Long Itchington Cricket Club celebrated the 25th anniversary of its junior section with two special challenge matches at the Stonebridge Lane ground in July.
The club’s newly reformed junior section played its very first U13 friendly away fixture, as recorded in its first ever scorebook, against Barby in June 1992. It was therefore fitting that LICC marked the occasion by hosting a specially arranged game against Barby at its annual Club Open Day, with the sides represented by a mix of U11s, U13s and U15s selected by team managers Clive Haywood (Long Itchington) and Chris Bramley (Barby, with help on the day from Tom Middleton). The 20-over game was won by Long Itchington off the very last ball, reversing the original result (which wasn’t anywhere near as close).
This was followed in the afternoon by a special challenge match between players aged from 14 to 40 who have all been through the LICC junior section over the past quarter of a century, and coached by the section’s founders Allen Hickling and Steve Mitchell. The teams included several players whose names appeared in the 1992 scorebook, including Nick Brooks – now the club’s second team captain – Sam Blundell, James Clarke – currently first team captain – and Mitchel Lowe, and more than one who hadn’t picked up a bat or ball for many years!
This game turned out not to be quite as evenly matched as the first one, but the result was never as important as the opportunity for players to catch up and renew old friendships; for friends and families to revisit the ground; and, in many cases for the first time, for visitors to see the new clubhouse that was officially opened two years previously.
That the day was such a success was down to many people who volunteered their time, cake baking skills, and BBQ/scoring expertise (Martin Sutcliffe, whose son Aaron was the youngest junior taking part in the afternoon game). Particular thanks are also due to head groundsman Graham Foster, one of several older LICC members present who were juniors when the club was itself reformed in 1976. Others included assistant groundsman Stephen Rawbone and his brother (and current LICC treasurer) Martyn Rawbone, whose late father Eric was the club’s volunteer groundsman for over 15 years.