I (EJW) have to say I knew nothing of this matter until it turned up in Marion Smith’s scrapbook. It clearly made an impression at the time! Here is the text of an article by “A Sunday Express Reporter” reproduced in full in the interests of local heritage. If you own the copyright and would like it removed, please get in touch.
THE SUNDAY EXPRESS March 28 1982
FOR AS LONG as anyone can remember, cricket has been played on the recreation ground in the village of Eversholt, in an atmosphere both competitive and tranquil. Then things changed. Suddenly vindictiveness was in the air where once there had been warm support. One night someone sawed through a metal water pipe outside the pavilion so that the Eversholt XI were unable to make tea the following afternoon.
Another time the players arrived at the ground to find that someone had made deep footprint all over the wicket. After that the protest became more subtle but no less effective. A home match was halted for several minutes while the parish council chairman and his wife took a quiet stroll across the field.
The Issue behind all this aggravation is whether the club should be allowed to keep its new bar or the players walk 10 yards down the road to the Green Man pub. The matter is so important that a local by-election was fought on the Issue.
The whole thing began to approach boiling point when the cricketers, after years of unsuccessful approaches, opened up their own pavilion bar. And the village elders, who don’t approve of the number of “outsiders” in the team anyway, retaliated by giving the cricketers notice to quit the ground.
The Green Man, they argue, was always good enough for them. Mr Pat Richardson, who has lived in the Bedfordshire village for 13 years, stood for the parish council for one specific purpose – to find out why the council is so much against the cricket club bar. His interest, he insists, is simply to see justice done. He Is not even a member of the cricket club.
Mr Richardson, who was unsuccessful in the by-election said : “This issue is completely dividing the village. For years people have been trying to get the council to spell out why they don’t want a bar. They just say that it isn’t in the interests of the village. I think one of the main problems is the older members of the cricket club who remember things as they used to be.”
The new parish councillor, who got in by 107 votes to 74, is 65-year-old market gardener Mr Stanley Fleet-Chapman, who has lived in the village all his life. He said: “The cricket club have got a bit above themselves and have offended a few of us old ones. We don’t want a bar there. The team is all outsiders. It would be better if it were made up of Eversholt men. Why can’t they just return to the traditional way of things and go and have a drink at the Green Man after matches?”
Of the 30 or so playing members of the cricket club only six live in Eversholt and only two of those play with any regularity for the first eleven. The rest come from surrounding villages or from towns like Bedford and Dunstable some ten miles away. Bringing in outsiders, says club secretary Mr John Inchbald, is absolutely essential if a club is to survive in a village the size of Eversholt. Just as the revenue from the bar is essential if they are to be able to maintain the ground and the pavilion.
Cricket club committee man and former team captain for 19 years is Mr Colin Garratt, from the village of Ridgmont, two miles away. He said : “We have been asking for a bar for 10 years but the council has never agreed. In the end we got fed up and applied for a club registration certificate, which was eventually granted by local magistrates. A copy was put on the village notice-board and the parish council knew all about it. They made a mistake and left it too late to make an official objection. When we so away for games practically every club we play is in a position to entertain visitors. All we want to do is offer visiting teams the facilities they are used to. Going to the village pub means the children have to play outside and if the weather is bad everybody just goes home instead. We do try to encourage local people to play but if we had to rely on Eversholt players alone the club would have folded 15 years ago.”
Mr Garrett was playing when the council chairman and his wife walked across the field and he added : “The game was stopped and there was a stunned silence. We were all convinced iot was a pointless gesture.”
Parish council chairman Mr Pat Barr, however, disagrees. Mr Barr, a former player himself, said : “There is a public footpath across the outfield. We were merely taking a Sunday evening walk. We have given the cricket club notice to try to bring them to their senses. Our terms are no bar and if that isn’t acceptable they will have to get out.”
Meanwhile, at the cricket club they are not in despair. The wicket is being prepared for the first game in four weeks’ time.