A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BRAINTREE DISTRICT INDOOR CRICKET LEAGUE


The Braintree District Indoor Cricket League was, initially, the brainchild of Keith Allison, then the Manager of the Notley Sports Centre in Braintree, and he called a meeting after which twelve local cricket clubs formed the League. Those twelve clubs were Braintree, Cressing, Gosfield, Braintree Traders, Rayne, Witham, Six Bells, Braintree Post Office, Silver End, Little Bardfield, High Garrett and Shalford, eight of whom still play in the League and one of whom has changed it’s name. The fixtures were drawn up, and on Sunday November 11th 1979 the first games were played. At the last minute, almost, the Braintree Traders withdrew and Felsted Cricket Club, playing as Felsted Wanderers, replaced them as members of the League. The very first match saw Braintree defeat Shalford which was then followed by Silver End defeating Braintree Post Office. The twelve teams had been divided into two groups of six clubs, with the top two in each group then meeting in the Semi-Finals. The first Champions turned out to be Witham. Such was the interest that there were new applicants for the following season, so the top four in each of the two groups formed the new Division One with the remainder becoming Division Two, and as such the League structure came into being for the 1980-81 season.

Over the following few seasons more teams entered, eventually reaching the point that at one centre alone, it was no longer possible to fit all the matches in. So the League expanded to playing matches at the newly opened Towerlands Equestrian Centre as well, with the addition of a Reserve Championship. This separate competition began in the 1985-86 season remained as the only division playing at that Centre for two seasons, but still demand for Indoor Cricket in the area grew, and a radical step forward was taken for the 1987-88 season. The league was divided into three divisions, with each team playing each other at both centres, at Notley with the hard Indoor ball, and at Towerlands with the soft Playground ball. The Reserve Championship continued to be played at just Towerlands. Eventually even that set up proved too small and in time the Reserve Championship got split into two divisions, and ultimately it was disbanded altogether with all the teams now participating in a five Division league. This last and most far reaching alteration came out with the opening of the Braintree Leisure Centre which meant that more games could be played in one day. So we moved away from Notley Sports Centre, where we could only play four games a day to the Leisure Centre, where eight could be played.

At the end of the 2003-04 season, a radical promotion took place as Colchester & East Essex were "fast-tracked" to Division One for the 2004-05 season, giving us a First Division of nine clubs, and a Third Division of just seven for one season. The balance will be redressed in time for the 2005-06 season. Also in 2004 due to the deteriorating conditions at Towerlands, the League agreed that we should move play back to Notley Sports Centre, where now we could utilise more hours than we could before moving away from there. It appears that most players agreed that the move was the right decision as now spectators could once again watch the action with the softer ball. The league also welcomed West Bergholt and Elmstead Grasshoppers to the league, as the feed for the North district of the Essex Cricket Board competition we have to consider applications from any member club of that Association. So maybe it is now slightly misleading to call the League the Braintree District Indoor Cricket League, maybe the North Essex Indoor Cricket League would be more appropriate.

The 2011-12 season saw a demonstration evening take place at The College at Braintree with a view to canvassing opinion as ot moving there as the facilities at Notley Sports Centre were getting spartan to say the least. The evening proved favourable and in October 2012 play at the larger centre began and it proved popular with just about everyone. The 2012-13 season did see a few teams withdraw from the competition and othe 2013-14 season will begin with only 37 participating teams, three down on our maximum of 40.

For the full League and Cup Roll of Honour, click here