Four Oaks Cricket Club

THE HISTORY OF FOUR OAKS CRICKET CLUB 1946 onwards

Around 1946 Lorne Cricket Club were displaced from their ground In Hill Village Road by the building of the Mere Green television mast, moving a mile from their existing ground they leased a field and became Four Oaks Cricket Club.

The field which was the northern end of Mere Green. Roughly square and bounded by the Lichfield Road and the deep cutting of the Birmingham to Lichfield railway line, the area is now developed as Harland Road directly opposite to Arthur Terry School.

Along the southern edge ran the public right of way leading to a decrepit footbridge and up the hill to Clarence Road. The right of way and the footbridge are still there, but the only remnant of the field is part of the hedge at the side of the path.

At the south east corner of the field stood a solitary house and narrow garden full of apple trees. At the end of the garden, but within the field, a small sports pavilion served the needs of a football team, (Wolvesley Sheepshearers FC), which used the ground at irregular intervals.

There were many memorable matches on what was an indifferent and sometimes dangerous wicket. This didnt inhibit Vic Larkin, a Four Oaks Saints player, from scoring a half-century in just over six minutes. There was an astronomical skyer struck off the edge of his bat and which, after climbing for what seemed minutes, descended upon the roof of a passing Midland Red double-decker bus.

One of the permanent hazards of playing cricket in the field was the presence of the railway cutting. The train smoke could be a problem and most boundaries scored at the western edge of the ground necessitated a tricky descent to the railway track and an exhausting climb back.

The club felt the need for a practice net so around 1953 an artificial wicket was constructed at the side of the field.

Four Oaks stalwarts from those days were the captain Don Bickley, the wicket keeper Stan Robertson, Harold Medlicott, Wilf Billington and his son Robin, Charlie Betts, the Holmes brothers, and Bob Stamp.

In 1961 the Club moved to Coppice Lane, the present home of Aston Unity C.C., where they remained for three years. It appears that the money needed to develop the site was beyond the capability of the members at that time.

The Club once more became a semi-nomadic team playing some home matches on the smaller pitch at Sutton Coldfields Rectory Road ground. It was during this period that Four Oaks Cricket Club won the Festival Shield beating Little Aston in July 1965, it was not until 12 years later when they moved to the Walmley Road site that they secured a permanent home.

In 1977 agreement was reached with Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club to form the Sutton Coldfield Recreational Trust. The needs of the Cricket Club and the Rugby Club were basically the same, they both needed a ground that could be developed with a lengthy lease. The Governments Boundary changes created the opportunity.

In the last days before Sutton Coldfield became part of Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield Borough Council gave Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club and Four Oaks Cricket Club the chance to develop the 16 acre agricultural site on Walmley Road as a sports area. The Sutton Coldfield Recreational Trust was born in 1976. The Trust had started with only £10,000 capital but still managed to raise £50,000 in loans and a further £20,000 in grants and in September 1977 the Walmley Road site was opened at a cost of some £95,000. In 1982 the Trust was presented with the opportunity to purchase an extra six acres of land next to the cricket pitch for use by the Rugby Club and other site users.

The main Club building was constructed by members of the two clubs in 1977 and there have been a number of major extensions added over the years. Four Oaks Cricket Club marked the occasion by playing a match against an M.C.C. representative side.

The Club initially encountered problems with the ground and the square had to be re-laid three times. The transition from a nomadic club to a club with their own ground was also traumatic with the extra responsibilities it brought. This led to a number of long term members leaving the Club.

On the playing side Oaks played friendly matches up until 1983 when they entered the Birmingham Area Independent League. The Club were champions in 1985 and 1987.

To meet the ambitions of the Club and its members it became evident that higher standard of cricket was required and it was on this basis that an application was made to the Printline League. The first success in this new league was winning the Knock-Out Trophy in 1989.

The Clubs first Youth Development Programme began in 1987 with formation of an Under 16 team under the leadership of Jim Parkes MBE. During the next ten years the Club fielded teams at Under 13, 15 and 18 levels in the West Midlands Youth Cricket Association. The Under 16 teams enjoyed success for four consecutive years by winning the Lord Taverners Challenge Trophy for Group 2. The Under 18 team were League runners up in 1992 and 1993 and were Cup Finalists in 1993. Many former Club youth team players have progressed and now play for senior clubs across the Midlands.

In the mid 1990's Club joined the Warwickshire Cricket League on Saturdays and Berry League on Sundays running two senior sides in each division. TThey won the Festival Brewery Shield 2nd XI K.O. in 1993 and Division 5 Championship of the Berry and Co. Sunday League in 1994.

In the mid 2000's the club short on paying members took the decision to reduce their playing commitments to one side per day, Joining the Warwickshire Single team Division 1 on Saturdays and Lichfield Cricket League division 6 on Sundays.

In 2006 the club celebrated a double promotion season with the club winning the Warwickshire league (remaining unbeaten all season) and gaining promotion to Lichfield League Division 5.

The success prompted the club to return to the Warwickshire two team structure. The following season was a financial disaster with over two thirds of their matches abandoned due to flooding at their Walmley Road home

2008 once again saw success for both Saturday and Sunday sides, the clubs first ever overseas player helped the 2nd team gain promotion to Warwickshire league division 5 and the Sunday side won the Lichfield League Division 5 title winning every completed match. The season also saw Jon Hipkiss become the first ever Four Oaks player to be selected in the Warwickshire League representative Side

After almost a decade of high scoring at Four Oaks with more than 10 individual League Hundreds and a number of club records being set, two further batting records were completed in 2009. Jon Hipkiss scored the clubs highest ever score 227 in a Sunday friendly V Marston Green and Advan scored the clubs Highest ever league score 179 V Bedworth

In 2010 Oaks were left with no option but to leave their Walmley Road home of almost 35 years following deterioration of their relationship with their Trust partners at the Sutton Rugby Club site.

Oaks who were founder members of the Charitable Trust were given notice at the site after discussions broke down following an ongoing disagreement over the constitutional members vision for the site

Keen to keep the club a live Oaks committee searched for solutions within the local area

Aston Unity and Wishaw Cricket Clubs threw the club a lifeline offering Four Oaks playing facilities on Saturdays and Sundays, with this support the Club has gone from strength to strength during 2010. The Saturday side completed their first season in the Staffs League Div 3 with a mid table finish and an unbeaten second half to the season

The Sunday side earned promotion to the Lichfield Cricket League Div 2 narrowly piping Birmingham League side Lichfield to the title

As Oaks looked forward to their 65th Anniversary in 2011 the committee indentified that a strong youth set up would to allow the club to move forward

With Warwickshire Div 3 side Wishaw looking to widen their youth options the two club have worked together to launch a combined Youth academy in 2011

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League Tables

Warwickshire Cricket League Division 6 1st XI

1 Aston 7 129
2 Walmley 7 107
3 Nuneaton 7 90
4 Wythall 7 89
5 Standard 7 85
6 Peugeot 7 83
7 Four Oaks 7 83
8 Bablake 7 62
9 Prince of Wales 7 59
10 Warwick 7 49
11 Ansley 7 41
12 Bedworth 7 25

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