Clifton Alliance Cricket Club had come up in conversation and been recommended a few times by those that know their cricket and it did not disappoint.
Ostensibly visiting York Cricket Club for The Cricket Paper, a growing stomach and rumours of a ‘proper cricket tea’ meant wandering over to CACC’s refurbished clubhouse was a no-brainer.
Clifton Alliance Cricket Club are celebrating 150 years having originally started out as Clifton Hospital CC back in 1867 and latterly merging in 1974 with Alliance Cricket Club.
Their firsts play in the top flight that is Yorkshire Premier League North while the seconds ply their trade in Hunters York & District Division 3 (Ebor) and thirds compete in Division 1 of the HPH Vale League.
Add in a Pilmore Evening League side and juniors from under nines through to under fifteens and though they have York CC as neighbours, Clifton Alliance are by no means in their shadow.
I was made welcome over at York but the ground didn’t capture the imagination as much as Clifton Alliance with its backdrop of doctors’ red brick cottages and ornate window features.
York actually has a number of mental hospitals that boast cricket grounds you’ll not regret taking the time to seek out with the Retreat Cricket Club off Heslington Road featured before on this website.
Clifton Alliance’s seconds were at home to Cawood first eleven and when we wandered over, Cawood had just been dismissed for 103 with Matthew Stephens something of a lone ranger with 51 off 94 balls for the visitors.
The wickets had been shared around though credit to Thomas Brown for his 3-6 off 7 overs; it’s a particularly prosperous harvest when walking off the field having blended both wicket taking acumen and a meagre economy rate.
We caught sight of the last few Cawood dismissals on the stroll over – a curving path from York’s main ground that runs past the rugby ground on one side and York’s second ground with horses standing idly by swishing their tails in the field beyond the far long off boundary.
Clifton Alliance’s home is perfectly framed by its wooden fence and a brace of substantial trees, one that sits just inside the boundary, and then the elevated embankment at its other boundary where walks can stroll and link up further along with the River Ouse.
We followed the players and umpires in for tea catching a glimpse up at the scorers checking their maths in the central glass fronted eyrie; a pair of gentlemen in specs sat workmanlike at a desk ruminating over averages and recordkeeping.
Inside, it was toasty, players milled about with plates tumbling with food and the air filled with laughter; conversations of the first act of this particular cricketing play mingling with other sporting chapters such as confirmation of York City’s relegation.
By a hatch by the door, tea was poured into mugs from a gigantic metal teapot believed to have come from the old hospital and doubtless with a few stories to tell if it could.
Now, I know I go on about cricket teas.
For my own appreciation as well as giving readers a rounded sense of a place, the food and drink are a character every bit as talked about as an umpire who didn’t give that plumb LBW or the bowler who was turning it miles out of the rough.
But seriously, if you do one thing this summer, go and eat a cricket tea at Clifton Alliance Cricket Club. I am prone to exaggeration at times I’ll freely admit, cake is in my DNA.
And yet…the range of home cooked food including the first time I’ve ever seen a heaving plate of cheeseburgers make a bow, needed to be seen to be believed.
Caroline runs her own catering company and her pork sausages filled with apple have to get on BBC primetime, that’s all I’m saying.
I am planning a Cricket Yorkshire Cricket Tea of the Year award and though it’s only a bite into the season, Clifton Alliance are already the frontrunners who will be hard to shift…ahem, I’m always open to invitations if your club has a story to tell and a cricket tea to wow.
Culinary kudos aside, Clifton Alliance is a club making things happen.
Their promotion from the York & District Senior Cricket League means they are involved with the top standard of league cricket in the county, they’re signed up as an Allstars centre for the launch of the new ECB initiative starting later this month and their ground and facilities can’t be faulted.
Though I didn’t meet them all, I suspect Clifton Alliance’s rosy outlook is down to the graft and imagination of their committee, coaches and volunteers so hats off to all of them.
I never did get round to ask why their logo is a goofy-looking green snake (more adder than anaconda) but that was the only mystery on the day as it’s obvious why anyone would want to come and play or watch a game of cricket here.
Check out the match photos below…
Cawood 103 (Stephen 51, Snook 3-32, Brown 3-6)
Clifton Alliance 104-1 (Hindle 66*)
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