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Pitchero Club

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Club History

Early beginnings

Carmel & District Cricket Club was founded after a public meeting held at Carmel Village Hall in September 1965, which was attended by local people interested in the formation of a cricket club.

The main people behind the meeting were Norman Closs-Parry, Meirion Griffith, both school teachers, and Bill Parker.

Flintshire farmer John Williams generously allowed the new club to use one of his fields on the farm free-of-charge and the club began playing matches for the first time the following year at the Golch ground, opposite the Halfway House pub on the old A55 road, now the A5026, between Lloc and Holywell.

The previous incumbents of the Golch, until 1957, were Carmel United Football Club who left behind changing rooms, which had since been occupied by chickens!

Repairs were quickly made and the club obtained some playing equipment from the former Gorsedd CC who had been disbanded in 1954.

Turf was bought to prepare a pitch and an artificial practice pitch was also put down. Friendly matches on Saturdays - there was no league cricket then - and also midweek games were soon arranged.

The club played its first match against BJ Construction on Thursday, 5th May 1966. The XI that represented the club that day were N.Closs-Parry, N.Hilton, D.Jones, A.Preston, S.F. Taylor, A.Stokes, B.Davies, R.Davies, R.Pierce, J.Hughes and B.Williams.

The ground was on a slope, with bowling and batting sometimes difficult. On a fine day Blackpool Tower could be seen, and as the old A55 passed by the ground there was often a captive audience in the slow moving traffic.

A 'new' pavilion in the form of a redundant private chapel at Mia Hall was gifted to the club from nearby Trelawnyd. It had to be dismantled, transported and reassembled and served the club proud from 1969.

A new practice wicket was put down and a controlled water supply was complimented by ‘new’ equipment to maintain the ground. The club purchased grass cutting equipment, which was no longer required by the army following the closure of the Junior Tradesmans’ Regiment at nearby Kinmel Camp, from the Department of the Environment in 1974.

Cylinder mowers, gang-mowers, a tractor and a one-ton diesel roller together with many handy tools made a real difference to the clubs ability to produce good outfield and pitches.

North Wales Cricket League at the Golch

The club joined the North Wales League 2nd XI West Division in 1975. The club played their first competitive North Wales League match at home to Abergele. From 1972-1975 the club was also a member of the Flintshire Midweek League.

Carmel formed its own 2nd XI in 1982 entering North Wales League Division Four and the square was extended to allow for these extra matches while the club had a sufficient pool of players to continue to play Sunday friendlies.

The move to Pen-y-Gelli

In 1985 farmer John Williams, who had made his field available to the club, gave notice of his intended retirement and plans to sell the Golch farm.

The ground was unsuitable for outright purchase and plans were made to move as further development of the club would prove difficult in the absence of a lease.

To make way for the new A55 expressway a farm at nearby Lloc had been compulsorily purchased by the Welsh Office, with its fields being put up for sale.

The club successfully applied to the Sports Council and Delyn Borough Council for grant aid to re-establish the club on another ground. The one chosen for the new ground was a large 7.23-acre site with good quality soil for a cricket square located some two miles away from the existing ground.

There existed a Man-Power Services Agency at that time and Delyn Borough Council had promised they would provide labour and expertise as well as financial assistance in the development of the project.

After many months it became apparent that help would not be forthcoming as first thought and the club decided to go it alone.

Carmel was fortunate to have as one of its members Dominic Moynihan, a student who was studying surveying. He was able to lay out the field, position the square, the base for the prefabricated building to use as a pavilion, and a bowling green.

Work began in 1987 on a purpose-built square, which was laid to professional standards ensuring adequate drainage. The club also had to solve the problem of an appreciable slope leading down to the main road.

At the same time a housing site was being built in neighbouring Greenfield by McBrides building firm who had available for disposal some good quality sub-soil. The firm offered the club free delivery together with a machine and labour to level the field.

The problem of the slope was solved with a 'cut and fill' operation, which greatly improved the playing characteristics. The result was a level field of some 5.5 acres, creating one of the largest cricket playing arenas in North Wales, with a square accommodating 12 pitches.

As the pavilion at the Golch was in no condition to be dismantled again two heavy-duty portacabins, previously used as science laboratories at a school in Queensferry were acquired and adapted for use as a cricket pavilion. Water and electricity were connected and a shower cubicle added to both dressing rooms.

Carmel & District CC proudly began their first season at Pen-y-Gelli, which translates into English as ‘top of the woodland’, in 1991 and Conwy CC provided the opponents in the inaugural match played at the new ground.

A decade of improvements

As temporary planning permission for the portacabins would not be renewed plans were made to build a new pavilion. Club member Elwyn Williams had connections to another clubhouse, which had been built through a grant from the National Lottery, so secretary Stan Taylor galvanised enough local support for a grant to be awarded.

The portacabins were dismantled at the end of the season 1996 with work starting on the new structure in December 1997. The pavilion was not quite ready by the beginning of the season but by May 1997 the full facilities were in place.

The official opening was made by former England cricketer Tom Cartwright in July 1998 with Mrs Dorothy Taylor the guest of honour. The facilities were now good enough to host representative matches, with the full range of Flintshire County junior and senior sides playing matches at Pen-y-Gelli.

An artificial practice net was added to the ground in 1998 and two static practice nets were added in subsequent years along with a portable net.

The desire for cricket grows

The club continued to attract new members and there was a spike in interest from youngsters in the late 2000s which saw the club's junior sections expanded.

Indeed, the hunger for cricket was not satisfied by weekend matches in the NWCL so 20-over cricket on week nights was revived in 2010 as the club entered an XI into the Chester & District Midweek League.

Playing numbers swelled to such a level that in 2011 a 3rd XI was formed while in 2014 a second midweek team - the Old Boys XI - was created and joined the Colwyn Bay & District Midweek League as well as playing friendlies throughout the season.

Fifty years of Carmel

In 2015 the club's 1st XI won promotion to the newly restructured NWCL Division One - the highest level of cricket the club had ever played. It provided a fitting moment in what was the club's 50th anniversary year.

During that season the club also welcomed two Australian touring teams - Wanderers Australia and Canterbury CC - as part of its half-century celebrations.

The following year - 2016 - also proved successful as the club's 1st XI comfortably avoided relegation in NWCL Division One while the 3nd XI finished as champions of the West Division to secure their place in the Premier Division.

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