Cricket club using charred cricket bails recovered from devastating fire as trophy during grand reopening

A cricket club destroyed by a devastating fire has risen from the ashes to rebuild an entirely new clubhouse from the ground up - and plans to celebrate with a trophy using charred bails saved from the wreckage.

By Daniel Sheridan
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:45 am

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Olcanian Cricket Club in Ilkley will throw open the doors of its new clubhouse when the building is officially opened on Sunday, May 22.

The open day will see an Olicanian Select XI and a team of overseas players from across the Aire Wharfe League compete for a trophy containing two charred cricket bails which have been mounted in oak and glass.

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The bails were retrieved from the wreckage of the club’s former pavilion and are all that remains of the former clubhouse and its contents following an arson attack in August 2019.

The match for the Olicanian Ashes will start at 1.30pm, with the formal opening taking place at 1pm.

Club president Mick Christopher said: “We’re delighted to be able to open the building to the general public. We’ve had enormous support from so many people and organisations during this difficult period and this is our way of saying thank you.

“We want people to come from far and wide to have a look at our new home and we hope they like what they see.”

The Olicanian Ashes trophy is the work of Ben Rhydding cabinet maker Brent Thompson who used the bails as the centrepiece for the trophy.

It was his way, he says, of supporting the club in its hour of need but, like the original Ashes, this new trophy will remain on English soil, whatever the result on the day.

“We’re grateful to Brent for what is a beautifully crafted trophy. This is the club’s first piece of new memorabilia. It will be staying firmly in the new pavilion, win or lose,” said Mr Christopher.

The open day will also feature Otley Brass Band which will entertain the crowd before play commences and, again, during the tea interval.

“It’s going to be a great day for all of us at the cricket club, and an emotional one. The clubhouse will be named the ‘David House Pavilion’ in memory of our former chairman who died in December. He won’t be far from our thoughts,” said Mr Christopher.

The same applies to the club’s main sponsor Tony Jefferies who also died during the winter.

Mr Jefferies, a former winner of the Isle of Man TT, was Olicanian’s main sponsor for many years and the new clubhouse bar is to be named after him.

The pavilion took around 15 months to build and cost more than half a million pounds.

The build was funded through a variety of donations, an insurance pay-out and some financial support from the England and Wales Cricket Board and Sport England.

Sue Redfern, from the ECB said: “In conjunction with Sport England investment we are delighted that Olicanians have been able to rebuild their pavilion.

"Upgrading their facilities to make them more flood resilient in challenging climate times and also embracing a design that makes the club more appealing for everyone within the Ilkley community means the club will have the opportunity to grow their activities in the years to come.

“We would particularly like to thank those volunteers who have worked tirelessly on this rebuild over several years. It is their hard work that has enabled this project to be delivered.”

The pavilion design is the work of Ilkley architect Bill Horsley. Addingham builder Nick Kenyon was the main contractor.