The Modern Club

The last two decades have undoubtedly been among the most stable and successful in the club's history. The activities of these years have been well recorded in the local press and in our own village magazine St. Osyth News, so no attempt will be made here to provide an exhaustive review.

St. Osyth were latecomers to league cricket, not taking their place in the Lancaster Garages League ( now the PDQ Cars North Essex League ) until eleven years after its formation. The club moved quickly to make up for lost time and within five years was confident enough to enter a 2nd. XI into the league.

This was an exciting time for the club. The 1st. XI enjoyed a particularly memorable year in 1994 winning the Second Division championship by a handsome margin. Anthony Hazelton, Dave Wolton, Dave Warner and Alan Dixon provided the club with perhaps its most potent ever bowling attack. Hazelton, bowling fast, took a record 46 league wickets, enough to win him the league's divisional bowling award ( he would add to this the batting award for the same division in 2002 ). The captain Colin Dixon contributed two centuries this year, but probably his most spectacular innings had come the summer before when he hammered a club record 177 against Tendring, an innings which included no less than seven sixes and 20 fours.

This side failed to realise its potential in the First Division, but when it returned to the top flight again in 1999, it achieved its best league position to date finishing third and missing out on the runners-up spot by just 0.25 of a point. Nick Shuttleworth played the leading role on this occasion with an aggregate of over 700 league runs. Anti-climax again followed with relegation in 2000, but the 1st. XI was back in the First Division by 2003 when it finished in a creditable seventh place under current captain Craig Scott.

The 2nd. XI has spent its entire existence in the lower divisions of the league, but it has fulfilled exactly the role envisaged for it, notably in providing young players with the all important stepping stone between colts and 1st. XI cricket. In captaining the side for its first seven seasons Mark Shuttleworth played an important part in getting the side established. Another major contributor has been the present captain Phil Goddard. He enjoyed a vintage year in 2003, scoring in excess of 500 runs, taking 29 wickets, and finishing second in both the divisional batting and bowling averages.

Commendable though all this may be, the club's greatest publicity coup unquestionably came at the end of the 1994 season when secretary Mark Shuttleworth organised a tour to Monaco. The decision to travel to the principality and take on the colourful and decidedly cosmopolitan Monte Carlo Cricket Club really ignited media interest, with Anglia TV even coming to Cowley Park to film an unusually well attended pre-tour practice session !

The actual cricket in Monaco played on a matting pitch in unexpectedly damp conditions may not have been of the highest calibre, but St. Osyth won the main fixture, and the eighteen club members who made the trip will certainly not forget the experience in a hurry.

St Osyth 1st XI 1994, Lancaster Garages League Second Division
Champions: (back row from left) Richard Marston, David Fenner,Gary Puxley, Alan Dixon, Anthony Hazelton, Matt Parlour.
(front row from left) Dean Williams, Nick Shuttleworth, Colin Dixon (captain), Dave Wolton, Dave Warner.

Touring was in fact highly popular with club members around this time with Cambridge, Yorkshire and Somerset all visited on more than one occasion. After Monaco, the tradition was extended with successful ( in social if not result terms ! ) trips to Ireland and Scotland which featured matches against some of the top club sides in Dublin and Edinburgh.

Another St. Osyth speciality of the nineties was six-a-side indoor cricket. The club excelled at this form of the game winning a string of titles in both the Clacton and Royal London ( Colchester ) competitions, and in 1996 came within one match of qualifying for the Essex county finals.

Ground problems have been a constant feature of this story and are still apt to dominate proceedings at club committee meetings, as the limited space at Cowley Park struggles to absorb a volume of cricket and football which would have been inconceivable when the ground was laid out in the 1920s. As we have seen the old pavilion has defied talk of demolition on several occasions and has latterly enjoyed a new lease of life with the addition firstly of new dressing rooms and most recently of a licensed bar. The pace of change at the ground has quickened considerably since the parish council relinquished day-to-day control of the ground in the mid-nineties and facilitated the successful re-establishment of an independent management committee exactly as envisaged in the original trust deed.

Ready to leave for Monaco, September 1994: (back row from left)
Andrew Snaith, Michael Snaith, David Melding, Allen Leeder, Dave Wolton, Matt Parlour, Anthony Hazelton, Alan Dixon, Stephen Mangham, Ron Dunn, Kevin Williams.
(front row from left) Dean Williams, Deave Barnes, Mark Shuttleworth, Ray Frith, Colin Dixon, Nick Shuttleworth, Peter Hudson.

The cricket club plays a full part in St. Osyth Playing Field charity as the managing body is known, but the tradition of self-reliance evident in earlier times is still apparent today. The club continues to take full responsibility for the maintenance of the cricket 'table', and with funding from the National Lottery 'Awards for All' programme successfully installed a full length artificial pitch in time for the 2001 season.

This has proved a particular asset for the club's colts section. St. Osyth is unusual amongst village clubs in this area in having run colts teams virtually without a break for more than two decades. The colts have achieved some notable successes in this time especially in 2001 when the club's under 16 side won its division of the Osborne Junior Cricket League. Players continue to progress from colts to senior cricket at a rate which many larger clubs would envy. On occasions last summer more than half of the 1st. XI consisted of players who began their cricket with the colts.

St. Osyth is among the first clubs in the county to be preparing an application to the England and Wales Cricket Board's ClubMark quality standards scheme. This will place great emphasis on youth development work because the club recognises that the future of cricket in St. Osyth will increasingly depend on its ability to get more young people actively involved in the game.

Action on Tour: taking on Monte Carlo C.C

Heriot's F.P in Edinburgh in 1996


St. Osyth 1st XI (back row from left) Sean Hennessy, Jon Downes, Graeme Baker, Luke Selway, Paul Hawkins, Alan Seldon
(front row from left) Steve Cowland, Nick Shuttleworth, Craig Scott (captain), Bryan McManus, Richard Marston.

Last Updated ( Friday, 20 November 2009 21:39 )