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Liz Gilding and Jenny Pennell

In the 1930s Mattishall Football Club played free of charge on Billy Turner’s meadow in Welgate, now Willow Close. After the 2nd World War some wooden huts that were on the corner of Welgate and belonged to George Hurren were pulled down and erected for use as changing rooms. There was a slope on the pitch and if you were kicking the ball down the slope it was likely to go over the goal. There were several village teams around Dereham that the Mattishall team played against, using a coach for transport to the away matches. In the early 1930s the village team was very good and on one occasion they scored 30 goals in two weeks. They won 16 - 0 against Swanton Morley one week and then 14 - 2 against Mileham the next. Wiggy Pease from Dereham used to referee for the Mattishall team as well as Risho Williamson.

Cricket matches used to be played on various meadows. In the 1920s and 30s matches were played on Faircloths meadow with teas at The Swan. During the war they played on Hills meadow moving towards the end of the war to The Black Meadow (where Greggs Close is now). It was also mentioned that the team played at Poplar Farm and in the 1940s and 50s on a meadow belonging to the Harrison family at Old Hall Road. The village team used to visit other teams to play matches in and around Dereham. Mr. Eastell, the chauffeur to Dr. Williams, was a very good cricketer and used to be opening batsman.

During the late 1950s it became obvious that the meadow would be wanted for building so Ron Farrow was approached and he rented the club 5 acres of land at South Green for £1.00 per annum for use as a cricket pitch.

Later it became clear the football pitch was to be developed on so Ron Farrow was approached once again and he agreed to sell an adjoining piece of land to the cricket pitch to the football club for £800.00, at the same time selling the original land to the cricket club for £1.00 and so the two pieces of land became the present playing field. There was an electricity pole in the middle of the field and after negotiations this was moved and the field bulldozed over. Whilst doing this a deep brick lined well was exposed which was eventually filled with soil. It appears that many years ago there was a house on the site and the well was in the back garden. Some old apple trees were pulled out and the pavilion erected, being opened in 1971.

Bowls was also played on the green behind the Ringers from about 1926 until the 1970s.. There was also a bowling green opposite the cemetery and at the back of the vicarage.

Tennis used to be played at Welborne Rectory. William Norton’s mother had a tennis court on land at Dereham Road, about where numbers 115 - 119 are now. They also had a bowling green. There was a building known as The Pavilion on the land, this being moved to The Laurels in future years.

Darts were played at the various public houses. The team at The Swan just after the Second World War was part of the Lyng and District League. Dominoes, Shove happeny, crib etc. were played in the public houses.

A travelling fair used to visit Turner’s meadow in Welgate once a year the villagers having to pay for rides.There was also a travelling fair on Gray’s meadow (this would have been Gay's meadow as Reginald Sparke Gay was faming in this area at the time) occasionally with roundabouts, swings, darts, roll-a-penny etc.

Village fetes were held at various sites, including the British Legion fete on Faircloths meadow in July usually. This was known to continue until 10.00 o’clock at night. In the summer Church fetes were held on the Black Meadow (where Greggs Close is now). There were stalls, coconut shies and also a greasy pole over a pit filled with water that the villagers used to try and cross without falling off. They also sat astride the pole with sacks of straw and tried to ‘pillow fight’ each other off. Sometimes the pole was placed upright and you had to try to climb to the top.

The Gant fair was generally held on Charlie Fisher’s meadow opposite the Ringers, and they used to bring in dodgem cars, etc. The last time they came was in 1964. Sometimes the Gant was held in the Swan Yard and children were given a ‘Gant sixpence’ to spend.

There was a stream at the bottom of the village at Clippings Green where the boys fished using jam jars. Between No. 32 Dereham Road and what is now called Breewood Cottage there was a moat which was a natural watercourse from Garvestone. This became a waterfall after heavy rain, and the stream became wide enough to float a small boat in it.

At South Green, down the track to the right off Doctors Road (New Lane) were the brick pits and these used to freeze over so the villagers could skate on them.

In the evenings dances were held at the Oddfellows Hall which was built in 1911 on the corner of Burgh Lane and Dereham Road. Dances were also held at Welborne Rectory and at Honingham. At the Oddfellows Hall there was occasionally a band for dancing and a Mr. and Mrs. Ladbrook from Honingham used to play the dulcimer and piano. During the Second World War the Americans from Weston Airfield used to cycle to the hall to attend the dances which were then held each Saturday night and always very well attended.

The ‘Electric Cinema’ was operated from Oddfellows Hall about twice a week in the 1920s. Mr. Fickling came from Watton with an old steam engine which worked the projection equipment. There was a screen up one end of the hall and seating for 70 or 80 people. Silent films were shown such as Charlie Chaplin.

There was also an Alf Warminger that came from Norwich in the 1920s/1930s to show films.

There were also concert parties who visited the village quite regularly, Harry Lambert, Norman Abbott and Les Everitt came with the ‘Odds and Ends’ concert party from Dereham, (they always sang ‘Delia’ as part of the programme). Another member of the party was Harry Faux and his Chalks (he had a big blackboard with sheets hanging over the back and he would do quick sketches, then bring another sheet over) and Buster Newell, a postman was the comedian. Mr. Lambert owned a furniture store in Dereham and he and his wife together with others used to entertain the surrounding villages. There was also an entertainment group know as ‘Values Concert Party’ who consisted of father, mother, daughter and son-in-law. They were called the ‘Values’ because the father’s name was Valentine Hughes. They would put on three or four shows a week, all different. Mrs. Hughes was the pianist and after the entertainment the chairs were cleared away and there would be a dance.

Magicians and Old Tyme music acts used to visit and the entrance charge was a silver threepenny piece.

The hall was later sold to St. Johns despite the village committee putting in an offer of £600.00 to buy it. The hall was demolished in the mid 1970s.

Before the First World War there used to be Chapel outings to the Ringland Hills for which Mr. Farrow supplied the transport. He used to take the children by steam engine pulling timber drugs (heavy carts used to transport trees) with a plank of wood on top which the children sat on. The children always ended up covered in soot as the engine let out clouds of smoke when going uphill.

In the early 1920s Norwich City Football Club played at ‘The Nest’ (nicknamed the Chicken Run) in Rosary Road. Villagers went by ‘bus getting off at Bank Plain and then going across Pulls Ferry (the fare was 1d.).

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