A WEARSIDE sports club is to host a year of celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary – with an Easter extravaganza starting the ball rolling.
Hetton Lyons Cricket Club has enjoyed an “eventful and trophy-filled” innings since its launch in 1865, including major extensions to the ground, pavilion and clubhouse.
Now officials are hoping to bowl over cricket fans with a year of celebrations - starting with a Sportsman’s Evening tonight, followed by a Good Friday Gameshow and Quiz Day.
A Family Fun Day is also planned for Easter Monday, to be held in the clubhouse, featuring egg decorating, fancy dress contests, Easter bonnet parades and a host of other activities.
“The club has had a eventful and prosperous history, resulting in a healthy trophy cabinet. We want to celebrate with a number of events through the year,” said treasurer Trevor Walker.
Hetton Lyons started life as a cricket team in 1865, playing friendly fixtures until joining the Durham Challenge Junior Cup in 1888, followed by Durham County Junior League in 1893.
The club played as Hetton-le-Hole or Hetton between 1866 and 1878 - then as Hetton Lyons again from 1879, before amalgamating with Easington Lane Lilywhites Club in 1886.
“In 1893 the club organised the first recorded under 16’s tournament in the county,” said Trevor. “It was held at the Hetton Lyons ground, which was pretty basic at the time.
“But in 1894-95 the ground was extended by some 6,300 sq yards, the field was enclosed and a new pavilion erected.
“Unfortunately, the official opening was spoilt by the weather. A game planned against the then county champions, Philadelphia, for the event had to be cancelled due to rain.”
The year 1898 saw Lyons leave the county system and join the newly-formed North Durham League - marking the move in glorious style by winning the championship title.
A stint in the Durham Northeastern League followed in 1908, before a switch to the new Durham County League East Division two seasons later saw Lyons finish as runners-up.
“The following season Lyons won the East Division Championship after defeating South Hylton - the North East Division Champions - at Chilton Moor,” said Trevor.
Even World War One failed to bowl Lyons out - with the club winning the championship title in the first season of the newly-formed Durham Coast League in 1915.
Success then followed success from 1926 to 2000, with Lyons winning the first team championship title in the Coast League eight times and the County League twice.
Disaster struck, however, on Christmas Eve 1954 - when the club’s pavilion burned down. It took a year to re-build - with a shop, garage and scoreboard added later in the fifties.
The 1960s saw members and local businesses club together to purchase the ground from the Bowes Lyons Estate - finally paving the way for opening of an on-site bar in 1967.
And a lounge and gamesroom were added to the clubhouse in the 1970s, with a new building for a lounge/tearoom erected in 1979 with cash help from Tyne and Wear Council.
“This period was the most successful in our history,” said Trevor. “Between 1976 and 1985 Lyons won six 1st division, eight 2nd division and five 3rd division championships.
“The club also won numerous league and outside cup competitions and in 1977, 78, 79 and 1980 Lyons won all three senior division championships of the Durham Coast League too.
“Indeed, the first team had an unbeaten run of league games from August 1977 until August 1981 - 87 games without defeat - which is believed to be a county record.”
The winning continued after Lyons joined the Durham County League in 1990 and in 2000, when the club switched to Durham Senior League, the team finished as runners-up as well.
Promotion to the North East Premier League followed in 2005, but top flight success was short-lived. The 2006 season ended in relegation - with another promotion taking four years.
“In recent years the club has established itself as a North East Premier League member, finishing third in 2013 and second in 2014,” said Trevor.
“And, as well as senior sides having a rich history, there has been huge success for junior sides too - with the Under 13s being county and regional champions in 1997.
“The team included Stuart Walker, Liam Simpson and Gary Scott - who all represented Durham Academy - with the latter going on to play first class cricket for Durham County.
“Other players to have come through the ranks include Ryan Pringle, Graeme Welch, Shaun Birbeck and Ben Whitehead - who is currently part of the Durham Academy set up.
“The future of the club certainly looks positive - with up to 100 children aged five to 15 attending weekly coaching sessions and holiday camps.”
l Further details about the Easter events, as well as cricket training, is available by contacting 0191 526 2323.