New book on rich and unusual history of a Northamptonshire village's former cricket ground

'There's so much bad news at the moment but people need something else to focus on so this can provide that'

Friday, 15th January 2021, 9:15 am
Captain Richard Henry 'Dick' Hawkins in front of the pavilion at Everdon Hall
Captain Richard Henry 'Dick' Hawkins in front of the pavilion at Everdon Hall

The rich and unusual history of a Northamptonshire village's former cricket ground has been lovingly turned into a book by a former player.

The cricket club at Everdon Hall hosted numerous legends of the sport as well as a few celebrities in its 96-year history before closing in 1997.

David Owen spent the first coronavirus lockdown researching the ground and writing his book, A Short History of Cricket at Everdon Hall, which was published just before Christmas.

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A Short History of Cricket at Everdon Hall was written by former player David Owen

"I played there for three or four years when it was in operation and obviously had a great time there," he told this newspaper.

"I kind of always intended to do something like this and then we were all stuck indoors in the lockdown in spring so it became my lockdown project."

Everdon Hall was founded on a field in Everdon in 1901 but was returned to farming in 1914, with cricket not returning to the village until 1950.

The post-war period saw the ground become one of the finest in the county, hosting an Old England vs Old Australia match for example.

Several first-class cricketers, such as Fred Trueman, Denis Compton, Brian Close and Frank Tyson, played there as well as many Northamptonshire regulars.

The BBC used to use the pitch in its footage for its coverage of the Ashes and had a rather surreal visit from Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars cross country equestrian team in 1978.

Captain Richard Henry 'Dick' Hawkins was the man behind the club his father Major Henry Hawkins founded at the turn of the century.

Dick's death in 1997 spelled the end for Everdon Hall and more than 20 years later, David felt compelled to create a record of its history.

"We were all looking for something to keep ourselves going and I have happy memories of it, plus I wanted to do it for Dick as it ended quite abruptly when he passed away," he said.

"He heaped a huge amount in to this thing having restored it in the 50s and he made a lot of people very happy in a small but important way and I didn't think that should be lost."

David scoured old newspaper clippings, schools books and every other resource he could find for his research as well as speaking to former players and volunteers.

After finishing writing, the journalist asked a friend in publishing to design the book and have it printed.

"I was blown away with the design as I didn't think it would be that professional and everyone who's seen it seems pleased with it," he said.

"I'm pleased with it too as with something like this, if it's worth doing then it's worth doing it properly."

David understands it is a niche book but hopes cricket and local history fans will find it interesting as well as perhaps something to take their mind off the state of the world at the minute.

"There's so much bad news at the moment but people need something else to focus on so this can provide that," he said.

"It includes lots of happy memories, people having been ringing me up to tell me how their dad might have played there or buying it for a cricket fan.

"People need cheering up a bit - and if they don't like cricket, they might like to read about the Jersey cows Dick had to get off the pitch before a match!"

For more information or to buy a copy for £5 plus £1.50 for postage, contact David by emailing [email protected] or calling 07771 898116.