Pelicans 50th Anniversary Dinner, Saturday 28th June 2014

More than 100 guests enjoyed a dinner dance at Little Missenden Village Hall, as the Pelicans celebrated their 50th anniversary. (To learn more about the history of the Great Missenden and Pelicans cricket clubs, click HERE.)

Absent friends were remembered, in particular the club’s prime early mover Brian Ballard. Memories were shared, including of the first match on 7th June 1964 v Speen, with The Pelicans scoring 145 and bowling out Speen for 30. Tony Robins, who took 7 wickets for 8 runs with his leg spin, was present at the dinner.

Guest speaker Mike Selvey explained how, despite taking 4-41 in his first Test innings for England, he ended up on the wrong end of a 425-run thrashing. He should compare notes with Asad…

Votes of thanks were made, notably to Susan and Peter Greenwood, and to Tom Kearney.

Earlier in the day, players of various ages had dodged the rain, enjoying a double-wicket competition, won by David Bailey and Richard Frank. Sadly the exertions of the night before seemed to take their toll on Sunday, resulting in a loss to Kensington CC. We shall need to be on better form when picking up the gauntlet thrown down in emphatic style by one of our guests at the Hit or Miss table!

Please enjoy the photos below – clicking on one will open a gallery-style slideshow.


 

A tale of two clubs

The early records of the club seem to have been lost but we believe that cricket in the village dates from the 1870s when a ‘Missenden’ team played on a field near The Black Horse at the Mobwell end of the village. The team moved in 1901 to its present ground conveniently situated behind the Nag’s Head Pub.

Great Missenden Cricket Club

The Great Missenden Cricket Club played only friendly cricket and a pavilion consisting of two small dressing rooms was erected on a base of railway sleepers in the early 1920s. This served the club for fifty seasons, though there was no power or water. In 1972 the Committee purchased a pre-fabricated building and negotiated planning permission for a new pavilion. During the President’s Match on Sunday 7th July 1974 the pavilion was declared open by Eunice and Harry Lechmere who were joint, and most generous presidents for thirty years.

In the sixties League cricket was introduced in the area and a number of players left to join Prestwood C.C which opted to join the League. It was then that John Sutton took over as captain of Great Missenden C.C from 1966 to 1974 and he managed to get a full side together again and build up the strength of the club.

However, after nearly a century of good cricket when the GMCC often ran both Saturday and Sunday sides there was a setback in the fortunes of the club, which eventually led to its amalgamation with the Pelicans.

The Pelicans

The cricket club name, The Pelicans, originated from a song sung after every game by Pinner Rugby Club. A successful Sunday side under that name, and captained by Brian Ballard, won the Durrent Cup at Old Merchant Taylors ground in 1952 and the pelican became the Pinner Rugby Club’s emblem.

Their first match was played at Speen on the 7th June 1964 with seven players from Northwood C.C and three from Pinner. Originally there were only five or six fixtures a season against several other local sides, including The Lee, Great Hampden, Chenies, Chesham and Sarratt, most of the players still coming out from Northwood. By 1968 Barn Meadow, behind the Eagle in Old Amersham was being hired for home games, and occasionally Hervines Park in new Amersham.

After Brian Ballard had captained The Pelicans for twenty years Peter Greenwood took over as captain in 1985 for the next ten years. In his role as fixture secretary B.B improved and enlarged the fixture list and over the years the standard of the cricket has also greatly improved. The club has also considerably expanded, having both a strong contingent of playing members and a number of non-playing members, several of whom are also members of the M.C.C.

The first Pelicans C.C dinner was held at The Black Horse in 1964 and the former landlord, Eric Chadwick, closed the pub so the fourteen members could enjoy Eileen’s cooking until the early hours. The Red Lion, The George, The Nag’s Head and The Cross Keys, as well as the Memorial Hall, have all accommodated the club for its Annual Dinner. It has also had the privilege of holding its 25th, 30th and the 35th dinners in the Committee Dining Room at Lord’s, the last time with fellow members of the joint Great Missenden Pelicans Cricket Club and with their old friend and distinguished cricketer, Ted Dexter, as their guest and speaker.

Two become one

In 1992 the Pelicans C.C, which had an impressive list of fixtures but no ground of its own, began to hire the Nag’s Head Meadow ground for its home games and contribute to the restoration and upkeep of the ground and pavilion. In 1995 when the GMCC found it was no longer able to raise a side or maintain the ground, the decision was made to amalgamate the Great Missenden C.C with the Pelicans C.C. The joint club is called the Great Missenden Pelicans Cricket Club and the link with the Pelicans’ roots is maintained through Life President Jenny Ballard, wife of Founder and former Life President Brian Ballard.

Once the Great Missenden Pelicans C.C took over the management of the club it obtained two much valued grants, including one from the Great Missenden Parish Council. With generous donations and much effort from the members as well, great improvements have been made to the ground and to the wicket. The pavilion has also been considerably refurbished.

It is hoped that cricket will continue to be played in Great Missenden for many years to come – perhaps even for another century.


Brian Hilton, former Chairman and Secretary of the Great Missenden Cricket Club, has kindly provided a series of photos, mainly from the opening of the current pavilion on 7th July 1975, but also one or two other team photos.

He reminisces:

“I was Chairman/Secretary at the time and appear in blazer in several. The opening was by Eunice and Harry Letchmere of the village bookshop, who were joint Presidents, I can’t remember who we were playing! The boys team was mid 70′s and has my son Crispin on the left and Clinton Ledger on the right, but the other names have gone. Peter Nicholls and I ran the boys team for a year or two.

Some of the names I can recognize are: Doug Walker (with beard), Richard Pike, Maurice Yeatman, John Sutton (Capt), John Picken, Peter Nicholls, Cliff Anderson (WK), John Culley (WK) and even the Rev Charles Drummond, who was Vicar of Missenden at the time (in a deckchair). I don’t have any documents of the period, but there were scorebooks in the pavilion. Perhaps others could fill in more names – it was 35 years ago!

Our ‘pavilion’ had been a chicken hut with no power or water. We had a tap in the hedge by the road. The floor had gone and it was used by courting couples. I said if the Club would make me chairman of a building committee I would build ‘em a new pavilion. It must have been a good night in the Nag’s!

The building was a wartime prefab used in Marlow by a retired RN officer while he built his own house, from whom I purchased it for a song. With Boy Scout help from Missenden, we demolished it and stored it up at Great Kingshill on a player’s land until the end of 1974. Over the winter we got planning permission, and with Maurice Yeatman’s assistance we got grants from The Lords Taverners, The Playing Fields Association and Barclays.

Having had a concrete base put in by Brian Ballard, of the Pelicans, we built the pavilion ourselves and used it for the 1975 season, opening officially in July. The Council asked me to paint it black, rather than the Buckingham Green we had chosen, but when I told them our results were not that bad, they left it at that! The day Barry Tomlin, the plumber and old player, connected the water, we all left the game to flush the loo in celebration.”