For today’s ‘blast from the past offering’ we return to 1998…
The opening game of the 1998 season was a Devon League B Division meeting with Stoke Gabriel that was played in South Devon on May 2.
Andy Nicholls and Derrick Foan launched the new league term with Nicholls scoring a single off the very first delivery. Nicholls was also the first wicket to fall, bowled for 14 and, after number three Chris Acton had been run-out for two, Foan fell for eight and, when Richard Foan fell for two, Bradninch were wobbling with four wickets down and just 31 runs on the scoreboard.
It was Mike Cliff, batting at five, that gave the innings any sort of impetus as he top-scored with 33 and number six bat Simon Bailey was the only other batsmen into double figures — he chipped in with 10 as Bradninch were bowled out for 100.
Mike Cliff and Richard Foan opened the bowling with the latter bowling 16 overs straight off for a 2-32 return while the most successful bowler was first change Chris Acton with 4-34 — also from a run of 16 successive overs. Andy Nichols was the only other bowler used as Stoke Gabriel recorded a six-wicket win.
Seven days later the B Division record was played two and lost two as Alphington departed Kensham Park with a seven wicket win under their belts
Batting first once again, Bradninch fared better than on day one, this time posting a score of 215-6. Chris Acton, at number three, top-scored with 57 while the other main contributions came from openers Andy Nicholls (21) and Derrick Foan (28) while number four Mike Cliff weighed in with 47.
However, the Alphas romped to an eight-wicket win. Seven different bowlers were used in an attempt to see an end to the knock of S Hinks who was finally out to a catch off Andy Nicholls, but not before he had scored 114. It was fifth change Andy Nichols who bagged two of the wickets (2-16 from three overs) while first change Paul Nott took 1-31 from seven.
That season it was a case of ‘third time lucky’ as the third game of the new season saw Chulmleigh beaten by seven wickets in a Haig Village Cup tie
Richard Foan (3-15), Andy Nicholls (2-3), Del French (1-28) and Tam Blair (1-5) claimed wickets as Chulmleigh were bowled out for 98. Opener Mike Foan then scored 18 and, along with unbeaten knocks of 22 from Rob Acton, and nine from Jon McKinnel, Bradninch got home inside 22 overs.
League match three produced a losing draw
Batting first, visiting Ipplepen were bowled out for 173. Simon Bailey claimed four wickets, Mike Cliff had three and there were two for Paul Nott.
However, Chris Acton’s knock of 75 from the number three slot was 61 runs more than the ‘best of the rest’ a contribution of 14 by Rob Head, as Bradninch reply limped to a close of 151-8 from 46 overs — Paul Hargreaves (10no) and Paul Nott (8no) made sure the team did not suffer a third successive league defeat.
Back-to-back league defeats followed to Abbotskerswell and Ashburton before a home game against touring side Druids
Bradninch batted first and scored 106. Mike Cliff (25), opener Will Dines (22) and Mike Foan (21) were the principle scorers. Will Dines then claimed 4-24 from a dozen overs and there were two wickets for Richard Foan as the touring side claimed a three-wicket
Rain denied Bradninch a first league win of 1998 when they were 53-2 (Charlie Stafford and Gary Newall were at the crease) following the loss of Andy Nicholls and Chris Acton — all this in reply to hosts Babbacombe’s score of 103 all out in 46 overs. Tam Blair had sent down 23 overs without interruption on his way to a return of 7-69.
However, that coveted first league win did eventually arrive on June 14 when Shobrooke Park were beaten by 73 runs
Andy Nicholls (49) and Charlie Read (36), together with knocks from Derrick Foan (25) and Simon Bailey (20) saw Bradninch to a close of 174-9.
All five bowlers used then claimed at least one wicket with the returns being: Richard Foan (3-27 from eight), Andy Nicholls (2-1 from 9 deliveries); Chris Acton (2-9 from eight overs), Paul Nott (2-29 from 16) and Will Dines (1-31 from 10). The very next league game was also won as Exeter St James were beaten by six wickets thanks to the bowling efforts of Simon Bailey (5-38) and Richard Foan (4-14) as the home side were bowled out for 102, passed for the loss of four wickets thanks to 31 from Charlie Stafford, 30 from Andy Nicholls and 21 from Chris Acton.
In other games that season:
Paul Nott (4-39 from 12.5 overs) and Chris Acton (3-11 from seven) helped bowl Stoke Gabriel out for 137, this after Rob Acton (46), Chris Acton (34), Will Dines (33no) and Derrick Foan (33no) had seen Bradninch close on 165-8.
Paul Nott also took four wickets in a five-wicket defeat at Abbotskerswell while Mike Foan top-scored with 62 as Alcester and Ragley were beaten in a midweek XI game — then ‘all-rounder’ Mike Foan also took 1-21 from a cameo spell of five overs.
Charlie Stafford and Chris Acton both claimed four wicket hauls in a six-wicket success at Ashburton — Acton had a fine all round game as he also top-scored with 44 and there was an unbeaten 29 from Richard Foan batting at number six.
The annual meeting with Stapleton that year saw a fine unbeaten 85 from Will Dines and an unbeaten 30 from Del French as Bradninch claimed a six-wicket win.
Dave Harvey and Les Kent opened the bowling in an evening meeting with Pinhoe — Sid Bastin picked up a wicket in this game and Robert Gitsham and Jim Foat opened the batting in an August meeting with Marine Southampton, putting on 48 for the first wicket as Bradninch recorded a seven-wicket win.
The final league game of 1998 saw Brixham beaten by six wickets on their own patch
Paul Nott sent down 16 overs for a return of 5-62 and second change Chris Acton returned figures of 4-26 as Brixham were bowled out for 162, passed for the loss of four wickets thanks to a knock of 89 from Chris Acton and 52 from Charlie Stafford – the pair coming together at 8-2 and not being parted until the score was on 137!