Haverhill Midweek T20 Cricket League turns 50 with celebration and legends match
The Adams Harrison Haverhill and District Midweek Cricket League is turning 50, making it one of the oldest Twenty20 leagues in the world.
Players past and present, alongside former and current league organisers, will come together at Haverhill Cricket Club’s Manor Road ground on Sunday (September 1) for a celebration and legends match (12.30pm).
The league’s most famous graduate is Essex and England batsman Tom Westley, who competed for boyhood club Weston Colville as a teenager.
He even made his way into the league’s record books, crowned Player of the Match as Weston Colville claimed the Adams Harrison Cup in 2005.
Dad Ade Westley, a former Colville player who now plays for Foxton in the midweek league, said the family, who are still heavily involved in cricket in the area, will try to make it.
“It’s a great league and 50 years is a great achievement, it’s always been a good league, competitive and good cricket,” he said.
“Tom and I, as well as my brother Trevor, have all played in finals in the league and we have some great memories – it’s great for younger players to find their feet in the adult game too.
“It’s a brilliant way into the game, I hope the league has another 50 years life in it and more.”
League secretary Colin Godsmark said he hopes to see as many of the past and current players as possible, as well as anyone with happy memories of matches.
The league was set-up in 1970 for factory and club teams in its current format – twenty, six ball overs per innings – predating the official release of T20 cricket by more than 30 years.
“It’s great to see how far its all come in that 50 years,” Godsmark, who has been secretary of the league for 36 years, said. “From a factory league to a league for the whole town.
“It’s fantastic to reach this milestone, and it’s credit to the founders, players and organisers that its still going strong.
“We have led the way on how to survive, having been sponsored for most of the league’s life, and its as strong as ever again – it had a dip but we’ve had clubs come back.
“It has moved with the times, and was even ahead of them, we were playing a shorter format of the game long before others.
“It’s both a social and a competitive league, and it’s absolutely right to take a moment to celebrate 50 years of midweek cricket in Haverhill.
“It should be a great day and great to see so many players from back in the day.”
Greg Street, vice chairman of host club Haverhill, said he had been playing in the league for ‘the better part of 40 years’.
He said: “It’s brilliant for local cricket, I was 10 years old when I made my first appearance, that’s the better part of 40 years now.
“It’s probably one of the oldest T20 leagues in the world too, it’s definitely been massive for the local game in the area.
“It’s helped to create a cricket community in the town and maintain social ties and, more recently, it’s helped to keep the game alive locally.
“So it’s important to take the time to celebrate all that.
“There will be a legends game and the bars will be open, it’s all about a celebration. I think we’ll even have some people there on Sunday that possibly played in the first ever season – I hope we do.
“And we would love for Tom Westley to come down, if he can of course, I remember playing against him and Weston Colville when he was about 13 or so, in the league, and thinking ‘this kid is going to be good’, he hit the ball so casually but so hard!
“It would be great to see him, the family, and everyone.”
Echo editor at the time, Jim Healey, was a founder member – and chairman for 25 years – and a shield was donated by the paper for the winners. That same Echo shield is still presented to the Division One champions to this day.
Surrounding village clubs started to enter in 1971, when it was still one division, but it soon expanded to two divisions in 1978.
Due to a rapid increase in popularity a third was added in 1979 this stayed until 2006 when the third division was split into two regions due to the large numbers of colt cricketers playing as well as a further increase in teams.
The first knockout cup competition was introduced in 1978, the RA Cup was donated by local firm Refrigerated Appliances. Since 2003 it has been known as the League Cup.
That same year, the AH Cup was introduced by new sponsors Adams Harrison, who remain the current patrons.
In 1986 the league secured its first sponsorship deal with Provincial Insurance thanks to the President Peter Smith and, in 1988, changed its name to incorporate the sponsor’s name. After merging, the league became the AXA Midweek Cricket League through former President Alan Bishop. It became the Adams Harrison Midweek Cricket League in 2003.