Centenary Committee
The Early Years
Turn of the Century
Between the Wars 1921-1939
The Middle Years
League Cricket
1975 Onwards
League Players
The Next Century

The Grass Roots
The First 100 Years
Our Own Ground and it's Amenities
Our Life Members
The Club Game
From Nairobi to Nottingham
West Country Tours
Youth Cricket
And Don't Forget the Groundsman

Pelsall Cricket & Sports Club
by ARTHUR BARTON (Life Member)

Since our debut into club cricket in the year 1885 we have been based on a number of cricket grounds within the Pelsall precincts and for 60 years this position prevailed until 1945. It was in that year that the club was able to achieve its ambition of having a home and headquarters that they could call their own.

We were leasing the Bush Field at the time when the adjacent meadow came up for sale. It's owner, Mr. Frank Hughes, who resided nearby at 'The Olives', offered the meadow for sale, the asking price being £780.00 Freehold.

The committee of the day showed great foresight and decided that the club purchase the ground. The purchase proceedings were put in the very capable hands of the three Trustees, Messrs. Martin Chart, David Wright and Wilf Davis. These Three Wise Men must go down in the annals of our club for their efforts at this time and all club members should feel indebted to them.

With a balance sheet showing some £150.00 in hand it was to two ladies that the Trustees turned. Our ladies could always, as now, be relied upon to assist. Eveline Winifred Wilkes and Mabel Turner offered the club £300.00 each with a 4% per annum interest (those were the days). Armed with £600 plus £100 from club funds. a further effort was made to raise the outstanding £80. There is no record of how this was achieved, but one can imagine that Jumble Sales. Whist Drives, donations, etc., were the order of the day. Consequently on 11th November, 1945, the three Trustees completed the purchase of the Freehold of our 51 acre ground. PeIsa!l had come home to roost.

Whilst we continued to play our matches on the Bush Field, strenuous efforts were made in the newly acquired meadow. ploughing, mowing, laying the square, plus the host of jobs that go with making a ground playable for the first time, and in the season of 1947 our first match was played.

In 1948 we were firmly established on the ground. The pavilion had been moved from the Bush Field and re-erected in position. This pavilion became known with affection as the 'Old Hut', a name which still prevails today when it is referred to. It had a tin roof. wooden walls and steel windows. A cast-iron bogey stove, with a pipe going through the roof, stood in the centre of the main room. It glowed like a furnace and many is the time that a member has had his coat or trousers singed by standing too close.

It was becoming apparent that we needed to change our image somewhat and so it was decided that our title of Pelsall Cricket Club should be replaced by our present title of Pelsall Cricket & Sports Club. By doing this we hoped that we could attract more members, both playing and social. In the same period it was decided that Sunday cricket would be allowed, which was a good decision and in the main was accepted.

These circumstances prevailed until 1951 when we applied for a licence to sell beer and spirits. Previous to this we could only offer our visitors an odd bottle of beer purchased from the Bush Inn, to drink after each match. Not a very good way to entertain by any standards. Coupled with this was the ever growing expenses, with only match fees. raffles. tea profits, whist drives, etc., to keep the club and equipment going. Having opened the bar we were at last able to afford our visitors the kind of hospitality they deserved. Many the hectic night followed the matches with such teams as Barton-under-Needwood, Alrewas, Bersham, Wolverhampton Tech, Aliens Cross. Yoxall, Madeley, Rushall, so many one could go on and on. To see the schooner races was an eyeopener believe me.

In the early fifties we became a Multi-sports Club, with cricket on Saturdays, Sundays, Mid-week and football teams in the Staffs. County League, Btoxwich Combination and Walsall Amateur League. A little later followed the laying of a hard tennis court. All this attracted good support from the playing angle, but like everything else, if you expand your expenses increase also, Cricket and football equipment, looking after the ground all year round proved very costly and although the introduction of a fruit machine did go some way to help the situation, we were struggling financially. Our teams were marvellous. excellent in fact, but the fact remained we had to find ways and means of being highly solvent. We managed to build another dressing room and bar on to the Old Hut thus making the club a little more comfortable for members. but then in the advent of the fruit machine and bar, we attracted the vandals and thieves, so much so that after a while we were too bad a risk for any Insurance Company to take on and almost every week we were broken into and needless to say our finances suffered once again.

In 1962 proposals were put forward for plans to be drawn up for a new pavilion. Being Secretary at the lime and having connections in the building trade, I was able to get the plans drawn up free of charge and duly presented to the members for their comments. It was agreed that we should go ahead and build. Once again finance. or lack of it, became a problem. Fortunately my predecessor, Alan Barton (no relation) had enquired from local bodies about grants and armed with the replies received I set about applying for grants from the National Playing Fields Association, Stafford County. Walsall and Aldridge Councils, Education Departments and our friends the Midland Cricket Club Conference committee. All my actions were backed to the hilt by Tom Morgan, Ron Perry, John Maund, Benny Guest. Len Hayward, Amos Breeze, Peter Biddlestone, Jimmy Jones, Bill Clayton, Jack Lloyd, to name but a few. It took over a year to raise the required money from various grant associations. Plans had to be modified and passed at Council level, but at long last we were in a position to put in the first spade. We had during this time started a building fund which was strictly that. All in all we had raised over £6,000. The committee gave me a free hand in the control of the building of the new clubhouse. and I was very ably assisted by Peter Biddlestone. We look back these days and feel very privileged to have been able to contribute, not forgetting our wives who never saw us at weekends for 18 months. At last the pavilion was completed, and on 19th June, 1965, the MCCC sent an eleven to play us and the club was duly opened by Mr. Bill Harrison, Chairman of Walsall Football Club. He also gave a handsome donation to the club.

At this time very few clubs had anything like our clubhouse which consisted of main bar. kitchen, dressing rooms. showers. full central heating. and our membership increased as did the bar takings, double the first year and increasing every year.However, this was still not enough. We had a main clubroom only and it was decided that we build a lounge in order to give our members a choice when visiting the club. In 1969 we opened the new lounge. Another major item achieved for around £2,000. Having this extra room did bring in more members. Crib and domino teams were entered in leagues, and at a later date we sported a number of dart teams who played three times a week in the 1970 Balance Sheet we showed over £6.000 takings on the bar. As previously stated, our membership grew rapidly and in order to keep them happy we required somewhere to put on entertainment and so it was once again a matter of building. On 10th July, 1973. the go ahead was given by the committee for the building of our concert room. a new foyer and a refurbishment of the bar area. By subcontracting most of the work we were able to achieve our aims for around £8.000 against an approximate figure from a builder of £17,000. Once again Peter and myself were highly involved, but we had very welcome assistance from R. Hudson. M. Wigfield, B. Stringer, P. Thompson. These members formed the basis of the building committee.

All went as planned and the room was officially opened on 1st November. 1974, with a great show put on by Bill Gore. Our takings had by this time increased to £13,000 per year. There remained at this time, one further project to complete, this being the building of a toilet block and enlarging the cellar. Our toilets were at this time too tar away from the main rooms and the cellar had become too small to cater for our increased needs. Once again in 1976 these items were accomplished. We have over the past two or three years virtually refurbished the whole of the interior of the club, carpeted floors in all rooms, tiled walls and floors in kitchen, bar, toilets, dressing rooms. panelled walls and installed pretty lights and spotlights in the main room. these being very pleasant when we have our functions. Takings have now reached around £48.000.

To move on to the progress outside of the club, in the sporting arena much has been done to improve the general outlook. All our sporting sections are self supporting from cricket, football, ladies committee. darts, dominoes and crib and they all work extremely hard for the club as well as themselves, and in doing so relieve the parent club of much financial burden. To the cricketers falls the greatest expense. Pre-season this year work on the square, outfield and equipment, plus the purchase of new gear. cost hundreds of pounds. Our football teams plus Crabtree FC pay a levy which is ploughed back into the upkeep of the pitches.
We did in late December 1984 (we being the Centenary Committee) purchase 200 conifer trees to form a screen at one end of the ground. The club had already had a great deal of fencing formed up in other parts of the ground and now that a number of aged persons flats are being built adjacent to the outfield, this should provide a very pleasant outlook in a few years time. We have also reclaimed the rough ground comprising of about an acre and seeded it, the cricket working parties being responsible for the work carried out.

As far as has been possible, I have mentioned members who come to mind for various achievements over the years, but I would convey to all members the wishes of your committee of 1985. Messrs. M. Wigfield, R. Hudson, P. Biddlestone, B. Dawes, A. Gough. T. Morgan, H. Cartwright, L. Bennett. K. Addis, A. Fletcher, D. Evans. D. Poyser, J. Perry, B. Dolphin and myself. Support your sporting and family club, we can only progress with your support.

To conclude. it must now be obvious that a great deal of finance has been required to fund all the buildings, etc., over the last few years, notwithstanding the grant money. We are deeply indebted to our ladies (God bless them) both past and present. they have contributed so much in their time. To the members who use the club all the year round and contribute to raffles, totes. '100 Club', bingo, etc., their contributions are channelled back in the form of entertainment, children's party and last but by no means least, putting something on each year for our Senior Citizens. All the money raising items would not be possible without the weekly duty roster which is carried out by every committee man from the President down. All these monies plus a Goldliner Fund are banked in a Building Fund which is administered by our Social Secretary, Horace Cartwright.

To Birds Brewery who in the early days gave us months of credit when things were tough, supplied free of charge all the 12 tables and 72 chairs brand new when the new club was opened. Many thanks, Norman.

To Ansells for the loan a few years ago at a mere 5%.

To Banks's Brewery, M & B Brewery, Whittalls Wines, all having donated in either cash or kind.

To the ever present support given by our good neighbours PeIsall Villa. our own club football teams, Crabtree's Sports Section, Sunday Football, Darts. Dominoes and Crib.

Finally. our Cricket Teams. without whom we would not have been here in the first place.

A POSSE AD ESSE (From the possible to the actual).



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