Bridgford Fields

During the mid-nineties, I lived in West Bridgford with my ex-wife and two young children.

My son Matt was always cricket crazy, taking after his Dad and for a bit of fun, from about 4 years old, I used to run a cricket session for him and his mates from the local Primary School on Bridgford Fields on Friday evenings. It became so popular in the end, that well over 20 kids used to turn up.

Anyhow, one day, the parents wanted to do something special for me to express their thanks. I had a better idea, mind, because I didn’t want any thanks for doing what I enjoyed. In the news at the time was the terrible plight of kids in the Romanian orphanages, which I believe came to light after the fall of the iron curtain.

So, I asked Nottinghamshire C.C.C. if the kids might be allowed to play one evening on the outfield at Trent Bridge with a view to each parent sponsoring their children for every run scored and wicket taken. The club very kindly agreed, and I remember the very excited kids playing one lovely evening after the close of a county match. We raised a princely sum for the orphanages.

Furthermore, Derek Randall, who ran a dried flower business at the time in Edward Road, where we lived, also kindly agreed to play cricket with the kids for an hour in the indoor cricket school. He was absolutely hilarious, clowning around with the children as you can probably well imagine, and the kids had a fantastic time.

Anyhow, also very supportive was the Nottingham Evening Post who did a piece on the event, complete with a picture of my 5-year-old son Matt sitting on Derek Randall’s lap surrounded by the other children. I can’t recall exactly but I think it might have featured in the special local events section rather than in the sports pages.

In 1997, we moved to Cornwall where Matt continued to play cricket and represented Cornwall Schools through the age groups. I became Chairman of a local cricket club in Cornwall where we used to have an overseas player from New Zealand every year. After the Christchurch earthquake in 2008, we put on a very successful charitable event to help a large family club called Heathcote rebuild their ground which had been decimated by the quake.

They incredulously managed to raise 300,000 New Zealand dollars to restore their ground following an appeal from Sir Richard Hadlee, (much loved Notts CCC legend of course) and Matt jumped at the opportunity of an invite to play a season for the Heathcote club. He had a return ticket, but he fell so much in love with the cricket club, Christchurch and New Zealand that he never came back!

His cricket flourished as an opening batsman and in his second season at Heathcote, he was awarded Canterbury player of the year. More importantly, however, he never forgot those beginnings on Bridgford Fields and became a well-qualified cricket coach, heading their junior section and building it up to some 70 strong!

*Article provided by Andy House.

*Main image @TrentBridge Derek Randall ‘clowning around’ at Trent Bridge.

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