As our club is about to start a new chapter when we switch to the Mid-Essex league, we take a step back in time to the last time that this happened in 2000, when we moved from the now defunct Dagenham Post league to the Morrant league, a major step towards establishing Goresbrook as a serious club, the Morrant being a long established and well respected league.
At the time, the Morrant had just restructured from a one Division 1st and 2nd XI competition where everybody played everybody once, to two Divisions of 9 clubs in 1st/2nd XI competitions and we were to take our place in the 2nd Division, along with Theydon Bois, Pegasus, Ilford Catholics, Old Westcliffians, Fords, Eastwood, Britannic Lodge and Stort.
Our first fixtures were against Theydon Bois, the only time we played them in the league as they jumped ship to the Herts & Essex League the following season, and after an exceptionally wet April, both matches were low scoring affairs.
The 1’s captained by Scott Barwick, won the toss and elected to bat at the Annex and they were soon in trouble against Theydon Bois seamer Sartoretti, who whipped out star men Lawrence Walsh and Darren Ivory for ducks, Brook then consolidated around a typically dogged 51 ball 9 from Andy Livett, but although the middle order all got in, Scott Barwick, Barry Bristow and Richard Williams all fell in the teens to one of Theydon’s several South African’s Krynauw. Once the middle order disappeared, the tail followed, although not before last pair Paul Atkins and Wayne Messenger resisted for 30+ balls each, as Sartoretti returned to finish with 5-24, complimenting Krynauw’s 5-29, Goresbrook being bowled out for a paltry 96, ground out from 47 painstaking overs (games in those days were 100 over declaration affairs).
Meanwhile in leafy Theydon Bois, the 2nd XI had been inserted and were struggling in similar fashion. Crucially however, opener Graham White booked in for a tidy 30 to get Brook off to a reasonable start and then a middle order partnership between Dean Barwick (20) and skipper Dave Whisker (17), that featured plenty of bottom handed swinging and missing and breathless twos, or at least it does in my head…, threatened to take Brook towards what would have been a mountainous total of 150. Bois opener Mobray had other ideas however and by the time he’d finished a marathon unbroken stint of 18-5-37-8, Brook had subsided for 112.
At tea, both Brook sides would have been far from downcast, both XI’s being equipped with strong seam attacks that could exploit the conditions, however only one side would emerge victorious and it wasn’t the 1st XI.
If you could pick two bowlers to take advantage of a sticky dog of a pitch where scoring without hitting the ball in the air was difficult, the 2nd team duo of Jo Wilkinson and Dave Whisker would be high on your list and after a 5 over burst from Darren Robinson to take the shine off the ball, the two got to work in tandem to run through the Theydon lineup. Wilkinson finished with 5-27 from 14 overs, only yielding to Brad Winsley when the game was in the bag. At the other end Whisker snapped up 4-11 from 9 overs as the hosts were blown up for just 60, giving the 2’s the honours by 52 runs.
The 1’s were scarcely less well equipped, but with Paul Atkins struggling to find his trademark swing, Theydon were able to play to keep out the 1’s dangerous seam duo Scott Barwick and Richard Williams, as although the pair bowled 19 overs, 11 maidens for just 12 runs, they could only take one wicket as Mukhtar and Stols dug in. It took the introduction of spinner Lawrence Walsh for the wickets to fall (a common theme throughout the first 30 years of GCC cricket), but there was to be no prime-time for Walsh, as Bois got over the line in 39 overs, finishing on 97-5 for a relatively comfortable win.
Scorecards from the games are attached with the lineups described on the next two pages. Only 5 of the 22 players in those first games are still playing regular league cricket, although most are still in and around the club