The amalgamation of Higham and Mockbeggar Farm cricket clubs in 1962 was a happy union then that still flourishes today. Higham contributed most of the players while Mockbeggar supported by the Brice family provided the ground. The association with the Brice family begun with local land owner and renowned soft fruit farmer JNL Brice, who became the club’s first president. He was followed by his widow Mrs E Norah Brice and then by their sons Simon and Peter who continue today giving their support as joint presidents. The early beginnings of cricket at the Ham River Hill ground were very modest. Changing facilities for the home team was a converted chicken house while the visitors had use of a marquee that doubled as the tea tent. Other amenities were even more basic but at least the ground was surrounded by orchards. Fixtures tended to be restricted to local villages sides but as car ownership grew so did the demand for matches further afield and soon a convoy of cars spread out to the four corners of the county. The club has retained a full fixture list for both days of the weekends throughout the summer months to this day. Joining the Kent Village League in 1974 was another massive step in the development of the club. The extra excitement generated from playing league cricket by pitching your skills and wits against often tough new opponents brings a competitive edge to the game not present in friendly fixtures. Recent league experiences have resulted in fluctuating fortunes but the importance of fair play and playing the game in the true spirit of cricket prevails even when results go against you.

Perhaps the club’s biggest claim to fame came in June 1976 when it accepted an invitation from the Oval Nondescripts to play at the home of Surrey CCC. A one off, once in a lifetime experience for the players who trod the hallow turf in the footsteps of such greats such as Hobbs, Edrich and Laker will never to be forgotten.

We are fortunate to have a very attractive ground on which to play our cricket and over the years many improvements have been made to the pavilion and equipment bought to maintain a good playing surface, but this comes at a price. Fundraising, whether it’s the ‘bus stop’ card after games, the 100 Club, quiz evenings or club presentation events they all play their part in keeping the club financially solvent. Throughout its history the club has not only welcomed the addition of new players but has involved the players families, especially on match days, when on tour and even as part of the committee.
Not only does it help foster a family friendly club it provides a fresh view of how the club is run and the direction it should take. The most significant change of late has been the introduction of a junior cricket section. To rely on sons replacing fathers was never going to generate sufficient future cricketers so began an amazing transformation. From humble beginnings with one mixed age group team to representative teams of U11, U13 and U15 in the Medway junior leagues. The ground is now buzzing on most evenings during the season days with happy young faces enjoying this great game of cricket, aspiring to be the next Pietersen, Denly or Anderson. Like all smaller clubs the tasks of running this type of activity falls to a few dedicated club members and parents who have given their time to gain coaching qualifications, become team managers, been accepted as welfare officers all of which is essential to the success of a junior section. The progress made is not only measured by efforts on the field of play but by achievements such as the award of ECB Club Mark and the KCB Kent Focus club status. Since 1962 the club has gathered statistics of success for batting, bowling and fielding for each cricket season but for this to continue we need new blood.

Whether you are an established cricketer looking for a new start, a parent of a cricket mad youngster looking for a club that can test his or her potential or just keen to try out the game we would like to hear from you. Why not come along to the nets sessions that start in January 2010. For more information call Club Secretary – Keith Short on 01634 200817

Colin Robson
Chairman

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