MALAGA CRICKET ASSOCIATION
Founded, 17th August 1986
CRICKET HISTORY OF MALAGA
Cricket in the Province of Malaga was founded by a Yorkshireman. Mr. Thomas “Gordon” Samuel; a Fuengirola Resident and an ardent Cricket lover. Starved for his beloved Cricket, Gordon was able to get the game off the ground after reading an article from a group of East Anglians wishing to play some pre-season games in warmer climates; published in “The Lookout” (an English Monthly Magazine for Spain) in 1984.
After a Six months search to find a flat, grassed piece of land; he organised the first match to be played amongst foreign residents, at the “Polideportivo”, in Arroyo de la Miel, Benalmadeña Costa, in March 1985. It was his “Love for the Game” as well as His drive; in combination with his supportive wife, Rita, a brilliant hostess; and continued no-nonsense enthusiasm that started and continued the ball rolling for Cricket in Malaga(and indeed Spain). Gordon formed the “Costa del Sol Cricket Club” which is the first Official Internationally recognised Cricket Club in Kingdomof Spain. He hosted an Annual Cricket Festival with the Lowestoft Cricket Club of East Anglia which took place every year in April from 1985 until declining health forced his retirement from all duties in 1998.
As 2nd Chairman of the Malaga Cricket Association (MCA), in the “Committee Room” nothing was conducted unless all business was according to regulations. Even in retirement his knowledge and advice was regularly sort by newly elected Association Committees (both MCA and Spanish Cricket – A.E.C). He was a stickler on principles and procedures and an honourable man who has not received the “recognition deserved” for all that has been achieved due to his hard and dedicated service which has put Spanish Cricket where it is to date. Where he stood out most and deserves the highest accolade and honourable mention was for the manner with which the Code of Conduct, Dress Code, Principles and Decorum required and expected when playing the Great Game of Cricket. Nothing short of “correct cricket” principles and practices were tolerated regardless of the standards or quality of conditions under his administration. “It’s just not Cricket” meant “It’s just not Cricket” so change it and immediately. Announcements of all Match Fixtures arranged in the Newspaper advising the public that a Game or League Schedule was arranged always ended with…..”Player’s Requirements…. Whites to be Worn…..all disputes to be settled out of Court”. Non-compliance meant no game for the individual or individuals or even if it meant no game at all. A Great Man
In April 1985 Mr. Ian Malcolm Smith (the then British Vice-Consul in Malaga), co-ordinated with Gordon to put up a local team to play against passengers of the P & O Liner Canberra when it docked in Malaga, which included such notable names as Ray Illingworth, Tom Graveney, Colin Milburn, Richard Hutton and BBC Cricket Correspondent Christopher Martin-Jenkins. It has to be noted that Ian’s roll was by no means a small one in the development of Cricket in Malaga. Although a very quiet, kindly man; With assistance from his daughter, Eleña Jose Smith, a Lawyer, his behind the scenes work was of tremendous value for the Official Spanish Registration and recognition by the Junta de Andalucia, of the Malaga Cricket Association. Ian was a Committee Member of the MCA and also the co-founder and 1st President of the Malaga Cricket Umpires Association (MCUA). His stately presence and manner was a great influence on the Young Cricketers when addressing the teams prior to meeting and greeting the players prior to all Official Junior Matches. He was supportive of all Cricket in the Region. His guidance as a trained Diplomat had a rippling effect and embraced all with whom he came into contact. A Genuine Gentleman.
The Indian influence
In April 1985, a group of Indian Businessmen from the Town of Torremolinos, calling themselves “Baggies X1”, entered the scene playing against Gordon Samuel’s Costa del Sol X1. And by the end of a three match series against the Indians, played at the Torremolinos Beach Club Hotel; the foreign residents playing cricket were now large enough for the formation of a second team (Fuengirola CC), branching off from Costa del Sol CC (the first official ICC Registered club in Malaga and indeed Spain). It also has to be noted that as well as some good cricketers on show, “Baggies X1” also provided great mouth watering delights and fantastic support, which made them extremely popular opponents and subsequentially great cricketing friends.
Also in April 1985, Mr. Gregory Peter Gomez, a very talented Cricketer/Administrator (son of former West Indies Player/Captain and Cricket Administrator, Mr. Gerry Gomez) entered the scene, teamed up with Gordon and Ian and galvanised the game in the region.Cricket in Malaga grew in strength and rapidly, due to the arrival of this young, extremely hard working, very talented and energetic West Indian from Trinidad & Tobago; and a resident of Los Boliches.
By August 1985, seeing the potential for Cricket Development in this Region and indeed Spain (given the all Year round climate and closeness to the UK), Greg travelled to England to seek guidance, support and requirements for gaining International Recognition for Cricket in Spain.
West Indian Connections
With endorsements and introductions from the West Indian Cricket Control Board (W.I.C.C.B) (President) Sir Jeffrey Stollmeyer and Mr. Gerald Gomez (father) – Trinidad & Tobago, Sir Allan Rae and Jackie Henkeiks – Jamaica, Captain Peter Short, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Clive Walcott – Barbados and Clive Lloyd – Guyana; the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Council (President) Mr. Alloy Lequay, the Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Academy (Director) Mr. Derryck Murray and Queen’s Park Cricket Club, (President) Sir Maurice Corbin – Trinidad & Tobago;
International Cricket Conference (ICC) and Lord’s
Greg was invited to the Lord´s Cricket Ground for meetings with the International Cricket Conference (ICC) (Lt. Col. John Stevenson), the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Sir Colin Cowdrey) ) and the National Cricket Association (NCA) (Mr. Keith Andrew).
Meetings were also conducted with Surrey County Cricket Club (Mr. Stuart Surridge), The BBC and The International Cricketer Cricket Correspondent (Mr. Christopher Martin Jenkins), Wisden Cricket Monthly and Daily Mail Cricket Correspondent (Mr. David Frith), The Club Cricketer and Cricket World Magazine Correspondent (Mr. Michael Blumberg) and The Cricket Society and The Lord’s Taverners (Mr. Christopher Box-Grainger).
Greg arrived back in Malaga to a hero’s welcome with “The Guide Lines”, endorsement and encouragement from the World Cricketing Authority (ICC) for International Recognition. Together with Gordon and Ian, these three gentlemen set about the formation of a Cricket Association (using the Gibraltar Cricket Association & W.I.C.C.B Constitutions as a guide) to put in place an organised body for the Control and growth of Cricket in Southern Spain (and sub-sequentially for all Spain). There were of course many others who from time to time got involved, but these three men were the main foundation for the implementation of all the ICC Guide lines for International recognition.
Mr. Cricket in Spain.
To the Cricket Fraternity “On and Off the Field” in the Malaga Region and indeed Spain, Greg Gomez was everything – Cricketer/Administrator/Coach/Groundsman; “Mr. Cricket in Spain” was the accolade bestowed upon him by the Press in the Spanish, British & International Cricketing World; through “Lookout Magazine” and “Sur in English” (Locally); “The Club Cricketer Magazine”, “The Cricket Society”, “The Lord’s Taverner’s” (UK); “The Cricket World Magazine”, “Wisden Monthly” and “The Cricketer International” (World Wide).
As a fully qualified National Cricket Association (NCA) Junior and Senior Cricket Coach, Greg set up a Cricket Clinic for the English International Schools along the coast in the Provinces of Malaga and Cadiz; organised a Junior league and competitions, including Junior representative matches against the Gibraltar Association National Under 14 and Under 18 Teams.
Under the auspices of “The Gregory Gomez Cricket Clinic”; the game was introduced to 5 schools as well as in the Townships of Los Boliches and San Pedro, to introduce the game to Spanish Nationals, with Soft Ball (an MCA Indoor Cricket version adapted by Greg to be played on Tennis Courts) in Boys and Girls age groups at Under 18, Under 15 and Under 13 divisions. It was the biggest introduction to Cricket in Schools in Spain and set the tone for the games popularity amongst the Junior’s with youngsters from 27 different Nationalities identified.
Junior Hard Ball Cricket, at start up, was played only by Zone (East and West) and Malaga Cricket Association Representative Squads at Under 18 and Under 14 levels, were selected to play regularly against the Gibraltar Junior National Teams. After which in 1987, the first ever Junior Under 14 League got underway with 5 Teams namely: Sunny View School (Torremolinos); Fuengiroal CC Under 14’s; Aloha College (Marbella); Calpe College (San Pedro); Sotogrande International School; (Sotogrande) and Combined Colleges CC Junior Under 14’s; with Inter Zone matches forming the basis for selection the Under 14 Select X1 again against Gibraltar. The Under 18 players became inducted firstly to Combined Colleges Cricket Club Men’s Team and there after also to the other Senior Clubs (Sotogrande CC, Mijas CC and Costa del Sol CC) all following the guide lines of the International Cricket Conference (ICC) to fulfil International recognition for Cricket in Spain.
Through the schools, Greg formed a Club called the Combined Colleges Cricket Club (CCCC), made up of Parents, Teachers, Students plus a few friends; adding a fourth team to the playing ranks. And, in so doing also instigated the formation of Mijas CC and Sotogrande CC; through yet more parents and friends.
Every year during the month of November, Greg Gomez hosted the Celebrity Cricket Week with The Cricket World X1 from UK (Mike Blumberg’s Nomads Touring Team) and Gibraltar Cricket Association as visitors with the highlight match being the “Celebrity X1”. Celebrities invited to play had to either own property or reside in Spain, with the likes of Ray Illingworth (who hit Six 6’s in an over in his first appearance before accepting the position of Manager of the English Test Team), Mr. Lew Hoad (Wimbledon Tennis Champion) who also become President of Costa del Sol CC, William “Bath Bill” Lye (Rugby), and Mr. Don Hackie (World Figure Skating Champion) to name just a few.
As a player, Greg Gomez established all the records to be broken with Bat and Ball; Captaining the MCA Representative Team and Combined Colleges Cricket Club. On Spanish Soil, the record (at that time (1985 to 1898) Most Successful Captain for Club (which still remains the most successful Cricket Club in all of Spain) and for Malaga Region; most Centuries, Best Batting Average; Most Wickets, Best Bowling average, first Hat Trick (and the list goes on and on). In the Gibraltar league, his Average stands at 168 (his highest score being 196 not out (scored in 27.2 overs of a 40 over game against the Army at Europa Point), a record that still stands to-day).
When approached by the Mother’s of the youngsters under his guidance about the lack of opportunity for the Ladies to “Have a go”; Greg arranged a four month “Ladies Cricket” Course for the Mother’s, Daughter’s and Female Supporters along the Coast from Sotagrande (Cadiz) to Torremolinos (Malaga). Two epic battles (The Provinces – Malaga vs Cadiz) took place at the Sotogrande CC Ground in October 1998. The Girls Under 15 Game was followed by the Ladies Match which is the first recorded organised competitive Women’s Cricket played in Spain.
Note; A third Ladies Cricket Match was also played in Malaga at “The Grass Europa” Cricket facility in 2004 between the Provinces of Malaga and Cadiz.The teams were made up of Ladies from the Los Boliches Junior Cricket Supporters Club of Fuengirola and the Ladies of Sotogrande.
The Malaga Cricket Association’s Formation
On 17th August 1986, the Malaga Cricket Association was formed. Chairman: Mr. Gregory P. Gomez, Treasurer: Mr Norman F. Ross, Secretary; Mr. Thomas G. Samuel, Committee Members: Mr. Ian M. Smith, Mr. Mike Biggs and Mr. Ashok Khiani. The Clubs under it’s umbrella being Costa del Sol CC (formed in 1985), All Indian CC (formed 1986), Fuengirola CC (formed 1986) and Combined Colleges CC (formed 1986); playing annual April and November Festivals, in the Malaga League and Representative Cricket against Gibraltar Cricket Association (through Tom Finlayson (Senior Level) and Mr. Willie Scott (Juniors) a link that was crucial for both Associations at the time; Malaga needing good facilities to play on, to continue it´s growth; and in Gibraltar, the British Armed Forces were down scaling their numbers on the Rock which reduced the Forces from three teams to one Combined Services team, which left Gibraltar short of playing teams).
In less than three full years, the achievements and the momentum in the Province of Malaga alone were so impressively far ahead of all the guidelines set forth by the International Cricket Conference, in that, by showing that the game had a solid infrastructure and the game was being played at Senior and Junior Levels and Spanish Nationals were being involved in the game, all in accordance with the I.C.C dictates. The only stumbling block was that the Malaga Cricket Association was not a National Governing Authority. Once again Gordon, Ian and Greg set about to address the new directives of the I.C.C in order to attempt to achieve International Cricketing Status, this time for the Kingdom of Spain.
The Spanish Cricket Association
During the Annual 1987 November Festival, a “Steering Committee Meeting” was convened on Wednesday 25th November for the Official Formation of the Spanish Cricket Association (now know as Asociacion Española de Cricket; A.E.C), The I.C.C Official Representative at that meeting was Mr. Joe Buzzaglo (Chairman, Associates Members of I.C.C); On the day, a first “All Spanish Clubs X1” took part with players selected from Malaga, Madrid and Ibiza. The initial work for the A.E.C´s Constitution and formation is accredited to Greg Gomez, who reached out and pulled together all the known Cricketing activity scattered throughout Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza and Menorca. The formulisation work for the International recognition of this Association at ICC Board Room Level on the English end was done by Mr. Christopher Box-Grainger (Hon. President) and he, along with Mr. Gordon Samuel (Chairman), Mr. Ian Smith (Hon. Vice President), Mr. Greg Gomez (Secretary/PRO) and Mr. Clive Woodbridge (later, Chairman/Secretary), are the principles for ensuring in those early years that that Association’s infrastructure was sound and remained that way.
Also in 1987 Mijas CC, Nerja CC (which only lasted one season) and Sotogrande CC were formed, Mijas CC taking over Fuengirola, including new members from the Mijas area. Sotogrande CC expanding from Combined Colleges CC.
In that year, Sotogrande CC became the first Club to have a recognised Cricket Ground, due to the generosity of Mr. Ian Bateman, a land owner, who made the ground available. Mr. Gordon Samuel and his Costa del Sol CC, became the second Club to secure a Cricket Ground when Mr. Samuel negotiated the laying down of a concrete strip at the Torremolinos Beach Club Hotel, turning that ground from football into cricket.
In 1988 the two festivals (Gordon Samuels Costa Del Sol CC’s April week with the East Anglians and Greg Gomez’s Celebrity November week (with Mike Blumberg´s Cricket World Magazine X1) were still going strong and were to last for a period of 10 years; the MCA and Clubs were also entertaining many visiting teams. And the MCA league was now attracting Five teams.
In 1989 Combined Colleges CC (MCA Champions in 1987,1988, 1989 and 1990) participated in the Gibraltar League, a first for Spanish Clubs, finishing second and then on to win the Gibraltar league in 1990, and joined by Sotogrande CC as the second Spanish Club to play in Gibraltar in that year.
1991 saw another Spanish team entering the Gibraltar league in the form of Mijas/Costa CC (a combination of Mijas CC and Costa del Sol CC), with Combined Colleges CC again Winners.
1992 also saw Combined Colleges emerge as winners of the Malaga league and “The Spanish Clubs Championship” making them the most successful Club in Spain, by virtue of having won every Trophy at stake. This continued success was made possible due to the administration capabilities of Mr. Clive Woodbridge (who took over the reigns from Greg Gomez) ensured that the infrastructure of the Club (as well as the MCA and the AEC) remained watertight with brilliant management.
1992 saw the arrival of the Cartama Oval, provided by Mr. Mike Symons, and was described as the most picturesque ground in Europe. Visited by many overseas teams including the MCC, it looked as if Cricket had taken serious root. But the strains were being felt and the cracks were appearing.
By 1993 Malaga had gained a new team in Marbella CC but lost the All Indian CC, keeping the total at five teams. Marbella CC (who also had for a short time a ground in the Marbella area) kept the Malaga Flag flying by winning the Spanish Clubs Championships in 1994.
With the losses of Mr. Gordon Samuel & Mr. Ian Smith (retiring), Mr. Chris Box-Grainger (ill health to UK), Mr. Greg Gomez (to Oil work in Scotland), and Mr. Clive Woodbridge (relocation to Alicante (Alfas del Pi)) from the Malaga region cricket began the suffer. The Clubs were finding it increasingly difficult to put out full teams. The ground in Torremolinos was given up to a housing development. The ground in Sotogrande was swallowed up by the new “Euro” Road construction programme and when in March 2000 the ground in Cartama was sold; Cricket in Malaga was now in crisis.
Mr. Clive Woodbridge.
Clive moved to Southern Spain (Sabañillas) in 1988 and became involved in Malaga Cricket when introduced to Combined Colleges Cricket Club. It soon became extremely apparent that Clive was a brilliant, gifted man when it came to management and organisation, and he was soon seriously involved with management of Combined Colleges CC, Malaga and Spanish Cricket Associations with supreme dedication. Unfortunately for Malaga Cricket but great for the Spanish Cricket Association, with the passing of his wife, Clive relocated to the Alicante Region to Alfas del Pi and with him went the Spanish Cricket Association and under his direction the future of the Spanish Cricket Association is recorded in great detail since.
From 2000 and up until November 2003, no Cricket was played in Malaga. Under the organisation and efforts of Mr. Allan Dens, Mr. Mik Smyth, Mr. Fernando Shard and Mr. Steve White, a group of Cricketers formally from the original Clubs (Combined Colleges and Marbella CC) and some new recruits, kept the flame alight by playing in the Gibraltar League under the name of Malaga CC. It is a credit to these gentlemen that the Cricket flag still flies.
(Many thanks to Greg Gomez for sending this detailed description of the History of Cricket In Malaga)