By Stephen Pass
EXCITEMENT is mounting in Thirsk as the town’s club gets set to play at the spiritual home of cricket next week for the first time in its history.
Thirsk Cricket Club is taking on West Meon and Warnford Cricket Club at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of the ground's founder, Thirsk-born Thomas Lord.
West Meon in Hampshire is where Mr Lord died and is buried, and its cricket club suggested the match between the two teams.
The match became a reality following a visit to Thirsk last year by Roger Knight, secretary and chief executive of the MCC, to unveil a blue plaque on Thirsk Museum in Kirkgate, where Thomas Lord was born.
Following the unveiling, a reception was held at Thirsk Cricket Club, where representatives from the club raised the idea with Mr Knight.
Now dozens of supporters from Thirsk are set to cheer on their team next week for the match on Lord’s nursery ground.
“The whole club is very excited about it,” said the chairman of Thirsk Cricket Club, George Gifford.
“It is the spiritual home of cricket – it is the greatest cricket ground in the world. For a club our size, it is a very prestigious occasion for everyone connected with the club.”
The club is fielding a team made up of first, second and third team players, with Mr Gifford saying they had “tried to reward people for their services to the club, both on and off the field.”
While the club will aim to compete, Mr Gifford believes the occasion is more important, and he felt sure the game would be played in the right spirit.
“We are celebrating 250 years since the birth of Thomas Lord – that is a significant milestone.”
He added 60 or 70 people from Thirsk were going to the match, with some flying and others going by train and in private cars, as well as on two coaches. Some are going for three days, while others just for the match day itself.
“There is a lot of interest in the town and a lot of enthusiasm,” said Mr Gifford, adding the players’ shirts for the special occasion had been sponsored by John Perriam of Carlton Commercials Ltd.
Following the game, Thirsk are set to host a champagne reception and dinner on the evening which representatives of West Meon will attend, as well as hopefully Mr Knight and a guest speaker.
Matthew Cressey, the first team captain who will captain the club’s team at Lord’s, said it was a massive occasion.
“It is an honour to be playing in it and it is an honour to be appointed captain for the game,” he said.
“It is a game that obviously, yes, we will go to win but it will also be played in the right spirit.
“It is a game to remember Thomas Lord and we are honoured and very, very pleased to be able to play at Lord’s and it will be played in the right spirit.
“There is a buzz about the club at the moment – all three teams are doing well on a Saturday, the club is on the up and this will only help the club to move forward.”
Mr Cressey said a lot of time and effort had been put in by people and he thanked everyone involved, including Holly Bainbridge for all her hard work.
Thirsk’s Mayor, Coun Jan Marshall, is chair of the working group responsible for the blue plaques around the town.
“I am highly delighted that the blue plaques scheme was able to assist this happening,” she said, adding it was a wonderful honour for both Thirsk and Thirsk Cricket Club.
She added Thirsk Town Council had sponsored two of the club’s cricket balls this season – one of which would be used at Lord’s.
“People are very proud of the cricket club that they are actually at Lord’s and celebrating one of Thirsk’s famous sons.
“We wish them all the very best of luck in the match.”