BELTON CRICKET CLUB – a short history
In the mid 1960s the village of Belton underwent a rapid expansion as hundreds of new homes were built to accommodate the needs of the quickly growing population of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston. Wherever the English gather together cricket is played, and as the new inhabitants of the neighbourhood settled in, a small group formed the nucleus of Belton Cricket Club. It is believed a club had existed earlier in the 20th century but its activities ceased with the onset of the second world war.
The new club played its first game on Saturday 25 May 1968, a trip to Norwich for a friendly with Sprowston. The result was not particularly impressive – chasing Sprowston’s 198 for 8, Belton were bowled out for 84 – but three members of the team that day, namely Paul Knight, Trevor Meale and David Peppiatt, would go on to form the backbone of the club for the best part of the next quarter of a century.
The following week things got even worse! After being thumped to all parts of the ground by hosts Mattishall on their way to 257 for 8, Belton were dismissed for just 37. To this day this 220 run reverse remains the biggest margin of defeat in the club’s 38 year history.
On 21 July Belton travelled to Wortwell and rattled their hosts, bowling them out for just 44. Was this to be Belton’s first win? No! The visitors were skittled out for 20, a figure which remains Belton’s lowest ever total.
The newly formed club continued to struggle and lost the first eleven matches of its existence, until victory finally came in a midweek evening friendly against the Post Office. Indeed the season ended with a good run of only one defeat in the final six games.
Opponents in 1968 included several clubs still around today – Wortwell, Swanton Morley and Lowestoft Railway (who merged with Kirkley in 2006) – but also some long departed names, such as Cranes Freuhauf, Lothingland Hospital, Saxham, and Sunfield Caravan Camp, whose proprietor, Stan Sinfield, became a long time President of Belton CC. There was no proper cricket ground in the village, so home games were staged on the playing field adjacent to Breydon Middle School. The club continued in much the same vein in the 1969 season, but mention must be made of Rex Molland, who took the first ever hat trick for Belton (at Lowestoft Railway), and John Roberts, whose feat of taking all ten wickets at Wortwell for 25 runs gave him the club’s best ever bowling figures – a record which still stands today.
Bowling certainly appeared to be the club’s strength at that time. It wasn’t until August 1970 that G Mortimer became the first Belton batsman to score a 50.
Having continued to play friendlies throughout the early 1970s, in 1977 Belton entered league cricket for the first time when they joined the Great Yarmouth Midweek League, a forerunner of today’s 20/20 matches, with both teams limited to 15 eight ball overs. Regrettably no copies exist of the League table, but Belton won three, lost eight and tied one match, with two lost to rain.
With the existing programme of weekend friendlies maintained, the number of games undertaken by the club leapt from 18 in 1976 to 34 in 1977. The figures show that a hardcore of eight players appeared in over half of those matches. That season seven batsmen had double figure averages and three bowlers took over 35 wickets each. The lesson learned here is that the more you play the better you get!
In 1979 the club took another step forward by joining the newly formed fifth division of the Norfolk Cricket League. This meant formal league cricket matches every Saturday, with home games now generally played on Gorleston Rec. Inauspiciously, Belton finished bottom of the league.. In 1980, Belton came second from bottom and were relegated to the new Division Six, of which in 1981 Belton finished (you guessed) bottom. But because of a reorganisation of cricket in the county, Belton ended up back in Division Five at the start of the 1982 season.
Local interest in the club continued to grow during the early 1980s, and three of the club’s most successful players – Mark Jackson, Gerald Jackson and Neil Lambert – joined in this period.
Progress in the League was steady, but it was to be in the Sunday Cup competitions that Belton met with most success in this decade. In 1985 Belton reached the final of the CTS Trophy beating some stiff competition on the way. Going into the game as underdogs against Rollesby of Division Two, Belton confounded the form book by pulling off a comfortable win – the club’s first piece of silverware.
The feat was so nearly repeated three years later, when Belton lost, again as second favourites, to Old Catton.
During the winter months the club entered the Beccles Indoor League for a number of years and in 1989 won the KO Plate.
By the end of the 1980s home games were usually played on Southtown Common, and form in the Norfolk League had become very consistent. Belton always finished in the top five from 1983 onwards, but never quite made promotion. Until 1990.
It was in the nineties that Belton started to fulfil all the promise of the previous decade. In 1990 some terrific performances, including a huge 352 for 8 against CEYMS, helped Belton finish runners up in Division Five. Then, just three years later, the club finished runners up in Division Four.
There was even better to come in 1995 when Belton won all their league matches apart from the two against Halvergate. A thumping total of 387 for 9 against Shipdham (including the club record score of 176 by Kevin Barnes) saw the team on their way to becoming Division Three Champions. In 1996 it was the turn of the Sunday team to shine, reaching the final of the Norfolk League Plate, where they lost to Ashmanhaugh.
Division Two proved to be a bridge too far and after two seasons Belton slipped down to Division Three, and in 1999 only escaped relegation to Division Four because of withdrawals from higher up the league. 2002 turned into the club’s most successful ever, going through the entire league season without losing a match, to be crowned Champions of Division Three. Most memorably, Chris Cropley and Gerry Jackson set a new club record partnership of 296 when playing against Happisburgh on Southtown Common, scoring 151 not out and 135 not out respectively.
On Sundays, the emphasis has turned from friendlies and cups to league cricket, with Belton joining the Burgess Shield which then amalgamated in 2003 into the Mid Norfolk Sunday League.
The club has also been keen to host matches against touring sides, with Nottingham Magpies and a team from the village of Belton in Leicestershire making annual visits.
Belton also held the distinction of becoming one of the first clubs in the county to have its own website, news and information having been available to surfers since the mid 90s. The site also gives examples of the warped sense of humour that develops among club members, and contains lists of entrants for our yearly “Quote of the Season” competition for the unintentionally funny, the wittiest put-down, or simply plain daft remarks. All of this comes courtesy of our webmaster, chairman and secretary, Malcolm Kauffman, and can be viewed at www.beltoncricket.co.uk.
In addition the club holds an annual barbeque and awards night, quizzes and golf days.
In 2005 Belton finished fifth in Division 3 of the Norfolk League and fourth in the Peter Parfitt Division 3 of the Mid Norfolk Sunday League, and is aiming to sample more success before its 40th birthday in two years’ time.
Russell Bird June 2006
In 2013 Belton finally reached the pinnacle of Norfolk League Cricket by winning Division Two and securing top-flight status for the first time in he club’s 45 year history.
Belton’s Progress Through the Years
Year Division Position Wins Average Promoted/Relegated
1979 5 10th/10 3 7.13 Relegation not possible
1980 5 9th/10 3 7.08 Relegated to Division 6
1981 6 10th/10 4 7.94 “Promoted” after restructuring
1982 5 8th/10 5 9.13
1983 5 5th/10 9 12.75
1984 5 4th/10 9 12.50
1985 5 4th/10 10 12.67
1986 5 4th/10 9 12.93
1987 5 5th/10 7 12.00
1988 5 3rd/10 10 13.40
1989 5 4th/10 7 10.44
1990 5 2nd/10 13 15.39 Promoted as Runners-Up
1991 4 6th/10 8 11.18
1992 4 4th/10 9 12.93
1993 4 2nd/10 13 14.61 Promoted as Runners-Up
1994 3 4th/10 9 13.79
1995 3 1st/10 15 17.41 Promoted as Champions
1996 2 8th/10 5 10.27
1997 2 9th/10 5 8.81 Relegated to Division 3
1998 3 6th/10 6 10.63
1999 3 9th/10 4 9.68 No relegation – restructuring
2000 3 4th/10 10 15.53
2001 3 3rd/10 10 16.69
2002 3 1st/10 16 20.00 Promoted as Champions
2003 2 8th/10 5 9.31 “Relegated” – restructuring
2004 3 3rd/10 8 15.82
2005 3 4th/10 8 14.00
2006 3 5th/10 8 16.54
2007 3 7th/10 5 12.86
2013 2 1st/10 2 19.44 Promoted as Champions