A unique look back at the club’s history…

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From the archive: how Milton Cricket Club reformed – but only just

In this unique look back at the club’s history, former captain and now honorary life vice-president Richard Ellis recalls how MCC was revived in a wooden hut in 1963 and that for a long time, only one ‘non-Miltoner’ was allowed to play in the team

Soon after moving to Willow Crescent in 1963, I got a note saying there was to be a meeting about restarting the cricket club. It was held in a wooden hut at the bottom of Willow Crescent, which I believe was the original village hall. The main initiators were Frank Burling and Harry Capitain, and I think the turnout was only about 10 people – not enough to make a team!

However, after much discussion, we agreed to contact as many people as possible and eventually we had enough to apply for the Minor League. I understood from Frank that the club had been restarted after the War and played in Landbeach for a while, and that there was some basic gear from those days that was available to start us off.

The team was made up of village residents and for a long time we had a rule that only one “outsider” could play, but when we had two teams, this wasn’t possible.

Initially our home ground was Jesus Green in Cambridge, with tea served in a café by the river. When we joined the Lower Division North, we had to find a home (Milton) ground. We obtained permission to create a square on the recreation ground away from the football pitch, and I contacted a well-known groundsman from Fenners named Mr Coot.

Mr Coot came out and gave us some valuable advice. Initially we had to kill all the grass, after which we dug out the square and filled it with fantastic top soil that was obtained from the sugar beet factory in Ely and transported to the ground by a local farmer. After two years we were able to call this home and share the pavilion with the football team. We also procured a cricket net from Fenners and laid a concrete strip for practice evenings.

Later, with the new village hall, we enjoyed many games plus the excellent teas prepared by our wives, led by Joyce Burling. In the usual village way, after-match drinks were held in the local pub, but with four in the village, we had to rotate between them. The club always held a dinner-dance in the hall in November.

My main role as a player was as opening bowler and I remember the fierce battles with the opening bowler from Chittering to end up as leading wicket taker. We also had matches against the 39th Engineers regiment at Waterbeach Barracks every year where my key adversary was Major Keith Mitchell, their opening bat, who became my next-door neighbour and a friend of the family. He went on to become a league umpire.

I must have played for Milton for around 20 years and was captain for about eight of them. I think I may still have an MCC cap! Some of the names I remember are Don Cox, David Crabbe (who opened the bowling with me), Ted Easy, Albert Cowell (both of whom were wicket-keepers), Trevor Burling, Paul Capitain and many others whose names I have forgotten.

I remember a cup match at Parker’s Piece in Cambridge that went on until it got dark and we were relying on the street lamps to see the ball!

There was a great team spirit, which was encouraged by Frank Burling in his own special way.

We had some successes, winning Division 4 North in 1973 and the Minor League Cup in 1978.

Milton Cricket Club was a key part of village life and brought many locals together, especially their wives and children. Ted Easy and I ran a clay pigeon shoot every year to raise funds for the club.

When I moved up to Manchester to work for Granada Television in 1986 I stayed in touch with the club and then visited the new ground by Tesco when I was down in Cambridge.

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