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KIBWORTH CRICKET CLUB - The 20th century

Kibworth CC entered the 20th century able to call on the services of one of the notable Leicestershire cricketing families, the Marriott's. Five sons of the reknown surgeon C.H. Marriott played for the club with Charles B. Marriott captaining the club for 15 years from 1895-1910. The youngest brother Henry H. Marriott gained a blue at Cambridge and played 87 first class matches, he was also reputed to have invented the 'gully' fielding postion.

Four years after Charles gave up the captaincy another man who would prove a stalwart for many years Cecil 'Cis' Berry made his debut. He would play for the club man and boy into the 1950's.

Once the great war was over, KCC came back to life and both first and second teams were fielded regularly each weekend. The club had over 50 vice-presidents including well known local names such as the Marriot family, J. E. Elliott, who was to become a very popular and respected Headmaster of the local Grammer school, Brigadier Jack and R.G. Watson. The administration of the club still revolved around the secretary Frank J Loveday, who had held the position since 1885, and T Harry Lewis. The headquarters, for business purposes, was The Royal Oak on the High Street, a base the club was to use successfully for a great many years. Problems did occur of course and there was a crisis over the state of repair of the pavilion before the 1935 season that necessitated the calling of a special meeting. When all the tenders for the work proved to be too expensive the members carried out the work themselves. There was a constant need to raise funds and events such as Whist drives, dances, and prize draws feature in almost all committee minutes.

Frank Loveday would eventually hold the Secretary position for 50 years and he deserves much of the credit for the fact that by the mid 1930's the club was well established in Leicestershire cricketing circles. In recognition of his outstanding service a special dinner was held and an illuminated address presented to him. Frank would continue his association with the club until his death in 1941 but his job as secretary would pass to A S 'Stan' Bolton in 1938 and remain in his hands for most of the next 40 years. In 1939 E W 'Eddie' Welton took the role of chairman to begin a long period when the two men were principally responsable for the management of the club. Eddie was also captain of the 1st XI from 1932 to 1949 and was recognised as one of the best bowlers in local cricket.

Kibworth Bowls club was established in 1926 by a group of non-playing members of the Cricket Club, including George Gamble, Jack Bowns, Harry, Tom and Vic Illiffe and Theodore Adkinson. George Matock, a local farmer and owner of the land, gave permission for the top court of the defunct tennis club in the corner of the cricket field to be used and a neighbourly relationship that would last until the Bowls club moved in 2004 began.

Transport to cricket matches necessitated the hire of transport and notes from 1937 indicate' a guarantee to Mr Nibloe that 12 members would travel  by his bus to all away matches' was given.The need for improved ammenaties was also apparent and in 1938 a water supply was provided to the ground. There were other problems concerning members as a minute from 1938 shows: 'Owing to the inconvenience caused when fetching balls sent over the hedge into Mr Evans' poultry pens by the presence of barbed wire....it was suggested putting up a netting gate which could be replaced and locked up after the practice and matches.'

Around this time a second club existed in the village. Named 'Kibworth Tradesmen' they played their games on a pitch two fields away from the Kibworth ground and occassional games were played between the two clubs before the tradesmen folded in the late 1950's.

During the Great War, cricket had ceased but this was not the case during WWII with matches continuing to take place throughout the war years. Most matches were played at Kibworth with the away games being restricted to the Leicester area because of transport problems. The club lost another of its stalwart members within a few months of Frank Loveday when T H Lewis passed away, another man who had been a member of the club in various capacities for close on 50 years.

Full fixtures were arranged again for the 1947 season but a further sad note occured the following year with the retirement of  Alf Smith who had been the 1st XI umpire for the previous 20 years. At the same time Mrs Clark, having reached her retirement age reluctantly gave up her responsibilities for the clubs catering. The ground continued to develop with a brick tea room being built at a cost of £257 in 1949 and extended to provide kitchen facilities in 1956. These improvements has enhanced the reputation of the club and it was therefore a shattering blow for the club to learn in January 1951 that the ground had been sold. Intensive negotiations with the new owners followed and interest free loans were raised from members so that at a meeting on 27th February it could be agreed to buy the ground. This far sighted purchase was completed the following year and helped set the club on a path to a secure future. The much loved old pavilion was finally abandoned in 1969 for a new structure linked to the existing tea room and its timbers used to construct an equipment shed on the corner of the ground.

For many years the links between the club and Kibworth Grammer school had been close, the clubs badge derives from the two lions of the KBGS shield, and the school had provided a regular source of young talented players. However in the mid 1964 the school moved to a new site in Oadby and became known as Beauchamp Grammer School with the site in the village becoming a new home for the Hanbury Secondary Modern school from Church Langton which was renamed as Kibworth High School. The result was a  fall in the playing standards of KCC as the dearth of promising local players combined with a lack of good class players willing to join from other clubs. Many of the strongest traditional opponents embraced league cricket with the formation of the Central League in 1968 and Kibworth fixture list began to weaken as a result. In 1965, despite opposition from the more senior members, Sunday fixtures were introduced for the first time. Former secretary Len Sturgess believes that the club had lost touch with the village community at this point surviving instead on a supply of 'gentlemen cricketers' through the Grammer school system, The introduction of the annual six-a side competition was an attempt to address this issue and restore links. Len recollects that attempts by the local boys to play games on the outfield in the week would result in Cyril Illiffe appearing from the Johnson & Barnes factory on the corner of Dover Street to clear them off.

The annual dinner until the mid 1960's was held at the Kibworth band hut and was organised by the male club members who also prepared and served the meal as a thanks for the work the ladies had done over the season in preparing the teas. The only work that the ladies were asked to do was the washing and cleaning the next day. After the meal and speeches made by the Chairman and Captain there would be 'games' to play, some of them quite energetic. A version of  hockey and relay games are amongst those recalled by members who were present. Chairman Eddie Welton would also regularly entertain with songs from Gilbert and Sullivan.
Later in the decade the dinner was moved to various hotels, the Angel at Market Harborough (where the tea ladies were presented with brooches), the Lodge Hotel at Kibworth and later public houses at Billesdon and Hallaton.

The club finally joined a league in 1974 when they were founders of the Leicestershire Club Cricket league and celebrated a centenary of cricket on the Fleckney Road with a game against Leicestershire CCC in 1984.