The Seevent 60+ County Championship
In 2003 a number of ageing cricketers who were disillusioned with club cricket and still wanted to play competitive matches set about doing something to fix the situation. Brief research showed that there was scope for an over 60s competition, so the idea of a 60+ Championship was born.
Hertfordshire, Essex and Surrey joined Kent and Sussex in a new venture for 2004 with the rules based on those used by the over 50s ECB Championship, modified slightly to permit two 59 year olds. Essex and Sussex were the strongest teams in those early years.
By 2006 Suffolk and Norfolk joined to increase the competition to seven counties. By now many counties, even if not playing in the Championship, had a regular list of friendly games and this encouraged Worcestershire and Berkshire to join in 2007. As interest spread more cricketers aged 60 and over were discovered and the age cut off was recast.
Further afield Yorkshire sought to join for 2008. Travelling distances were something of a problem with no other Midlands/Northern counties in the competition so their application was deferred for 12 months. Bad weather in that year meant the final could not be completed so for the first time the trophy was shared between Essex and Hampshire.
For 2009 the ten counties who contested the Championship were joined by eight others (Cheshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Cornwall) as well as a second team from Surrey, and the competition went nationwide with North, South, East and West regional groups. 2010 saw more Counties (Durham/Northumberland, Lincolnshire & Wales) joining making twenty one teams.
In 2011 a Midlands Group was added and the number of teams went up to twenty six with Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Middlesex and Gloucestershire joining.
2012 saw yet another expansion as a combined Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire team joined together with Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Lancashire entered but struggled with numbers so withdrew. In all there were now twenty nine teams representing thirty one counties. After the wettest season for years (114 group matches out of a scheduled 208 were postponed) Cheshire were once again worthy winners.
2013 was a much better year weather-wise but sadly Cornwall withdrew because the travelling distances proved too much for their small squad of players. However, Lancashire re-joined and took a full part in the Championship. New reorganised regional groups have been set up for 2016 to try and minimise travelling.
The first five years of the 60+ Championship were an exciting time with gradual development under the guidance of Barry Smith and since 2009 by a new committee with Martin Pearse at its chairman. Growth has spawned 60+ second XI and now a 70+ competition.
Early sponsors included Spitfire and Sheppard Neame. The current main sponsor is Seevent.
Visit the Seevent 60+ County Championship website by clicking here.