Empingham Cricket Club
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Empingham CC is village cricket club based in Rutland, the smallest county in England. The club is currently celebrating its Bicentennial year in 2015, with its first recorded game having been played on September 18th 1815 against the Leicestershire village of Knossington. In terms of magnitude the club peaked in the late 20th century, when it consistently was able to put out four competitive sides every weekend.
Nowadays, the club boasts only one competitive side which competes on Sunday’s in Division One of the Grantham and Melton Cricket Association (GMCA). There is also a friendly side which plays throughout the summer on a Saturday against a variety of local opposition. The club also plays T20 friendlies on Friday evenings as well as entering the Rutland T20 cup and the famous Burghley Sixes competition.
The first team captain is Tom Cooper, who has held the role for four seasons now. His tenure has proved a successful one, with back to back promotions and two successful seasons in the top flight of the GMCA, where Empingham finished second and fifth respectively. Cooper is also a star player with the bat, scoring 683 league runs in 2014 @53. Meanwhile, the destructive Baz Sharp scored 516 league runs @74.
The standout bowler over the past few campaigns has been young off-spinner Olly Elson, who in 2014 took 25 wickets @12.8. Although the main wicket taker, Elson has much to thank stalwart seamers Stew Naylor and Dave Mckevitt for. The pair regularly create pressure at the start of an innings. Naylor is famously known as the ‘unluckiest bowler in league cricket’ as he consistently bamboozles batsmen without picking up his deserved wickets.
The club prides itself on its excellent team spirit and family culture. With a brilliant mix of young and old players across the three different sides it is extremely social and friendly. Indeed, the Saturday side under the leadership of club legend Gary Cooper regularly bloods talent which then moves into the first team, as shown by the likes of Freddie Turner, Will Thraves, Archie Spears, Jack Sharp and Henry Stephenson in recent years. This is combined with others who have played at Empingham for decades.
The facilities at the club are second to none for a village side. Under the magnificent stewardship of groundsman Mal Smith, Exton Road has become one of the best wickets in the county. With a rapid outfield and flat track it can be a batsman’s paradise, although it offers enough to keep all bowlers interested. Mal’s hard work was recognised in 2014 as Empingham CC hosted a Women’s County Championship game, which was a roaring success.
The picturesque views, well equipped clubhouse, stunning wicket and friendly atmosphere make Empingham CC one of the best grounds to visit and teams to play for in the country. Here’s to the next 200 years!