By DAVID HILL
The Kaiapoi Cricket Club will soon be 150-years-old.
The club was established in October 1867 and is the second oldest in North Canterbury.
The jubilee celebrations will be held from Friday to Sunday, September 29 to October 1, beginning with a meet and greet at the clubrooms on Friday evening.
A 30 over cricket match will be played on Saturday between past and present players before a function in the Kaiapoi Club in the evening. A Sunday lunch will be held at the Kaikanui Tavern.
Club president Dean Arps says in the early days the club didn’t play many games because there weren’t many teams.
“They used to play Rangiora (which was founded in 1859) and occasional matches against town teams, but that was about it.”
In the 1890s the Ashley Cricket Association, which later became the North Canterbury Cricket Association, was established to organise regular match play.
Kaiapoi won its first senior club title in the 1899/1900 season, winning it two years in a row.
Dean says Kaiapoi played in the Christchurch club competition for about 10 years from 1914, before interest fell away.
The club was revived by club hero Theo Capstick, who led the club to win the North Canterbury senior title in 1930/1931 “and we haven’t missed a season since, although we haven’t always been in the top grade”.
Dean says Kaiapoi cricket’s heydey was in the 1970s and 1980s when the club won 11 North Canterbury two-day titles and five one-day titles. The club dropped out of the top grade in the late 1990s before gaining promotion in 2005 and winning two North Canterbury Twenty20 titles in the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons.
However, the club has not been able to qualify for the Canterbury Country premier grade since it was established. It has however, produced two Canterbury representatives – Russell Merrin who played during the 1960s and 1970s, and still holds the record for most wickets for Canterbury Country – and Brian Ford in the 1990s, and numerous Canterbury Country reps.
Other notable players include opening bat and wicket keeper Peter Williams who played for Kaiapoi for 25 years, represented Canterbury B and is now club patron and a life member, and former All Black Fergie McCormick who played for the club in the 1960s. Frank Rapley played cricket for both Kaiapoi and Rangiora.
Junior cricket was established in the club in 1970s, with several juniors going on to play for the seniors, Dean says.
Allan Turner coached the juniors during the 1990s and 2000s, starting out with his own three sons – two of whom went on to play for the senior team.
“There are a lot of other fathers who have been involved, but Allan stands out as he stayed involved while his boys were playing senior cricket and he was a mentor to young blokes who had played for him.”
Dean says the club has always been a family club, with three generations of Merrins playing the club and other notable families include the Blackwells, the Sincocks, the Capsticks, the McAllisters, the Williams, the Grays, the Aitkens, the Yellowless, the Hopkins and the Rodgers.