Bury St Edmunds: Celebration to be held to mark closure of cricket pavilion

Action at the Victory Ground between Bury St Edmunds and Horsford

Action at the Victory Ground between Bury St Edmunds and Horsford - Credit: Archant

A SUFFOLK cricket club is planning a day to remember when it marks the end of an era at its ground.

The pavilion which has stood on the Victory Ground, in Bury St Edmunds, since its opening in 1921 is to close next month.

Bury St Edmunds CC is aiming to re-unite as many former members as possible to celebrate the historic occasion on Sunday, September 15.

The Victory Ground, in Nowton Road, was originally purchased by brewers Greene King Ltd as a memorial ground following the First World War.

Since the Westgate Brewery XI and Bury St Edmunds CC amalgamated in 1976, the club has played on the ground and been a dominant force in Suffolk cricket.

The ground has regularly hosted Suffolk county matches and the old pavilion has been used to change in by a host of international stars.

Over the years these have included ex-England skippers Mike Gatting, Graham Gooch and Nasser Hussain, current captain Alastair Cook, West Indians Clive Lloyd and Curtly Ambrose and Australian Michael Hussey among others.

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The club is organising matches involving current and past Bury players to celebrate the last time the pavilion will be used, before staging a closing ceremony.

Details of the day’s activities will be announced in due course once they have been confirmed.

Cricket club chairman Paul Whittaker said: “The pavilion has been a focal part of the sporting scene in the town for almost 100 years.

“We felt it was appropriate to mark this occasion by getting as many past players and people connected with the club together for its final fling before closing.”

The old pavilion is being replaced by a new pavilion and sports hall which are currently being built on the ground at a cost of £2.1m and are expected to be completed in November.

Botham’s exit via a rear window!

FORMER England captain Ian Botham once left the ground via a rear window of the Bury St Edmunds pavilion.

The incident occurred when Worcestershire played against Suffolk at the Victory Ground, in a NatWest Trophy first-round tie, in June 1990.

Botham, who had earlier opened the bowling and returned figures of 12-2-44-3, did not bat as Worcestershire defeated Suffolk by eight wickets.

But fans were left disappointed after the match when they congregated outside the front of the pavilion to collect autographs only to realise Botham had already left.

Botham, who was accompanied by his driver, had exited through a window at the rear of the pavilion before being driven off out of the ground.

However, autograph hunters had more success with obtaining the signatures of two serving England skippers when they played at the ground.

They formed an orderly queue in front of the pavilion when Graham Gooch led his Essex side to a 121-run victory in a NatWest Trophy first-round match in June 1993.

And current England captain Alastair Cook was already his country’s one-day skipper when he signed autographs outside the pavilion as Essex defeated the Unicorns by eight wickets in a Clydesdale Bank 40 group game in May 2011.

On an altogether different note two other memorable incidents surrounding the pavilion occurred during Suffolk’s 32-run NatWest Trophy first-round defeat to Northamptonshire in June 1989.

Rain interrupted play during the day, resulting in confusion over the timing of the tea interval, so that when umpires John Holder and Bob Duckett started to walk off, tea lady Pat Coates told them tea was not ready!

Northants skipper Allan Lamb, after a discussion with Pat, then took the players back out.

With the match spilling over into a second day Lamb and fellow England cricketer Greg Thomas took the tea ladies shopping in town in order to buy lunch to serve in the pavilion.