Seaside club celebrating a half-century of success

A club formed to provide cricket for all is set to celebrate a memorable half century.

The progress has delighted Happisburgh CC stalwart Ian Ritchie who is looking forward to a milestone 50th anniversary match later this month.

The north Norfolk outfit will roll back the years when his President's XI entertain a club XI at the Beach Road ground on Sunday, August 14 (11am start).

'There will be a bar and barbecue in the afternoon, which we hope old players and friends made over the time will come along to and help us celebrate,'said Ian, who was captain when Happisburgh entered the Norfolk League in 1976, and held the post for 22 years.

Along with Rollesby and Eaton, Happisburgh are the longest-serving club in the Norfolk League, which is celebrating its own 40th anniversary this season.

Ian said his on-pitch highlight had been getting promoted to Division Two but the overall growth of the club was one of the most satisfying things.

'From a small beginning the club has made great strides in trying to keep village cricket available to anyone who loves the game played as it was meant.

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'Our aim has always been to give everybody a fair crack of the whip.

'People who didn't get a game on the Saturday were given a game on the Sunday. People who would not normally have got a game were given the chance to play cricket. It didn't matter how good a player you were if it was your turn to stand down you stood down,' said Ian, who played in the very first game as a side of Happisburgh footballers and others took on a team from the Lessingham Star pub.

He added: 'We have had our ups and downs over the years but the club spirit has always been strong – the club has always hung together.

'When I was captain I said it was my ambition when I retired to see Happisburgh CC still going. I didn't want to see the club disintegrate. But it has gone better than that. With our juniors we must have over 40 players now.'

The club fields Norfolk League teams in Division Two and Division Seven and also a Sunday friendly team as well as Under 13 and Under 11 junior teams. It has been awarded ECB Clubmark Status in recognition of the standards it has reached.

There are five qualified coaches with Wayne Catchpole, Robert Breeze, Jason Langford, David Trivett and Carl Allen all helping to develop young talent.

Ian's step-brothers, the Trivett twins Michael and Robin were also involved in the first game and are still playing at the age of 70.

They were recognised when they received the Keith Peel Service to Sport trophy at the Eastern Daily Press Active Norfolk awards last year.

Other founder players still on the scene are John Weddall, a Stalham Secondary Modern School teacher who was the team's first captain and is a regular spectator at matches, while Geoffrey Hales can be found operating the gang mower as he cuts the outfield. 'I think Robin Trivett has probably taken more wickets than anybody else as he has been going for so long,' said Ian adding: 'The first man to get things going from the beginning was Eric Couzens who had many contacts through his involvement in the football around the area.'

Master batsman Ivan Andrews (57) first began playing for the club when he was 12 and the cultured left-hander is still going strong after 45 years of service. During that period he has amassed 45 centuries, some 36000 runs and is one of only three players to score over 1,000 runs in a Norfolk League season – a feat he achieved in 1982.

His brother Stephen (55), is still playing having had a hip operation and is one of the leading wicket-takers of all time. The first player to score a century for the club was Ian 'Inky' Baker in a Sunday game against the Defiants at Gilman Road, Norwich.