Glenrothes Cricket Club's origins lie partly in the unlikely setting of the Caribbean. The organised game came to the town with the help of one Edwin Headley. Of West Indian extraction, he was a teacher at Leslie Primary School and later Auchmuty High School with a passion for the thwack of willow on leather.
He was among the founder members who turned up at the Auchmuty Community Rooms on Friday 17 th May 1957, to help give birth to what would become the first sporting club set up in the town.
Also among those enthusiasts that day was a 14 year old called John Bell. Still playing to this day, and the only original member still active. A club in Largo had become defunct shortly beforehand and we picked up their equipment, while other members brought along bits and pieces although fairly basic. The club originally used John Dixon Park in Markinch because there was nowhere suitable in Glenrothes at that time. Five matches were played, four of which were lost and one drawn. Glenrothes historian, Keith Ferguson once noted of the club that it was "always active although struggling against a hostile environment, persevering against the odds of the weather, uneven pitches and official disbelief that Scots should want to play such a game".
His words may have been well founded.
Five of the first seasons games were rained off, while the clubs presence at Dovecot Park in Glenrothes, where it took up residence in 1958, was not always given the respect it should have been due. On one particular day in 1964 as usual things were being prepared for a game, they turned up and noticed that a six foot high perimeter fence had been built round the football pitch. At that time, it was used by Glenrothes Juniors and the football authorities had decided that you had to have this fence, but it wasn't particularly conductive to our needs!
The following year, after a series of "stormy" meeting with the Council authorities, the club moved to Carleton Park in Woodside Precinct, not yet the home of Glenrothes Rugby Club and finally settled at Riverside Park, its current ground in 1970.
They played for a year without a pavilion, changing and having teas in Carleton Park an arrangement which had to be repeated some years later (1992) when the pavilion was burnt down. The club eventually existed for two seasons in a portacabin and 40 feet metal container and brewed tea on the back of a lorry.
The club joined the East of Scotland League Division Three in 1978, were promoted at the end of the season and have remained part of the East League structure ever since.
The club made a foray into hiring a professional in 1989, taking on the South African player Mark Mitchley, who joined the club during a period of transition. Seeing so many promising youngsters coming through, he gave the much needed support and coaching to see these youngsters develop to eventually produce polished performances.
Mark was given a chilly introduction to the Scottish game. John Bell commented "it was his first match for us, quite early in the season, early May. We were at Largo and it started to snow, he had never seen snow before!!!!"
Since then we have had an Indian professional (Saikia), and several South African amateur's (Rowland Thompson, Tiro Madiseng, Casey Arnold and Jason Scott).
It appears that the club will remain at the Riverside Park for the foreseeable future despite much investment up at Gilvenbank. Prior to the demise of the Glenrothes Development Corporation who spent £20,000 in laying a new cricket square and an application to the National Lottery was rejected.
Profile of John Bell
Having now celebrated our 50th year, there is one person who has, as they say seen it all, done it all and has even got the t-shirt!!! Giving undivided loyalty and total dedication to one club for over 50 years (and counting!!) is no mean feat. He is of course no other than John Bell. He has done it all, scored a 100, taken a hattrick or three, 9 wickets in a match and catching the other wicket to fall off the bowling of Bill Ramsay. John has covered most positions on the committee and is still involved in his role as the Ground Convenor.
John was born on the 25th April 1943, he was a founder member albeit at the tender age of 14. He failed to play any matches at the original ground in Markinch. The next move to Dovecot Park saw John play only a few games during holidays, as he joined the Civil Service in Newcastle. He retired from the Civil Service in 1995 and began working in the local job centre until again he retired in 2005.
On the bowling front John and Bill Ramsay were an awesome opening pairing and in the early days prior to limitation of overs for bowlers John would regularly bowl from start to finish in a match. It was a regular occurrence for John to take over 100 wickets in a season, his best performance was 9 for 25 against Nairn's from Kirkcaldy. Nairn's were all out for 40 and John took a catch for the other wicket!! He has also had some success with the bat, making a century in a match against Perth Mayfield at the Doocot Park in Perth.
John also enjoyed many memorable tours, for normal he was recognised as being a fairly big hitter. One match in particular being the last match of a Bristol tour against Long Ashton. Needing 6 to win with only one ball remaining and with only one wicket remaining the opposition wicket keeper bet John a pint of beer that he could not hit a six into the pavilion to win the game. John duly obliged to win the game and of course his bet!!
Hopefully John will continue to support the club both on and off the field for many years to come!!
Your name doesn't have to be Bill to become a life member of Glenrothes Cricket Club, but it certainly helps!! The club currently has five life members and by coincidence three of them are called Bill.
Firstly Bill Philp, who was one of the original members of the Club. Formerly with Largo Cricket Club, Bill was a stalwart of the club in the sixties and the early seventies. He held most of the offices in the club at one time or another, and on the field was a medium paced bowler of substantial guile who routed many strong batting line-ups in his time!
Second is Bill Pearson, who joined the club in the early seventies. Formerly with Blairgowrie Cricket Club, Bill retired from the game in the early eighties. His contribution didn't stop there however, and his coaching prowess had a significant influence in the success of out colts in the mid-eighties.
The last Bill but by no means least is Bill Ramsay. This Bill arrived at the club from the defunct Rothes Cricket Club in Leslie (via a year with Dunnikier). For over 35 years Bill has been a jack of all trades for the club. As well as being involved on the park he has also been heavily involved off the park, even to this day!! Many an opposition team will rue the day when they have under-estimated his medium paced offerings around the wicket from the pavilion end at Riverside Park. His ability with the bat has also staved off many a threatened batting collapse. Since he stopped playing we have been deprived of the familiar sight of Bill, as treasurer, arriving at Riverside Park, complete with "poly bag" and clipboard in the vain hope that someone might actually pay their subscription!!
Mention of the name Ramsay would not be complete if we overlooked Bill's late wife Maureen who never played a single match but managed to "score" more runs for Glenrothes than anyone is ever likely to do. For many many years Maureen was a familiar sight home and away with brief case and travelling rug (and occasionally sun cream). Her book was always immaculate and anyone who queried their score soon knew not to do it again!!!
Sadly Maureen passed away in November 2006, she will be sorely missed by all at Glenrothes Cricket Club, Saturdays will never be the same.
The final 2 life members were both inducted during the 50th Anniversary season in 2007. Ian Cadden and Davie Christie, Ian is a former top order batsman for the club and indeed remains one of the top batsman in the clubs history. Davie Christie, ex-freuchie star and village cup winner has a close association with Glenrothes and has played a vital part especially in recent years with assistance on the Town Park square.