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June 25th 1898: A lawn tennis club has been formed, and the opening matches will take place in a few days

April 11th 1914: At a meeting of the Bowling Club in the National School, the Vicar presided the Hon Sec Mr G H Pullen, made a statement of the formation of the Club, and read letters from well-wishers, among whom were Mr Cutcliffe (Dawlish), Messer Ian Amory M F H Cottrell (Hon Dec Tiverton Bowls Club) and W Howe (South Molton Bowls Club). It was decided that bona fide working men of the parish should be allowed use of the green during the evenings on payment of two pence.

Witheridge Association Football Club was founded just after the 1914-18 war, and played on various fields before coming to rest on the present-day sports field.

Until 1977 there was no sports field. Children's play was catered for in the Merryside Field given by Miss Mansfield for Witheridge and Thelbridge. Football and cricket had to make do with whatever was available. After the 1939-45 war football was played in a field at Chapner and later on one of the Cannington fields. There was a cricket club in the late forties and out at Cobley Farm, near Three Hammers, Raymond Body started his own club. Being of an independent cast of mind, he called the club The Incorrigibles. In 1950 the two clubs combined. Many years before the war the County Council had bought the field known later as the Sports Field. Their purpose was to use the site for a new school, a fire station and a police house. All these things they did, and by the seventies the rest of the field was redundant. Others saw it as a potential sports field. The County sought to maximise their asset by seeking residential planning permission. Led by the Parish Council opposition was staunch and well organised, and the refusal of the Water Authority to pass it on sewage grounds won the day for Witheridge. Part of the school area was licensed to the Sports Field Committee, so that a full size football pitch could be fitted in along the Appletree Close hedge and a cricket square in the middle. A building was obtained and opened as a pavilion in 1977. Hundreds of football and cricket matches had been played there. In 2002 a new pavilion was constructed by a great local effort, with no assistance from the Lottery or any other grant source. It is something to be proud of, and is home of a Sports Club, whose membership was made open to all, whether sports people or not. Cricket and football have not been the only sports played in the village. Outdoor bowls thrived from the twenties to the sixties, with a quality green, pavilion and flagpole. There were many good bowlers, including some of county standard. But the land was not owned by the club and was eventually sold to create the top part of Appletree Close. Also sold at the same time was the land of the three tennis courts, which lay between the bowling green and the Manse. One court was a touch unpredictable, but the other two had a good surface, well kept with the help of the original pony roller. Members replaced the pony, but the pony boots remained in the shed for years. In the seventies the bowling tradition was revived by Short Mat Bowls in the Parish Hall, which had proved popular and enduring. Badminton has been enjoyed there, and the hard tennis court nearby. Also, skittles, pool and darts teams have thrived in the pubs and Club. Stag and Fox hunts and the Beagles (based at Cannington Farm) have long been part of the scene, until interrupted by Foot and Mouth in 2001.

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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