CRICKET is coming home in Garstang - returning to its original location after a 50 year ‘holiday’.
Cricket Club officials are preparing a new square for the third team to use between the pitches at Garstang Rugby Club’s Hudson Park, just over the embankment from the club’s first and second team pitches at the Riverside ground.
It will actually be a homecoming for cricket on the field, which was the cricket club’s original base before it switched to the Riverside in 1956.
And the connections don’t end there, as current cricket club committee member and sports and social club chairman Mick Richardson has been instrumental in negotiations to re-instate the square at Hudson Park - following in the footsteps of his father, Fred, who was a committee member and the club captain half a century ago and helped create the new squares at the Riverside.
The creation of a cricket pitch at the Riverside heralded a new hub for sport in Garstang, with first hockey and then football joining cricket as more of the land was turned over to sports pitches.
Mick said: “My dad was involved in the discussions when the club started to rent the field off Gerald Weardon.
“It was just grazing land then and the cricket club had to do all the work to make it it playable and prepare the pitch, which is exactly what we’re doing now on the rugby field.’’
Mick even remembers when, as a young boy, he helped his dad and other club members to carry the old pavilion, piece by piece, across the embankment - which still carried the railway line - to be re-erected at its new home at the Riverside.
According to the club’s minute book records from April 1956, the initial rent for the new pitch was agreed at £5 but after further negotiations that increased to £10 and ‘fences around the square would be removed to allow it to be grazed.’
The more recent decision to create the new square at Hudson Park was made to bring the third team back to Garstang and closer to the club’s base so that players can use the clubhouse and facilities. The third team have been renting the pitch at Guy’s Thatched Hamlet since 1997 for their games.
Mick explained: “It made sense to try to get the thirds closer and we’ve got an excellent relationship with the rugby club, so this was an ideal solution, especially as it feels like we’re bringing cricket ‘back home’.’’
Mick, along with former club chairman Charlie Collinson, head of ground committee Ian Walling and ECB registered groundsman Adam Cooper, started preparing the new square last week with specially sourced clay soil from Somerset, while the rougher edges of the rugby pitch that will form the new outfield will be levelled off with the help of 20 tonnes of soil.
Mick says they hope to be able to start using the new square by next August, when the ground will see its first game of cricket for more than 50 years.