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Oakfield Parkonians – who?

15:10 29 May 2014

The sun rises over Oakfield Parkonians cricket club

The sun rises over Oakfield Parkonians cricket club

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Our latest blog from the local cricket scene

Last weekend should have seen the latest instalment of a long-running rivalry between Oakfield Parkonians and Harlow Town.

The inclement weather prevented any play, but the fixture provoked a discussion on the origins of the two clubs – Harlow Town were for many years known as Stort CC, and Oakfield have just this year changed their name from Old Parkonians.

The Old Parkonians Cricket Club was founded in 1906 by a group of former pupils of the Park Higher Grade School in Ilford, later to be re-named the Ilford County High School.

An excellent history of the club, up to its Centenary celebrations in 2006, was written by the late Vernon Thomas and a précis of this work can be read on the Oakfield Parkonians website {http://opcc.hitscricket.com/pages/page_9063/OPCCCentenary19062006.aspx}.

Times change, however, and the Cricket Club has in fact welcomed members who were not former pupils of the School since the mid-1980s.

The traditional links with the School have been maintained over the years - the annual Club vs. School game is now contested for the Centenary trophy, and several club officials are indeed Old Boys of the School.

In 1988, the club moved to its present home at the Oakfield Playing Fields, next door to the Redbridge Sports Centre and Fairlop tube station on the London Underground Central line.

Over time, the club has expanded to regularly field four teams every Saturday, hosting home games on the two squares at Oakfield and with a clubhouse facility on a par with the best in the county.

In 2014, the membership voted to change the name of the club to Oakfield Parkonians, in recognition both of our history and our future commitment to the area where we are based.

The club is very proud of the tradition of the Old Parkonians, and strives to maintain the standards of competitiveness and sportsmanship for which the club is known.

But the old name gave a false impression of exclusiveness, of “us” (former pupils) and “them” (any one else) which is simply not representative of the club today.

The success of the colts section, with players from a range of local schools, including ICHS, points the way forward for the senior club. As anyone who has seen a practice evening at the club, with upwards of 80 young players enjoying playing cricket will testify:

• We have members from all parts of the local community and all walks of life;

• We are not “old”;

• We have our home at Oakfield!

Here’s to the next 100 years!

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