The first 10 Years Club History 1993-2003
There had been a cricket team at Hardwick prior to the development of the Limes Estate and as far as the sketchy information that is available the team played on the ground behind Weatherheads ltd and then when it became unavailable, on Parker Piece in Cambridge. The team folded when it became difficult to attract players although they did have a very successful team.
It wasn’t until Spring 1993 that Dave Markillie asked around the village for anyone who was interested in starting a new team in the village. In the latter part of the same year a team was started with about a dozen keen players. Most of the team were without kit or a ground to play on. This was solved by generous donations from local businesses and utilising college grounds. The first season was made up of friendly games which was just as well because the team ended up playing at least two innings for every innings of the opposition to get anywhere near to a decent score (the team was very rusty). Players at that time were Dave Markillie, Steve Rose, Alan West, Chris Fuller, Peter Laughlin, Iain Hayman, Barry Day, Paul Plane, John Dunn, Duncan Simpson and Kevin Douglas
In September 1993, the cricket club was formalised with Steve Rose as Chairman, John Dunn as Treasurer and Dave Markillie as Secretary. Priorities were to locate a ground to be able to play in the Cambridgeshire Leagues.
1994, saw the club play all its home games at Ciba Geigy’s ground at Duxford. It was a start if you didn’t mind the rabbit holes that were present all over the pitch. The team didn’t win the league that year coming third, but the enthusiasm was there to continue on.
It was decided by the current committee that the club should pursue the dream of building its own cricket square at Hardwick. Plans were put into place to raise £5000, the figure needed for six strips in the centre of the recreation ground. Support from the Parish Council, Community Association and local businesses enabled the club to realise their goal within a year. A new square was planned for the 1995 season. In the meantime 1994 saw the expansion of the club to play evening games in the Business House league under the name of the Blue Lion. The pub was a willing and helpful sponsor. The team were successful in the evening games and were promoted to the next division. The Saturday league team continued under the captaincy of Dave Markillie although they still failed to progress to the next division. Another development was that Dave Markillie and John Dunn went on a coaching course to teach juniors how to play cricket. They took those skills and offered a eight week course for under 11s at the primary school. It was very well attended and youth became the focus for the club for many years. There were adult games that involved the Football club and these Dave Markillie managed to get Fenners to play on. The match was formalised by presenting the winning team with the Burden Trophy donated by his daughter. The Cricket Club won that year. The club entered an under 11 junior team into the Cambridgeshire league in 1995 with home games played at St Faiths or Latham Road ground. The team didn’t win a game the whole season but they persevered throughout.
In 1995, the new square had been laid although it was a poor year for the grass to grow and needed re-seeding, so all Saturday team games were still played at Duxford as the square was not ready for league games. The ball never got higher than ankle height throughout the season, which is not unusual when the square was new and the club did not have a decent roller. The official opening of the square was 11th June 1995, which should have been hot and sunny. Unfortunately it rained most of the morning and it was probably the coldest day of the Summer. Despite this, lots of club members and villagers turned out for the afternoon with the cricket development officer attending. The junior team fared much better in 1996 with wins in the league against Eversden and Sawston. It was the same year that most of the players were put into the Red Fox competition that was school based but used the club facilities. The team made it to the national finals at Edgbaston and it was the highlight of the year. Parents and youngsters all enjoyed a great day against strong opposition. Hardwick was knocked out in the first round losing to the eventual winners and last years runnerups.
In 1996, due to the generosity of the Parish Council the club purchased a heavy roller that improved the bounce on the pitch. The club was beginning to expand with more players being involved and a second adult team was considered for the following year. The 1st team progressed to division five that year. The 1st team won the league under the captaincy of Peter Laughlin and a new second team was also promoted.
In 1997, A second junior team was started and run by Peter Laughlin. The club was expanding and practice nets had been erected in the school grounds to train the juniors as well as providing practice for the older players. Peter Laughlin’s young players won the youth league that year and would go on to win almost every game in the following years. It was also the year that the Business House team won the league . They didn’t get their names on the winners shield though because the management structure of the business house league fell apart. It happened again the following year when they won the Business House Cup beating the Red Lion, Histon. The first team continued to be promoted each season until the league restructured in 1999, which pushed the team capabilities too far too fast. More junior players joined the club at this time and the league also restructured passing responsibility for all youth cricket to the Cambs Youth Cricket Association.
The next few years were trying to consolidate the club with ever increasing expenses on providing a quality wicket with associated facilities. A few key players dropped out of the first team and by late 1999 the club had faltered in its pursuit to get to the upper levels of the Cambridgeshire league. Young players were not being attracted to play in the lower divisions as were the more experienced players. In fact there were an appreciable number a villagers who played for other clubs rather than at Hardwick. More junior teams were introduced in the following years with Phil Wilson, and Iain Thompson providing the manager support. Phil’s team was very talented and followed very much in the footsteps of Pete Laughlin’s team winning most of the games and progressing through to the cup final several times. In 2001 there were six junior teams, which put a lot of pressure on the groundsmen to provide wickets for all the games that had to be played in the season. Barry Day and Peter Laughlin were both trained up as fully qualified groundsmen. The wicket kept on getting better with more than 200 runs being hit for each innings. Andrew Footman also appeared on the scene and ran a team whilst helping the other groundsmen with the wicket and outfield.
Cricket is expensive purely because of the constant maintenance of the ground and the equipment. It was during this period that the club had purchased various mowers, and scarifiers, with limited space to store it. The Pavilion was in the process of being restructured to have more area for the youth of the village. It stored kit all over the village. Eventually a small area was made available but this proved to be far too small for the equipment. A garage was planned for the equipment and was completed within a year. Even now the store is not big enough and future plans will take this into consideration.
The adult club had stalled for a couple of years in the CCA league where they didn’t make progress and lost more players to other clubs whilst the stalwarts grew older and less quick in the field. The future was with the juniors coming through but they hadn’t reached an age where they could make a difference. The club had been approached by several big clubs to consider merging, which was declined. In the end the club started negotiations with Shepreth with whom several players played in the mid week games. A new era was dawning for the club.
In Jan 2001 the Hardwick club agreed to a trial for two years to merge with Shepreth cricket club. Shepreth were in Senior Division One that had been the aim of Hardwick for some time. The new club was called Hardwick & Shepreth cricket club with all first team games played at Hardwick. The juniors continued to play under the Hardwick cricket club name as Shepreth cricket club juniors decided to remain separate. The under 15s won the league and the cup that year. The clubs fortunes improved by 2002 with the second team clinching their league title and the first team getting to their best position for many years.
In 2003, the Under 13s won their league title and the Under 15s made it to the final of the cup. The first team were runners up in the league, having beaten the title winners twice.