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Brigands on Tour

As we look ahead to welcoming teams from around UK and overseas to Broadhalfpenny Down this coming season a look back at the Brigands Devon tours will stir a few memories.

Like most touring clubs it quickly became apparent that the aim was to see how well we were able to play in the Sunday match with an enormous hangover from the Club dinner the evening (and morning) before.

The first tour was in 1984 to Devon, playing United Services CC and Saints CC both matches at Mount Wise, the fine Naval ground at Devonport, now the home of Plymouth CC. The accommodation was at the Moorland Hotel on the edge of Dartmoor which had the heaviest beer-soaked carpet in the area - you waded to the bar.

A key figure of the first four tours was Don Rock our umpire. He was also a provider of much of the after-dinner entertainment after the Saturday match. Sadly, Don died suddenly not long after the 1988 tour and his family presented the club with a trophy in his memory to be played for between Brigands and Saints each year.

The first Memorial Trophy match was in July 1989 when Saints came to Broadhalfpenny Down and in a close-fought match Brigands won by two runs to become the first holders of the Trophy. In August, back on tour, Saints managed to hold out for a draw and did so again in 1990. Then in 1991 on a fine, sunny day at Devonport, with competition heightened, Brigands won by 8 wickets and retained the Trophy once again.

The Don Rock Winners 1991

United Services joined the growing number of clubs joining league cricket so having moved our accommodation to Horrabridge, Bridestowe CC became our Saturday opponents with the Saints Sunday match continuing until 1994 – but the Brigands never lost the Don Rock Trophy! As our hotel owners complained that Brigands kept all their staff up far too late on Saturday nights we moved again to Wilmington in East Devon and played village sides, Plymtree, Kilmington and Clyst Hyden. As more village clubs joined an increasing number of local leagues making opposition more difficult to find and our host at Wilmington voicing concern at late Saturday nights for his staff the Westcountry tours drew to a natural close, being replaced with a tour to Herefordshire - but that's another story!

Don's trophy, with his family's agreement, was awarded to the Brigands player of the season after the Saints matches ended until 2020 when it became the prize for the Brigands member making the greatest contribution to the Club each year.

The Don Rock trophy is today awarded to Brigands who make an outstanding contribution

Article written by Bryan Burns, April 2023

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