The Early Days
Let me take you back in time to before the days of the club. Hidden down a track in the centre of the village and backing onto woods and fields stood (and still does) the village hall. Next to it there is a small wooden hut at that time only 12 x 10 feet (4 x 3 m).
The small construction was at one time known as the ‘reading room‘, and it is this that became the Club House. Following a ‘Cricketing’ conversation between Stuart Chalk and Gerry Jepson a meeting was held at the Rectory in February 1962. Those present were Stuart, Gerry, the Reverend Casdagelli (in the chair), John Wallis, Cyril Eady, Major George Cree plus John Turner or Dick Jesty.
As the village had no wicket, all matches were played away from home for the first season and the team was named the Owermoigne Nomads. Amongst the teams they played in those days was a team from Lulworth known as the Weld XI, run by the ex-‘Lord of the Manor‘, the late Wilfred Weld.
For the record the first squad of players included, Stuart Chalk, Gerry Jepson, John Turner, The Rev. Casdagelli, Dick Jesty, John Wallis, Brian Morgan, David Temple, Eddie Dorey, Martin Cree, and Melvin Loveless with Claire Loveless the scorer. Derek & Philip Whatmore became involved in 1963. Very early on the team was allowed to use Col. Ross Skinner’s lawn at Warmwell House. After losing quite a few daffodils one evening he came out with a silver tray loaded with glasses and a large bottle of sherry. It is claimed he was quite a player, but due to loss of his daffodils play didn’t resume there again!
During 1963 the hut, which had by then been a chicken shed, a Scout Hut and farmers‘ union meeting room, underwent its first transformation. The hut had originally been part of the village hall and was used for Whist Drives (a card game), but following a controversial dispute, the Whist Drive Club ceased and the hut became the home of Bill Bascombe’s chickens. It was Jill Lawton’s father who later used it as the Scout Hut before the Scouts moved to Broadmayne.
As you may imagine a fair amount of work was needed to turn into a socialising venue. This was largely due to the enthusiasm of a young Gerry Jepson, who along with a few others, including Stuart Chalk, concreted the floor, replaced rotten timber and repaired what was possible. The original committee consisted of Dick Jesty (Chairman), Derek Whatmore (Treasurer), John Turner (Secretary), Philip Whatmore sorted out the alcohol licence and a bank account each for the team and club, and Gerry Jepson took charge of the bar. The club opened Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday nights plus Sunday lunch times. Gerry ran this for the first 2 years.
It was most probably that during season 2 (1963) that work commenced preparing a field north of the village opposite Derek Whatmore’s Mill House Nursery (which now includes a Cider Museum and Clock Museum). The members set to work in an ideal English setting. They also paid for the wicket to be professionally prepared at a cost of £130 and built a Pavilion. They played for just one season here and before they could use the wicket for a second season the land owner/farmer decided he wanted to use the field and it was ploughed it up (I understand he left the actual wicket in tact). It is stated that some cows took a dislike to the Pavilion and destroyed it. Stuart remembers (1998) that he and Herbie Rogers rescued part of it and moved it on a boat trailer to 14 Wareham Road – where it still stands covered in Roses & Ivy.
After that a field within 5 minutes walk of the Club House was cleared of gorse and brambles. Much effort must have gone into this as the landowner would not allow access for any vehicles which was needed to get heavy equipment in. This meant carrying everything across land – it wasn’t a level walk. Unfortunately the field was then used by the landowner and never used as a cricket field.
During 1965 the team returned from a match at Studland after what can only be described as a traditional ‘piss-up‘ (for overseas readers, this involves drinking quantities of alcohol). They travelled, for some reason in the wrong direction, across from Studland to Sandbanks via the ferry and had a joyous evening in the Haven Hotel. (Gerry nearly choked to death on a boiled sweet that night.) The team eventually returned to the village singing their hearts out at 3:30 in the morning – that was more or less their last match – the wives decided to ban them from playing again!
Around 1969 a Bobby House formed a team in the neighbouring village of Moreton of which Gerry captained. Other Owermoigne members also joined neighbouring village teams.
Although the Owermoigne team was now defunct the Club itself continued and improvements to the hut continued through the 60s. Then disaster struck the building in 1970, a mature Elm came down on top of it completely destroying all the hard work that had gone on before. The tree is believed to have fallen from number 3 or 4 Chilbury Gardens but the whereabouts of the photographic evidence is unknown. This huge tree was resting on the still standing club bench seat that Gerry had made and the only other item of furniture unaffected was a heavy duty steel cabinet in which the spirits were locked (an insurance requirement). This cabinet, obtained by Tom Cady, was ex-army and may explain why it was so strong. Now a Club House had to be built from scratch.
It was Bill Best who eventually took charge of this project. Again members rallied round, (including Phil Powell & Don Harding), materials were purchased and recycled from elsewhere. The members were able to take advantage of an old wooden building which was about to be demolished in Kit Lane between the Village Shop and footpath to the village hall and cricket club. This was dismantled, transported and erected after the site was cleared. This took place in the September of 1970 and the drinks licence granted them exactly a year to have the premises back in place. Meanwhile the club continued with a makeshift bar on the stage of the village hall still opening 3 nights a week plus Sunday lunch times. The following September a new club house opened which forms the basic structure of what we have today. Total cost of materials came to £134.
It was not until 1975 that the club started its own cricket team again when, in conjunction with Moreton CC, Gerry, Stuart, Malcolm Umfreville, Andrew Bedford and the Cheffy brothers, the Mowers were formed. Moreton is the resting place of TE Lawrence best known as Lawrence of Arabia.
The first club captain of the ‘reformed‘ team was Gordon Bridle who sadly died of a brain tumour before the opening day of the season. In his memory the Gordon Bridle trophy for “Clubman of the Year” was annually presented to the member who made a significant contribution to the club during the previous year.
The team continued to play cricket at Moreton until 2001 and went under the name of The Mowers for mid-week evening league matches and Owermoigne CC for Sunday matches.
N.B. the above are the main recollections collected in 1998 from some of those involved right from the start.