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Manderston Cricket Club celebrates 125th anniversary



By David FergusonBBC Scotland Selkirk

BBC Manderston Cricket ClubBBC

A cricket field and pavilion created in 1899

A Scottish cricket club in one of the most picturesque parts of the country is celebrating its 125th anniversary – but many people are unaware it even exists.

Manderston Cricket Club was created in the grounds of Manderston House, a stately home in the Borders near the town of Duns.

The estate dates back to the 17th Century but the mansion was completely rebuilt at the turn of the 20th Century.

A cricket field and pavilion was created in 1899, a couple of hundred yards from the grand entrance.

Kevin Waterhouse Manderston HouseKevin Waterhouse

Manderston House was completely rebuilt at the turn of the 20th Century

Under the ownership of the Palmer family, the category A listed building – with its famed silver staircase – has appeared in many TV shows and films, even playing Buckingham Palace in a Hollywood movie.

Cricket has remained a constant through the Palmer dynasty. The latest Lord Palmer, Hugo, is a leading racehorse trainer who manages the sizeable Cheshire stable of former England footballer Michael Owen.

Its weekend festival of cricket included a T20 match against Harrogate Druids on Friday night, a charity game on Saturday against the famous Lord’s Taverners charity team, and a youth festival on Sunday.

For long-time member Richard Thomson, the celebrations have been designed to help shift the club out of its wilderness.

Richard Thomson

Richard Thomson hopes the club can get a higher profile

“We are using the opportunity of the 125th anniversary to have a party and raise awareness of cricket in Berwickshire,” he said.

“And let the people in and around Duns, specifically, know that they have a fun, great social club.

“We’re very thankful to the Palmers for supporting cricket and while it’s not unique, it is unusual to have a cricket ground in the grounds of such a stately home.”

He said Manderston was well-known in the cricket fraternity and plays about 40 fixtures a season.

Cricket bats

The club plays about 40 games per season

“We’ve played all the Border clubs as well as clubs from Northumberland and further afield,” he said.

“But it’s not really on the map because you don’t drive past the ground, and we don’t have a bar – we only got electricity last year.

“So we are very much the lesser-known little brother of Borders cricket.”

He said now they hoped to get more people involved and also improve infrastructure.

Manderston Cricket Club

Many clubs are keen to play on Manderston’s picturesque grounds

“Once we’re on the map we can access funding better,” he explained.

“So this weekend is another step in bringing it all together.”

The club has produced its share of quality players, for years from one family – the Swans.

Willie served as Cricket Scotland president, and his son Richard – who captained Scotland – is current Manderston president.

The club also now has an antipodean feel thanks to former Auckland rugby player and cricketer Hayden Martin, who came to Berwickshire nearly two decades ago to play rugby and is a former president.

Hayden Martin

Hayden Martin, pictured with son Ollie, has helped give the club a “Kiwi flavour”

“I turned up about 18 years ago and everyone was standing around with their cups of tea, and straight away I saw that there was a different culture in Scottish cricket,” he said.

“We’ve brought in a bit of the Kiwi flavour, and now there’s music and there’s always a beer, and barbecue.

“It’s such a beautiful ground that we don’t travel often because so many clubs want to come and play here, so we get to meet a whole lot of people from all over the country.”

He too hopes the anniversary celebrations can open up the club and break down some stereotypes about cricket.

“Our recruitment strategy for the last 20 years I think has relied on members having children,” he said.

“So I think we need to generate more interest and really give local youth more options to play sport in the summer, because that’s what communities need.”

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