I Don’t Like Cricket… I Love It!

'There But Not There' Tommie
‘There But Not There’ Tommie at the cricket game

I don’t like cricket – I love it!

Well, that’s not exactly true but I certainly like it a lot more than I thought I would! One of the events held by the Forget Never – Sacrifice and Legacy Project this year was a commemorative cricket match held at Wickford Cricket Club to remember all those players from Wickford who fought in the First World War – many of whom did not return. I really enjoyed watching and photographing the action. And there was definitely plenty of action, such as the six, hit by one of the players which smashed into the club house window a few feet from where I was standing!

Members' Roll of Honour 1919
Members’ Roll of Honour 1919

From the members’ roll of honour 1919, we know who paid their Wickford Cricket Club subs, who came back and who never returned.  As part of the Forget Never Project, we honoured a former captain of the club, PC George Burnett in a World War One play entitled ‘The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’. We have also honoured Richard Bartlett for whom we held a commemorative cricket match in 2016. Both men died during the fighting. Lance Corporal George Burnett went missing in action shortly after the beginning of the war in 1914, and he was considered killed in action, a year later. His body was never found but he is remembered on the Menin Gate. Richard Bartlett died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Lance Corporal George Burnett's name on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium
Lance Corporal George Burnett’s name on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

The Forget Never Project managed to contact descendants of George Burnett who joined us in our performances of ‘The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’ in England and in France as well as relatives of Richard Bartlett, who still live near Wickford and were able to join us for his commemorative match as well as for the matches played on Friday 17th August 2018.

There were two matches on 17th August – the first for the junior players – Wickford vs Billericay and then the senior match between Wickford XI and a team representing the Forget Never Project consisting of Basildon celebrities, including Brinn Bevan, Olympic gymnast and 2018 British Championships All-Around Champion. Brinn presented the trophies to the players in the junior match, as well as playing in the senior game, after a bit of coaching from one of the younger cricket players!

Brinn Bevan practising cricket
Brinn Bevan practising cricket

Other celebrity players were:

Captain –Ken Porter-Chairman of Basildon Heritage Group and author. Former player with Ilford CC and Southend CC

Chris Spooner – Local businessman, former player for Benfleet CC and has managed juniors at Wickford CC

Alex Spooner – 2013 International Junior ‘ Superstar’ Former Bromfords Schoolboy now a rising Motorcycle talent having just been offered a contract at Kent Kings.

Rob Newson AKA James Wand – Local magician performing at celebrity wedding receptions. Former player with Pitsea and Vange CC and Ingatestone CC

Martin Leslie – Head of PE at Beauchamps School in Wickford. Plays currently for Stanford Le Hope CC

Tony Ball – Cty Councillor for Wickford, Deputy Cabinet post holder for Education and Skills. Former player at Laindon CC.

Steve Newman – Chairman of Wickford Memorial Association. Member of an International group dedicated to finding soldiers missing in action.

Wayne Morgan – Former employee at the Tractor Plant. Plays for Basildon and Essex Over 50’s CC.

Matt Spencely – Works currently for Creative Sports based at Wat Tyler Park. Plays for Old Southendians

Brinn Bevan – Member of Team GB Gymnastics team at the Rio Olympic Games. Currently the reigning British All Round Gymnastic Champion.

Kyran Porter and Callum Porter who stood in for players who were unable to attend. Both are Ken Porter’s grandsons.

Mayor of Basildon, Councillor David Dadds, presented the trophies to all the senior players.

Mayor of Basildon, Tony Ball, Brinn Bevan and Martin Leslie
Mayor of Basildon, Tony Ball, Brinn Bevan and Martin Leslie

After the cricket, Magic Circle Magician, James Wand did some amazing magic tricks for the crowd.

Magician James Wand amazing the crowd and Brinn with his tricks
Magician James Wand amazing the crowd and Brinn with his tricks
Junior teams - Wickford and Billericay
Junior teams – Wickford and Billericay
Senior teams - Wickford XI and Basildon Celebrities
Senior teams – Wickford XI and Basildon Celebrities

I still don’t really know how the scoring works, but I understand the winner of the junior match was Billericay and of the senior match was Wickford although everyone was presented a trophy – winners and losers alike. The event wasn’t so much about winning but about remembering.

If you’d like to see all the photos of the matches, click here 

If you want to find out more about the Forget Never – Sacrifice and Legacy Project, click here