Posts about my local area will usually be divided in to three sections. A recollection will be made about the past, a comment on the present and an interpretation for the future. Here is the first.
Past: A lanky 14 year old stands in the slips.
Sometime, a Sunday in May 1973, a lanky 14 year old played his first match for PIlning Cricket Club. He fielded at first slip, apparently so as to get used to the pace of the game. Colin Reeves raced in, trying to get an edge that would fly in to this keen lads small hands. No catches, not even a chance to bat, but the seed was sown and cricket became the sport for me. My first innings came a couple of weeks later. 2 runs were scored at No.11 in a defeat at Old Down. On August 23rd 1981 I played my last game for the club, home to Sudbrook. In those 8 years I played a few hundred games, scored more than a few hundred runs and bowled a few overs for far too many runs. I left to play for my new club, Rickley Park in Milton Keynes, only ever to return with touring sides to play against them.
First Game: 1973 V Blagdon Pilning 129 -4; Blagdon 127
First Innings 1973 V Old Down Pilning 85; Old Down 86 -9 (2 Runs)
First Bowling 1973 V Stroud Cavaliers 1 – 0 – 5 – 1 Pilning 116 (4 Runs); Stroud Cavaliers 117 – 5
Best Bowling mmmmmmmm!
Highest Score 1978 105 Not Out V Patchway.
Last game 23 August 1981 V Sudbrook
It was a long, now lost, hope that when I returned to Pilning, that the Cricket Club might provide some sense of connection between my youth and approaching old age. I should explain that the cricket square represented much of what was good about the village in the 1970s. I should call it Kevin’s square, for he was the one that spent hours and hours keeping it to a decent enough standard for the teams to attract good quality opposition. The bar at the end of the field, inside the wooden pavilion, was the breeding group for my political education. Long into the night, post-match, the likes of Pete, Don and Ivor were my guinea pigs in honing a primitive debating skill. Cricket brought people together, if only on those Sunday nights to watch the last hour of play and down a well-earned pint. It took days of our winter weekends to paint that pavilion, repair the walls, empty the Pill for water in the summer of 76 and sometimes hit the ball into Chris Tudor’s garden.
Present: A concrete strip and a stupid, stupid play area.
Some team members still live here, I see them in the village but the square and pavilion are just something of memory. The concrete strip of the nets is now under the creeping grass. The football pitch appears to sit more naturally the wrong way round on “our” outfield. More importantly for the future of any phoenix cricket club is the encroachment of children’s play equipment on the field. A concrete hard surface, swings and roundabouts, pulley things and bits of stuff that are just momentary attention span grippers now take permanent residence on that very same slope I stood in earlier. A cricket field needs space for an outfield, preferably of grass. I wouldn’t mind so much if the stupid, stupid, play area was used. Any parent bringing their child by car to the field is faced with a gate denying access and a parish council rant-fest of notices stating what is not permitted to happen there. Perhaps if the field was open for the public to use regularly then the number of visitors who pass the list of permissible activities might be a sustainable amount. Today that field represents to me, all that is bad in 2015 Pilning.
Future: A new Village hall?
I have seen the proposal for the new village hall. I have memories and observations of the present usage. I cannot help but think that its future has to be very different to its past. I approve of well thought out consultation. The sort of conversation that can be off the wall at first, beyond blue sky thinking, the sort that brings people together to dream a little. From this will come pragmatism and realistic adjustment to the boundaries of cost and potential. The changes proposed for the new hall smack of non-consultation. The sort of non-consultation that asks bus travellers to comment on the reasons why non-bus users do not use the buses. How would they know? The non-bus users should surely be asked their opinion? The original plan had a sports hall with named activities. Since when was Pilning a hot bed of Badminton? Where is the demand for a gymnasium and fitness club? As with all consultations, the people who don’t use the facility are as important, if not more important, than those with a vested interest. What community based activities need better facilities? What are the facilities we need to generate more successful events? I would start with what we have already. Proper, fit for this century, changing rooms. A room that is acoustically sound enough to hold social events, Christmas plays and the regular quizzes or sports clubs. The village is not short of meeting places; it is short of good meeting places. It will need to be self-supporting and this leads my thoughts back to the Sunday nights when the village came together to watch cricket. Today it may be something entirely different but the hall will need to be open all day, accessible all week, and generating business through multiple activities. It needs to be so much more than a village hall. It is good to see that draft plan number two is in the dreaming.