Bentley Heath Cricket Club toast up and down history as bats get raised for century

PUBLISHED: 06:41 25 May 2020

Bentley Heath Cricket Club side in1921.

Bentley Heath Cricket Club side in1921.

Archant

This was always going to be a memorable year for Bentley Heath regardless of coronavirus and the ensuing restrictions it has brought – as the cricket club celebrate their 100th birthday.

Bentley Heath Cricket Club side in 2000 on their annual President's Day.Bentley Heath Cricket Club side in 2000 on their annual President's Day.

It has been a history dotted with ups and downs for the club hidden away in the Wrotham Park estate, just south of Potters Bar, since their first game on May 15, 1920.

Totteridge were the opponents and after being set a target of 83, Heath were bowled out for 49.

Having a season curtailed like it has been in 2020 is not something new though as there were fixtures drawn up for the 1940 season.

But with seven players missing through call-ups it was decided “for the duration, all cricketing activities will come to a close with the end of the 1940 season”.

John Hall, Martin Dunnett and Peter Halsey with the award for club of the year and Herts Village Twenty20 trophy in 2005.John Hall, Martin Dunnett and Peter Halsey with the award for club of the year and Herts Village Twenty20 trophy in 2005.

The club’s match at Napsbury on September 2, 1939, was played in uncertainty, being the day after the invasion of Poland and one day before Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced war with Germany.

Cricket didn’t resume at the club until the 1947 season and even then they had to play at Barnet Playing Fields due to neglected state of the ground at Wrotham Park.

The following year Bentley Heath joined the club cricket conference and have remained a member to this day for all pre and post season friendlies.

After moving back to Wrotham Park Bentley Heath’s matches were often noticeable for the number of bovine spectators, the estate’s cattle given free rein to wander the grounds.

There has been a Collis in the Bentley Heath Cricket Club side for the last 72 years. Left-to-right: Dave Collis, Gary Collis, Peter Collis, Craig Collis.There has been a Collis in the Bentley Heath Cricket Club side for the last 72 years. Left-to-right: Dave Collis, Gary Collis, Peter Collis, Craig Collis.

That changed when they moved to their current location in 1981 and a fenced-off area made an improvement to the state of wicket and outfield, even if there still was the odd intrusion.

The first brick-built pavilion was completed in 1992 after six years work, funded, designed and mainly constructed by the members’ own efforts.

It last a little more than seven years though when it was disturbingly destroyed by arson in the early stages of the 1999 season, a moment that rocked the club to its core.

However, after a season of using a temporary cabin, the club welcomed in the 2001 season with a new pavilion, built by the Wrotham Park estate and mainly funded from insurance receipts.

Bentley Heath Cricket Club side in 1960 on their annual President's Day.Bentley Heath Cricket Club side in 1960 on their annual President's Day.

A lot of Bentley Heath’s most notable success has come in recent years, in the wake of joining the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League in 2000.

After a few years of settling within the league the club hit some excellent form hitting back to back promotions between 2007 and 2010 when the first-team moved from Division 10 up to Division Six.

Their most trophy-laden and successful season was the 2010 campaign.

Not only did it see the fourth promotion in a row for the firsts but the second team tasted their first moment of triumph with their own promotion, five years after joining the league system.

To cap things off Bentley Heath also won the Herts Village Twenty20 Trophy at Clarence Park and were awarded the club of the year award” by the league.

That was a moment the Martin Dunnett, the club’s longest-serving captain, holding the role from 1997 to 2014, was naturally proud of.

Throughout the years Bentley Heath has very much been a family club, with many a member introducing the next generation. Nowhere is that more notable than in the Collis family.

This year will mark 72 years of at least one Collis being a member of the club. These days second-team wicketkeeper Craig is the one flying the family flag and keeping alive a legacy that started in 1948 with Peter Collis, who sadly passed away in November.

He later introduced two of his sons, current chairman Gary in 1975 and Dave, who began his Heath career in 1982.

Wicket keeping seemingly became a very consistent part of the game for the family with Peter passing the gloves to Gary who in turn handed them to son Craig in 2005.

These days the club run two teams on a Saturday and there is also an occasional Sunday XI.

The hope is that the season will commence on July 11 and there will be a warm welcome for any new members who want to join, regardless of ability, at a club eagerly looking forward to the next 100 years.

For more information go to www.bentleyheathcc.hitscricket.com


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