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Pacific Cricket Club’s Happy Return

One of the capital’s most characterful cricket clubs will be making a welcome return to its spiritual home in 2013, writes Toby Chasseaud. 

Their name may sound suited to more tropical climes, but Pacific Cricket Club will actually be moving back to their north London roots when the English summer arrives.

In 2013 the Islington club will play home games at Alexandra Park as they aim to win the Middlesex & Essex Invitation League, having finished in second place in 2012 to rivals Chigwell.

For the past couple of seasons, Pacific had been playing their Sunday league games at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, which had good facilities but was too far from the side’s Islington heartland.

Pacific CC was founded in 1983 by Peter Hollman while he was working at Pacific Records, a music distribution company, with early fixtures played against other music industry names such as Rough Trade, EMI and Our Price. The club originally played at Tufnell Park before moving to the artificial wicket at Wray Crescent in Islington, where they played their first match in 1987. Wray Crescent is now the only remaining public access cricket ground in the borough of Islington after Tufnell Park was turned over to football a decade ago and the Finsbury Park ground became a baseball pitch.

Pacific still play friendly fixtures at Wray Crescent but the rules of the Middlesex & Essex Invitation League state that matches must be played on grass wickets.

Pacific CC founder Peter Hollman (left) with Conrad Chandler and James Smith
Pacific CC founder Peter Hollman (left) with Conrad Chandler and James Smith

Club founder Hollman said: “I am pleased to announce that Pacific will be hosting our league matches up the road from Islington at Alexandra Park. The wicket, hospitality and amenities are excellent and everyone in the club is looking forward to some fantastic cricket there.

“It was nice playing at Broxbourne for the past two seasons but, particularly with fewer players having cars these days, it is good for the club to be able to return closer to our historic roots. We hope that playing locally will help us to win the league this year and strengthen our position as one of north London’s most characterful cricket clubs.”

Pacific will share the ground, overlooked by Alexandra Palace, with Alexandra Park Cricket Club, which was founded in 1888. Australian batting legend Donald Bradman chose to make his coaching film How To Play Cricket at the ground during the Ashes tour of 1934. The new home ground provides some welcome relief for Pacific after a difficult 2012, when many fixtures were lost to rain.

The club lost one of its players in tragic circumstances in September 2012 when Peter Alexander, a talented photographer, died falling from a third floor window at a London Fashion Week party, aged just 28. Club captain Jon Webley said: “Pete embodied the Pacific spirit, with his unique brand of competitive cricket and loveable eccentricity. Between 2008 and 2011 Pete took 40 wickets for Pacific. As well as his contributions with the ball, he brought fiery passion to the game and was never afraid to say his piece. He will be sorely missed.”

In preparation for the new season, Pacific will hold indoor nets at Lord’s from February through to April, and the club will also be touring south-west France at the end of August 2013.

Pacific welcome new members and anyone interested in playing can email peterhollman.pacificcc@virgin.net

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