Mid Norfolk Sunday Cricket League History

History of the Mid-Norfolk Sunday Cricket League

The actual origins of the League are more anecdotal than verifiable. What is clear is that there was a meeting held at the King’s Head public house in North Elmham in early 1898 where the cricket league was brought into being. The story goes that three leading local landowning families were present, presumably the Birkbecks, the Gurneys and possibly the Dons. Also present was the newly installed vicar of North Elmham, Revd Ernest H Townsend.
Half-day working on a Saturday had been recently introduced and employers were concerned about what their farm labourers would get up to in their newly acquired leisure time. Competitive cricket between local estates and villages seemed an obvious solution.
Then, in 1904, came the Mid Norfolk Village Challenge competition, initiated by the Revd Marshall of Mileham who had been concerned that teams tended not to play the game in a way that fostered its development. In particular, he disapproved of the way in which clubs recruited players simply to win games. He was keen to encourage the labouring men of the villages to play the game and to make their lives “a little more interesting”.
He therefore helped to establish a League based on geographical lines, with the competing sides made up of exclusively bona fide residents of the village, although smaller villages were allowed to amalgamate.
The divisional winners then competed on a knock out basis for a Shield that was paid for by local subscriptions and held by the County Club as its trustees. This is the same Shield that is competed for today in our top division.
In that first year, eleven teams took part and the eventual winners were Great Ryburgh.
It was also agreed that the competing clubs should provide umpires to stand in matches in which their club was not competing.
In 1911, William Lewis Boyle, the Liberal Unionist MP for the Mid Norfolk Constituency presented the League with the Boyle Cup. The winners that year were Brisley.
William Lewis Boyle’s maternal grandfather, General Sir Lorenzo Moore CB fought and won a duel on Wimbledon Common on 13th February 1832. His opponent, Miles Stapleton, who later became Lord Beaumont, was wounded but recovered and did not pursue the matter any further. The General was arrested and confined at Kingston. He was released against a recognisance of £4,000 provided by a friend, John Gideon Millingen.
The First World War brought a premature end to the 1914 season when North Elmham won the Shield. The League ceased to operate until 1920 when the Shield winners were Mileham.
The inter-war years saw fierce competition although the concept of a competitive cricket league was highly unfashionable. The purists felt that the game should be played on a friendly basis with all results possible: win, lose and draw.
The Shield was won in 1939 by Necton but the Second World War interrupted the League again. Scarning won the Shield on its reinstatement in 1946.
In 1951, Major-General Robert Broke presented the Broke Cup to the League as a trophy for a 20 over competition. Broke, a keen cricket lover, distinguished himself on 20th May 1940 in Abbeville in France where he won the Military Cross. His citation praised his “coolness, daring and great devotion to duty” and declared that “the lucidity of the information which he brought in on each occasion was invaluable.” He also saw action at El Alamein, Sudan and Tunisia.
He died in January 2002 aged 88 and his memorial service was held at Holme Hale.
In 1978, the League, whose President and Chairman was George Marsh, Managing Director of Seamans Animal Feeds in North Elmham, was presented with the Challenge Cup as a trophy for a knock out competition. That year it was won by Marham. The Secretary of the League, at that time, was Stanley Page, who lived at Bilney.
A few years later, Bob Bidewell, who farmed in North Elmham, took over as President with Frank Haverson as his Chairman. These two had played most of their cricketing lives in the League.
This was a time of change in Norfolk cricket and it was Frank who saw the future of the League as a Sunday competition. It proved a shrewd move and revitalised the League. A hard working and dedicated secretary and treasurer of the League was Kevin Grimmer. This was an effective trio that oversaw this transition to Sunday cricket.
In 1983, Bob Bidewell concluded a sponsorship deal with his friend, Bernard Matthews, who presented the League with the Bernard Matthews Cup. That year it was won by North Elmham.
Frank Haverson stood down as Chairman in 1999 and Colin King succeeded him.
In 2001 a new third division was created and on 14th January, Bob and his wife, Ali Bidewell presented the League with the R J Bidewell Cup which was won that year by Old Buckenham.
The following year saw further growth of the League with the introduction of two new divisions, the Haverson Division and the Birkbeck Division. Frank Haverson created his own trophy from an award that the League had presented to his father between the wars. The 2002 winners were Thetford. Henry Birkbeck of Westacre presented the League with the Birkbeck Cup to commemorate 100 years of association between the League and his family. The first winners were Anglian Cricket Club.
2003 saw the addition of two more divisions to the League: The Peter Parfitt Division and the Kevin Grimmer Division. Peter Parfitt, the former England batsman, who, as a lad, played in the League presented his own cup. The winners that year were Horsford.
Kevin Grimmer, who had given so much to the League, was the next to present a cup for the winners of the division bearing his name. The first winners of the Kevin Grimmer Cup were Beccles.
This same year saw the League incorporate the legendary Norfolk Junior Cup to be run as a ‘plate’ competition to the main Bernard Matthews Cup. The cup was first won in 1891 by Cromer however the first winners of the revised competition in 2003 were North Runcton.
2004 saw the Burgess Shield League incorporated into the League. This was a league run by Hethersett before their move to their new ground at Tasburgh. Hethersett & Tas Valley went on to win the Burgess Shield Division that year.
In January 2005, League President, Bob Bidewell, lost an all too brief battle against cancer. His passing was a dreadful loss to the League and even now he is much missed. At his funeral, the Toftrees and former Norfolk opening batsman, Alf Mace, gave a moving eulogy. So when there was a new division created, Alf was the natural choice. The first winners of the Alf Mace Cup were Dereham.
In 2008 there was a another new division created and Derek Cousins, the former Secretary and Treasurer of the Norfolk Cricket Board, presented the League with a splendid cup. In the first season it was won by North Runcton.
2014 saw the discovery of the original Norfolk Senior Cup. For 49 years, it had been eclipsed by the Norfolk Junior Cup and forgotten. However, a determined search uncovered its existence. It was given to the League to replace the Challenge Cup which had run out of room for inscribing any more winners. The original Norfolk Senior Cup was first won by Princes Street CC in 1884. The first winner of the revived original Challenge Cup was Swardeston.
In 2016, the Bernard Matthews sponsorship ended. It had attracted some of the best clubs in the county and the huge cup ( the size of the FA Cup ) and had become a prized trophy.
The new sponsor for this midweek competition was Hunts County Bats. It is the largest entry midweek competition in the county.
With the beginning of the Hunts County Bats sponsorship, it was decided to reunite, after a gap of 49 years, the original Challenge Cup (The Norfolk Senior Cup) with its longtime partner, the Norfolk Junior Cup.
In 2016, Colin King and his wife Angie presented the League with a new Challenge Cup that will be partnered with the Broke Cup for the Sunday knockout competition. In that year, it was won by Hethersett and Tas Valley.
In 2019, the League experimented with a new 100 BALL format. The England and Wales Cricket Board were planning to launch a similar competition in 2020. Terrestrial television rights had been decided so it was felt important to be offering a format that reflected what would been readily seen on the BBC TV.

This is the story so far...

History of The Broke Cup

Presented to the Mid-Norfolk Village Cricket League in 1951 by Major-General Robert Broke. He distinguished himself by displaying great bravery on his first day of action in 1940 during World War II. His actions earned him the Military Cross. He loved cricket and he presented the Broke Cup to the League to be played for as a 20 over knockout competition. He died in January 2002 aged 88 and his memorial service was held at Holme Hale.

The Daily Telegraph obituary:-
MAJOR-GENERAL ROBERT BROKE, who has died aged 88, was awarded the Military Cross in France in 1940, and later rose to be Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery in the 1970s.

In May 1940, as the Germans launched their offensive in the West, Broke, then an acting captain, was serving on the staff of 12th Division. This was a Territorial formation which had been sent to France for "labour duties" but which was soon caught up in heavy fighting. On May 20, Broke was sent forward in an open and unarmed car by divisional headquarters to get information as to the enemy's whereabouts. Driving towards Arras, he was heavily bombed while passing through Abbeville and discovered, as he approached Doullens, that enemy armoured vehicles were in the town.
This information enabled appropriate orders to be issued to his division. Shortly after his return to divisional headquarters, he was sent out again to ascertain the location of a brigade which was supposed to be withdrawing from the east to the west bank of the Somme. Reaching a bridge four miles south of Abbeville, Broke learned that enemy armour was on the opposite bank of the river and heard machine-gun fire there. Undeterred, he turned north and pushed through Abbeville itself, hoping to find a way through to the brigade, but on the eastern outskirts he encountered more enemy armour and escaped only with difficulty and under fire. Broke was unable to reach the brigade, but the information he took back to divisional headquarters was of the utmost value in enabling further plans to be made, and it was for this that Broke won his MC. The citation praised his "coolness, daring and great devotion to duty", and declared that "the lucidity of the information which he brought in on each occasion was invaluable".
Robert Stratton Broke was born on March 15 1913 at Melton, Suffolk, though his childhood was spent at the family farm at Holme Hale, Norfolk. After Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences, Broke joined the Army. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1933. Already a keen field sportsman - he had been whipper-in for the Trinity Beagles - he spent a lot of time hunting, shooting and point-to-pointing. In the summer of 1939 he was in Newfoundland as second-in-command of the Public Schools Exploring Society when events in Europe enforced his early return. On April 1 1940, Broke moved to France to join the British Expeditionary Force, posted to the staff of 12th Division. Of the events of May 20 for which he was awarded his MC, all Broke would ever say was: "It was my first day in action and I was never so stupid ever again."
After evacuation to England in June 1940, 12th Division was disbanded and Broke was posted to Sudan in the rank of major. Here he was appointed "deception officer" by Lieutenant-General Platt who, with 4th and 5th Indian Divisions, was about to invade Eritrea as part of the British offensive against the Italians in East Africa.
Sudan being a difficult place in which to conceal preparations for an offensive, Platt saw the need for elaborate deception measures. Summoning Broke he asked him: "Are you a good liar?" "Well," replied Broke, "I played poker fairly successfully at Cambridge." Broke's deception plan - sending dhows up and down the Red Sea, laying a railway line from Gedaref towards Gallabat, deploying fake hospitals and dummy tanks, and erecting a pier at a Red Sea port that even the Royal Navy thought was genuine - proved highly effective in masking Platt's real intentions. After the destruction of the Italian army in East Africa, Broke went west, posted to 7th Armoured Division (the original "Desert Rats").
Broke saw action at El Alamein and later with the American 5th Army in Tunisia, but not before he had been one of the first British officers into Tripoli. Arriving at the best hotel in the city, he took the opportunity of signing the register immediately below the names of the departing German High Command. A photograph of this in the Daily Mail provided the first information Broke's wife and mother had of his whereabouts. At the end of the North African campaign Broke returned to England and served the remainder of the war at the War Office, for which work he was appointed OBE in 1946.
After the war, Broke served in Egypt, and as an instructor at Sandhurst and the Staff College. From 1955 to 1957, he commanded 6th Field Regiment and after a period in Norway became, in 1959, Commander Royal Artillery of 5th Division, moving to 1st Division the next year. In 1960 he became Corps Commander Royal Artillery to 1st British Corps. After attending the Imperial Defence College in 1963, he returned to Germany the next year as Major-General Royal Artillery, in command of all British gunners in Germany, and the whole of Northern Army Group's nuclear artillery. Retiring from the Army in 1966, Broke became a Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery in 1968, and was in 1974-75 Representative Colonel Commandant - first Deputy to the Master Gunner.
In 1966, Broke joined the Board of the Wellman Engineering Corporation (later Wellman plc), later becoming chairman of six companies within the group. He remained with them until 1988, during which time he was twice chairman of the Iron and Steel Plant Contractors' Association and, from 1997 to 1999, president of the Metallurgical Plantmakers' Federation. After retiring in 1988 he became treasurer of London Appeals for Macmillan Cancer Relief.
Whatever spare time this left him, Broke devoted to the family farm at Holme Hale - where he continued the ringing and recording of birds which he had started as a child - and his local church, St Andrew's, Holme Hale, where as churchwarden he oversaw much restoration work. He was particularly proud of the appointment, as Bishop of Norwich, of Peter Nott, who had once been one of his subalterns.

Broke married, in 1939, Susan Bonsey, who died in 1997; he is survived by their two sons.