107 years ago, in Mr. Maton’s field but 500 yards away from the current Loperwood Park, two teams representing the fledgling Calmore Sports Cricket Club played their first game.

On Sunday 19th September 2021, many a generation later, Mark Lavelle will lead that same club’s first XI down the steps and out of the most iconic sporting pavilion in the world and onto the hallowed turf of Lord’s Cricket Ground for the Final of the National Village Cup for what will be the biggest day in our club’s history.

It will be an incredibly special moment, not only for those eleven players but for their families, friends, colleagues, supporters, team mates, club mates and sponsors – and for those that had given them the cricketing bug in the first place and led them to this pinnacle of walking out at cricket’s HQ.

For some, it has been a short journey in the game but with a wealth of experience behind them in the forms of their ingrained Calmore mad families.  Max Bailey is just 18, Liam Carty only 20 and Matt Taylor a mere 23.  All three of them have cricket running through the veins in the shape of club legends Stuart Bailey and Adam Carty while Matt’s mum and club secretary Clare will be recording the game from one of the great vantage points of the ground, from just beneath the famous ‘Old Father Time’ as one of the official scorers.

Ben Johns made his debut for the first XI on the opening day of the 2013 season, scoring a magnificent unbeaten 122 against Tichborne Park aged just 15.  The club have played 132 Southern Premier League matches since that day – Ben has played in all 132 of them.  It is a quite remarkable record to have played for nine seasons straight and not missing a game but it is what makes Ben … Ben!

One player who has been to Lord’s on many an occasion is former Hampshire Cricket media officer Will Brewster.  He has overseen the media requirements for Hampshire against Middlesex and in various Cup finals but to be able to walk onto the field, without a lanyard around his neck, is something he never expected but his half-century in the 10-wicket semi-final win over Stoke Green gave him that opportunity and the newly married man will want to enjoy his post wedding even more than most.

And a Lord’s appearance is something that 29-year-old Steve Wright had not imagined would come his way either.  The left-armer had always dreamed of bowling from the Pavilion End, much like Steven Jefferies did for Hampshire in the Benson and Hedges Cup Final of 1988 – he will want to do his family, another steeped in local cricket history, proud on the day.

2021 has been a year that Ben Perry will remember and wish to forget in equal measure.  It has been a difficult year for him and his family but, thankfully, all is now well and he has a healthy second child that will be cheering him on as does a player with considerable experience, at Hampshire Second XI level and across many a club, Jimmy Manning.  His son, the livewire bundle of energy that is Fred, will be there and giving his Dad his full support on the day … after a day out at London Zoo and up the London Eye!

Two players who have been a vital part of this run to the final are Sam Moss and Yannick de Mezeries Lepervanche.  Both have done their bit, fielded with aplomb, bowled with heart and taken crucial wickets.  Key members of the larger squad, they have turned on performances when they were needed and they will be there, ready for action.

Which leaves just three.  Shawn Johnson came to the club on crutches when the Covid-delayed 2020 started, alongside his good friend Jono Maton.  He played one game in the Covid Cup but got the feel for the club and wanted to come and join, leaving Bexhill after a long association with them.  650+ runs and 19 wickets later, he has played a pivotal part in the success that the first XI have had this year, winning the Village Cup Player of the Round for his exploits against Paultons in round 2.

Bramshaw, Lymington, Bashley (Rydal), Totton and Eling, even briefly at Langley Manor – he loves a trip around the New Forest!  When he joined Calmore Sports in 2011, there was always a question about how long he would actually stay with us – there were a few more clubs around the region he hadn’t got a bit of stash from.  But he’s still with us, eleven seasons later and we love him!  He’s 42, his knees are in pieces but Mike West’s dream is about to come true by playing at Lord’s.  It will be the icing on his cricketing career cake and then some too.

And that leaves the man who will be leading the side out, 30-year-old Mark Lavelle.  A one club man, our club, his club, his Dad’s club, his Mum’s club, his brother’s club, the Calmore Lavelle’s.  You will not find a prouder man than him as he makes his way through the Long Room, his mates behind him, his friends in front of him in the stands, all wishing him well.

But he knows that he will be doing it, not only for those ten lads behind him, but also everyone that has gone before him.

He knows, they know, they will not be walking out alone as all of the forefathers that had preceded them will be there, in spirit in most cases but many in body around the stadium.

Would Calmore Sports be where they are now if not for the considerable hard work and effort, support and backing, drive and ability of a great many before them?  To the likes of Mark’s father Pete, Chairman of the Club since 2008, club President and former captain Steve Brandes, people like Terry Chilcott, Mike Bowring, Maurice Geary and Professor Peter Clark to name but a few from the more recent times – this is for you.

It is also for those who brought the club to their wonderful home at Loperwood Park in 1981 – John Newman, Mike Bowring, Peter Clark and Ron Stuttard.  And it is for the likes of former captains Darren Vann and James Rose, Bob Wilcocks, Gary Stinson, Billy Sims and the wonderful Gwen, Ray Hurst and his loyal sidekick Dot, to Stan Piper and Bill Maton way back in the post War years.

To the families who are indelibly marked through the history of the club – the Kellaway’s, Michael and Martin, the Stuttard’s, the Chilcott’s, the Newman’s – Michael, Martin and John, the Bowring’s – Mike, Paul and Iain, and latterly the Lavelle’s, the Perry’s and the Woodhall’s.

And we cannot forget the likes of Ron Merritt, Trevor Lawrence, the great Vic Loveless, Chick Chandler, Teddy Rolfe, Ben and Graeme Lyon, Vic Doggrell, Bob Dickinson, Eric Morgan and Baz Oram – the list is many and the club will be forever grateful.

There is a line in the report following the club’s first ever game which stands out.  “As we have previously announced a cricket club has started for this village, and it bids fair to be a success.”

So, to Mr. Louch the President, Mr. Othen the Chairman, Mr. Grace the Secretary and all of those who put down the initial marker on that Easter Monday in 1914, who enjoyed the smoking concert around the piano after the match was completed, we hope that you are looking down upon us at Lord’s with great delight.  “It bids fair to be a success”, they said … we hope that the eleven on the pitch and the hundreds in the stands are showing those words to be prophetic.

Calmore Sports Club will be walking through the Grace Gates at Lord’s on Sunday with gratitude aplenty to each and every one that has passed through our gates – whether it be at Hopkins Field, Paultons Park, King George V Playing Fields or our current home of 40 years, Loperwood Park.  Those eleven men wearing the tree and crossed bats on their shirts will be wearing it for all of those who have gone before and remember those who cannot be with us on our historical day – we have lost some amazing people over the last year or so, they will be in our thoughts as our flag flies over the ‘away’ dressing room.

Our little village club on the edge of the New Forest are going to Lord’s but our club would not be here without everyone who has been a part of it for the last 107 years.

Sunday at Lord’s is for you, for us, for everyone with the dark green and white in their hearts.

Let’s make it a day to remember forever more.  #FTM