one elbow on the bar of one of the local pubs, but the club were keen to improve both their game and the facilities provided to the members. The all-weather pitch was eventually installed and paid for with the help of a National Lottery grant and was of the same standard all weather pitch as seen at County Cricket grounds.
The club was always keen to recruit new players and open to anyone who was enthusiastic and willing to play, with an aptitude in cricket not a strict requirement. Although matches were hard fought, they were not taken too seriously. Beer tended to feature prominently, before, during, and after matches. It was a common sight to see cans and bottles sitting behind the wickets or in the umpire’s pockets. One unusual rule was that if during play the cricket ball hit a beer can on the field it counted as 5 extras to the batting team, but in all the years no beer can (full or empty) was ever hit – although others recall someone getting very upset about losing the contents of their can due to a particularly ferocious cover drive!
The club setup the Chalgrave and District Friendly Cricket League which consisted of various local pubs and clubs, such as The Plough Inn, Bedford Arms, The Victoria, The Old Sun, Carpenters Arms, and the Dunstable Road Runners. This proved a great success, and each season would traditionally open with a friendly but fiercely contested match between The Plough and the Queens Head.
The club played under the guise of the Plough Inn, supported by the then landlord, Dave Worsley, who helped with providing kit, as well as tea & sandwiches on a match day.
A combination of poor weather throughout the summer and a couple of opposition teams cancelling at the last moment meant that very few cricket matches were played during the year. This was a great pity because of all the hard work in raising funds to purchase ground maintenance equipment and the dedicated efforts of the ground preparation team. Despite this the Plough did go on to win the league, all be it very narrowly. Several new players came forward from the parish to swell the overall membership.
Further improvements to the sports ground took place throughout the year. Apart from work on cleaning up the pavilion, the cricket practise net was improved after being decimated by moles (which were removed thanks to our resident mole catcher and assistants). A concrete base was laid, and various matting obtained which would allow anyone who wanted to use the nets to do so even when the outfield was damp.
Having won the league the previous year, 2002 saw the Plough finish bottom, with the Carpenters Arms in Harlington topping the league. Despite this the Plough did win the traditional season opened against the Queens Head:
The Plough XI vs. The Queen Head XI – 16 June 2002
Cricket correspondent : John Kirwin
The afternoon of June 16 saw the annual clash of the titans, when teams from The Plough in Wingfield and The Queen’s Head in Tebworth locked in cricket combat. This was the first match to be played on the Wingfield ground in the 2002 season – an excellent curtain raiser.
Preparation by the expert ground staff (Tony Comes, Mike Wells and Sam Fenwick and Neville Andrews) resulted in an immaculate pitch, clearly the envy of the groundsman at Lord’s, who popped up to get some advice!! The outfield was a picture of a smooth and lush sward marred only by the occasional dandelion and molehill.
With a warm sun shining, twenty two finely tuned athletes took to the field, only one or two muttering that they hadn’t finished their beer when they had been dragged from the pub. The Plough won the toss and captain David Cestaro opted to bat first. Simon Noake and Roger Masters (the latter hotly denying divided loyalty) opening the batting in this thirty over match. The Plough managed to accrue 128 runs for 7 wickets in their allotted 30 overs, with notable contributions from Roger Masters (23), Gary Brown (21) and Captain Cestaro (22 not out). Star bowlers for the QH were Mike Finch ( 4 wickets for 18) and Richard Masters (2 for 15). A chap called Extras actually managed 41 runs, all wides except for one no ball which very nearly removed Gary’s head.
At the interval, all the players and a not inconsiderable number of spectators enjoyed a splendid tea laid on by Frances Masters. Sincere thanks to her; she will be welcome at any of our matches this summer. Despite their rigorous and lengthy period of training in the public bar, the Queen’s Head XI failed to overcome the target set by the Plough, being bowled out for 71 after 23 overs. Young Matt Chinery demonstrated some excellent batting, coming in at 4 and finishing 26 not out, having run out of batting partners. Captain Peter Hadden (10) and David Ralley (11) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures. Plough bowling honours were spread around but Sam Fenwick and Neville Andrews took two wickets each. So, this year’s result – a win for The Plough by 57 runs.
The club started the process to become a charity to try and help with reducing costs (such as a council tax exemption) and allowing the club to be able to make grant applications. The club were also regularly holding various fund-raising events, with race and quiz nights at the village hall always popular.
On 1st June the annual opener saw the Queens Head 51 all out, and the Plough taking the match 52-0. The Queens Head were however declared the beer match winners!
On 13 July against the Bedford Arms, the Plough’s Dave Cestaro and musician Keith Atack (husband of local celebrity Kate Robbins, and father of Emily Atack) set a local record with an 85 run stand on the 8th wicket.
2003 saw the club play the highest number of games (17) since its reconstitution in 1998. This was due in part to the favourable weather conditions and the new artificial pitch allowing the season to start earlier than usual. It had taken almost 4 years to raise sufficient funds to get the artificial pitch installed.
The Plough team put up a valiant fight (as always it seems) throughout the season but were unable to convert enthusiasm into wins! The Victoria went on to win the league and were invited to the league’s first presentation night to be held at the village hall.
Mike Wells took over the role of Club Chairman from John Kirwin. New practice nets were installed, designed and built by Nev Andrews, with help from Jim McGinty to put them up.
As part of the ongoing long term ground improvement plans, the two former old pavilions were to be taken down so they could be replaced with a more secure storage facility. The original old clubhouse in the far-left corner of field, next to footpath, was demolished on 16 October 2004, but the work to also demolish Roger Master’s old garage had to be abandoned when the wind picked up too much.
The club organised a fund-raising car treasure hunt / quiz with 5 intrepid teams driving around 10 sites in South Bedfordshire, answering location related questions along the way. The winners, The Kirwin Family assisted by Kevan Row, returned to enjoy a BBQ and drinks back at the ground with the other teams and supporters.
The annual Plough v Queens Head match was again won by the Plough who finished 97 for 5 to the Queens Head’s 96 for 7. Commiserations and debriefings were undertaken at both pubs following the match.
Plough vs. Queens Head Annual Cricket Match 2004
This not to be missed major event on the sporting calendar took place on Sunday 26th September. The weather was quite good and the conditions perfect for a spectacular match between two well-honed and skilful sides. Sadly this was not the case. A ragbag of players (a very loose term) from the two pubs gathered at the cricket ground following a warm-up session at The Plough. Having lost the toss The Queens Head team batted first and posted what was considered a reasonable score of 96 in their allotted 25 overs of which the top scorers were extras(33) and Matthew Chinery (23).
Tea was taken after that exhausting innings kindly and expertly provided by Frances Masters, ably assisted by Nicola Wells, Jo Finch and Elizabeth Hall (thanks also to Linda Hadden for the lemon cake). The Queen’s Head team felt quite confident at this stage knowing their opponents were bloated with sandwiches, tea, beer and anything else they could get their hands, on but it was not to be. Following the loss of three quick wickets, Tony Comes and Tim Petzing crafted a masterly stand of 52 to virtually win the match between them.
The final scores being Queens Head 96 for 7, and the Plough 97 for 5
The club continued to try and improve the facilities at the ground, including planning for a new pavilion. The committee was made up at the time of Mike Wells (Chairman), Dave Cestaro (Secretary), Tony Cornes (Treasurer), Jim McGinty (Fixtures Secretary), Neville Andrews (Head Groundsman), Roger Masters (Captain), with help from Tom Petzing, John Kirwin (also chief scorer), and Sam Fenwick. Annual membership of the club cost £10 with fees of £4 per match. Another car treasure hunt was planned along with a race night and quiz night to all help raise funds.
Old Dunstablians joined the Friendly League and hurriedly prepared a pitch at their rugby ground, which received mixed reviews for the state of the wicket. The sports club ended the season soundly mid-table, which was probably a fair reflection of their standing. The Bedford Arms (now Toddington CC) once again romped away with the title.
Sam Fenwick, one of the club stalwarts and a committee member, left the club for pastures new. Sam was part of the team for many years and despite his tender age was a great asset not only when playing but also helping the club in various ways. Having completed his Law degree and, after a trip to Australia, he moved to Bristol to work and live.
Nev Andrews completed his groundsmanship training and with assistance from the rest of the team much work was done to improve the grounds.
Long time landowner of the site where the ground was located, Colin Rose, made it known that he was looking to sell the site. This was against the background of a local consortium being panicked into buying up similar parcels of land. The price quoted was £35K, far in excess of the going rate at the time for arable land. The committee decided it was not viable to pursue the purchase at that price but would explorer what other options might be available to them.
Having previously had the luxury of a large pool of players to select from for each match, membership was down and the as the new season loomed the club were on the lookout for new players. The team’s standard was described as ranging from sub-standard to below average, which explained why they had yet to win the league again.
News circulated of a spinner of some renown about to sign for Chalgrave Sports Club. Unfortunately the excitement did not last as the signing failed to materialise for some unknown reason…..
Work party preparing the grounds for the coming season
The AGM welcomed three new members onto the committee, Paul Bannon, Chris Bull and Pip Bull. Paul temporarily stepped in as secretary while David Cestaro was living away from the area for the next 12 months. After many years loyal service, John Kirwin decided to resign from the committee. John had not lived in the village for a couple of years but remained a stalwart supporter of the club. He led the club for many years as chairman and was responsible for the club achieving charitable status and helped the club to enjoy its current level of success. The club continued to try and secure the future of the ground by discussing the possibility of a long term lease with the land agent.
The club attended the village games and ran a very successful Kwik Cricket Game and also organised a Festival of Cricket consisting of a 20-20 tournament over a couple of weekends, complete with drinks and barbeque for the teams and spectators.
7 May 2006 – The Plough Inn v The Queens Head
14 May 2006 – The Plough Inn v Toddington Cricket Club
2 July 2006 – The Road Runners v The Plough Inn (Played at Totternhoe CC)
6 August 2006 – The Plough Inn v Toddington Cricket Club
20 August 2006 – The Plough Inn v The Victoria
Preparation work on the sports ground started very early this year and by the end of April all was ready to start playing cricket. Unfortunately, this coincided with the disappearance of April’s good weather and in the following moths the rain came down, and down. The result being that only 4 league games could be played throughout May, June, and July.
15 April 2007 – Work party getting everything ready for the new season ahead
20 May 2007 – The Plough v The Victoria
The weather was more favourable during August and September which allowed for both the rearranged and remaining games to be completed, with the last rearranged game taking place on 30th September. A notable victory occurred in July for Chalgrave CC when having bowled out Toddington CC for 173 they went on to win with a score of 176 for 1. An incredible achievement as any run chase over 120 for Chalgrave CC usually ends in disaster!
26 August 2007 – The Plough v The Road Runners
16 September 2007 – The Plough v Toddington
Chalgrave were runners up in the league, narrowly missing out on the winners spot by 7 points, which went to Toddington Cricket Club. The honours were reversed when Chalgrave gained their revenge by winning the 10/10 Festival of Cricket competition by beating Toddington CC in the final. It was a fantastic day at the end of the season with good weather, large crowds, great food and drink, and some exciting cricket as well.
23 September 2007 – 10/10 Competition
28 December 2007 – End of Year Christmas Meal at The Plough
Roger Burden, landlord of the Plough Inn, became Chairman of the club with Mike Wells stepped down to take on the Vice Chairman role. At a meeting of the club captains’ various amendments to the rules were discussed, including a change to the ‘6 and out’ rule at the Wingfield ground. Due to the proximity of cars and houses surrounding the ground, sixes were not permitted to be hit, but the rule change would now allow sixes to be hit on the non-road boundaries of the ground, which would use marker posts to allow a clear determination of the legality of a shot.
As well as the snow in April, it was another heavily rain affected season, but groundsman New Andrews worked tirelessly to maintain the wicket and surrounding areas to a good level. Reigning champions Toddington again won the league despite losing a game to the Plough by one run.
The 10/10 competition held at the Chalgrave cricket ground, complete with beer tent, BBQ, and children and adults spectator areas, was again a great success and a most enjoyable day. Defending 10/10 Champions, The Plough, defeated the Road Runners in the final with the winning runs coming in the last over.
Later in the year the club held a successful combined Race Night and Presentation Evening which was enjoyed by everyone and helped raise funds for the club.
Preparations for the new season were hampered by the weather, and it was noted that the clubhouse was still standing, which was a minor miracle given its condition. Unfortunately, the club’s storage container was broken into with various mowers, scarifiers, strimmer’s and hedge trimmers all stolen. The discerning robbers obviously aim to maintain high standards in stolen goods as they declined to take the electric flymo!
The annual 10/10 Festival of Cricket competition, now in its third year, took place on a gloriously sunny 14th July. The sports ground in Wingfield had a very festive look to it with gazebos, tents, bar, BBQ along with plenty of spectators and players enjoying the spectacle.
The rules of the competition were that each side play each other once in a league, with the top two teams going on to play in the grand final. Each game consisted of 20 overs with each team having one innings of a maximum 10 overs. Points were awarded to the winning team of each game with bonus also points available. The draw for the league stage of the competition took place at 10.30 in the morning by which time the BBQ. was well underway serving breakfast to both players and spectators. Teams representing The Plough Wingfield, The Vic Dunstable, Toddington, and Dunstable Road Runners took part in the league stage of the competition with Toddington and The Plough qualifying for the final. The honours went to Toddington, winning the final by 17 runs – Toddington 86 for 1 wicket and The Plough 69 for 5 wickets.
The year finished with a successful fundraising Quiz Night held in November at the Memorial Hall.
The cricket league started well with the Plough topping the table at the halfway point although Toddington CC and the Dunstable Road Runners were both pushing them hard.
The summer 10/10 competition was again a great success with everyone enjoying a well organised day. The weather held out right up until late afternoon when the final was due to be played. Unfortunately a substantial downpour then forced the competition to be abandoned early. 10/10 finalists Toddington and Road runners agreed to share the winner’s trophy for 6 month each.
The second half of the league was tightly contested went down to the last game of the season. The Plough and the Road Runners finished joint top and shared the league title.
The annual presentation night was combined with a fun raising Race Night which was run on the night by the sports club for the first time rather than bringing in someone from outside to do it for them.
The clubhouse had some essential repairs carried out, including roofing work to hopefully stop the outside getting inside. Despite this the clubhouse remained in a sorry state.
It had been a disappointing season with bad weather and teams lack of available players for games, resulting in not enough games being played. Cancelled games and mixed results meant that The Plough won the league despite not having to play all their games.
The annual 10/10 competition took place in July and saw some keenly contested matches take place with players and spectators able to enjoy some great food and the always popular beer tent throughout the day. The Plough took the winner’s trophy with Toddington the runners-up.
This modern history is currently a work in progress, further years coming soon…………