TWO years ago Uplyme and Lyme Regis Cricket Club – formed in 1885 – were close to folding through lack of finance.
They were struggling on and off the field, leading to the withdrawal of their 2nd X1, and had run out of money with a new roller to pay for.
The chairman at that time, Ian Thomas, launched an appeal to save the club and the community rallied round with great support from Lyme Regis Town Council, the Talbot Arms and former players.
Enough money was raised to complete the purchase of the roller with enough to put the club in a much more financially secure position.
Ian Thomas stood down as chairman at the annual meeting, having secured the club’s security of tenure for the pavilion, which was built by members back in the 1980s, on the King George V playing field.
Player Steve Batey took over as chairman and has injected a new spirit among members which has seen great improvement being made to the pavilion and a remarkable turn around out on the square.
Uplyme enjoyed a much better season last year and were confident they could challenge for honours in the Devon League this year to move up a level.
But then came the coronavirus pandemic and at one time it was feared there would be no recreational cricket this summer.
The Devon administrators got local cricket going again but not in a form we had seen before. They formed a number of four and six team mini-leagues based on the level at which clubs played last season.
Uplyme was placed in East E 3 (Tier 5) along with Honiton, Ottery St Mary 2nds and Axminster Town and with a number of new signings it was clear from their first game that they intended to make an impression.
Superbly led by Steve Batey, Uplyme won all four of their mini-leagues games to win a place in the play-offs.They topped the East E 3 (Tier 5) division with 112 points, 37 ahead of their nearer rivals Honiton.
Their great asset has been the strength of their batting line-up with Tyler Wellman scoring three consecutive centuries, a feat unknown in local cricket, which led to spectators flocking to the King George V playing field in unheard of numbers.
Batey has also been in glorious form with the bat, hitting 82 and 111 in earlier matches and Joe Elsworth, a new signing this season, joins in the run fest with 110 in the final mini-league match.
Yesterday, Uplyme were away to Feniton in the play-off for a place in the final – and again it was the skipper who led the way with a fautless 101. He was well supported by Tyler Wellman (32), Joe Elsworth (29) and Alfie Jacques (24) in setting a target of 242 for Feniton.
It was a total that the home team never looked like reaching, especially against the pace of the Uplyme bowlers. Batey completed a real skipper’s performance, finishing with bowing figures of 3 for 32, with young Jacob Maltby weighing in with 3-25 as Feniton were dismissed for 160, 82 runs short.
Uplyme, who have gained a great deal of national exposure this year in Wisden and Test Match Special in this very unusual season, will now meet Plymouth Civil Service in the final next Saturday (September 12th) and are hoping for a home venue.
If that is case they will attract a large crowd to the King George V to see Uplyme complete the transition from club in crisis to one of the most attractive teams to watch in local cricket.