Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 22nd May 2024

Time to be part of Bertie Joel Cup's rich history

Since 1967 the Bertie Joel Cup has been a feature of the club cricket calendar in London and the south-east, offering clubs a good chance to compete in the longer format, especially now with the temporary suspension of The Conference Cup. Entries are being accepted for 2015.

The Bertie Joel Cup, originally known as the Kemps Cup, was created by Joel – one of London cricket’s legendary characters – as a midweek, 45-overs knockout. After Bertie’s death in 1996, his widow Irene became patron of the competition until she too passed away in 2013.

Last year Bertie and Irene’s daughter Mandie Adams McGuire took up the mantle as patron, maintaining the unique family connection. The Cup supports the David Adams Leukaemia Appeal, set up by Mandie and for which she was appointed MBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The competition has maintained many of its traditions, including playing the final at a leading club ground and the multi-coloured tie worn by committee members, which includes a red stripe to symbolise ‘your eyes on the morning after the night before’.

However, the Cup has not been immune to the changes in the character of club cricket over recent years. Long gone are the three-figure entry lists of the 1980s, when the later rounds were drawn live on local radio. The competition now usually runs over four rounds and the final.

Many clubs have claimed problems raising midweek sides as the reason for pulling out, according to the competition chairman Colin Watkins. “In response we changed the rules to allow games to be played on Sundays if both clubs agree,” he said. A regionalised draw for the early rounds is designed to help reduce travel and cut the number of cry-offs.

The organisers have worked hard to dispel the notion that only ‘senior’ clubs are eligible to enter. “We welcome clubs of all standards,” explained Watkins, “so long as they can offer reasonable playing facilities and hospitality. From town to village, Bertie Joel loved cricket at every level, and our aim is to maintain the spirit in which the game is played.” Watkins hopes the Cup may offer a home to those clubs still keen to play longer-format knockout cricket.

Hampstead were the inaugural champions, since when the magnificent silver trophy has been won by clubs from seven counties. Until recently only Wimbledon in the mid-1980s managed to lift the trophy more than twice in a row – a record equalled when Cambridge Granta were victorious from 2006-2008 (and again in 2011).

Even that feat, however, is eclipsed by Waltham. Since 2003, the Essex club have notched up five titles, including the 2014 crown when they beat Shenfield. They have also twice fallen at the last hurdle – including one of the most extraordinary games in recent memory when, in the 2008 final, they were hustled out for just 27 chasing Cambridge Granta’s modest 157-9.

Watkins is rightly proud that the competition has survived to honour the memory of Bertie and Irene Joel. Along with thoughts about how to celebrate 50 not out, his hope is that the increasing diversity of cricket in the London area may now give the cup a fresh lease of life. “We are keen to attract new entrants who fancy the challenge of playing against a wide range of established clubs,” he said.

Any clubs interested are invited to contact Colin Watkins for more information and the rules of this historic competition.

Colin Watkins:  07711 20281807711 202818