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Janet hangs up her apron after 50 years of feeding cricketers

The final game of the 2022 season marked the end of an era at Driffield Town Cricket Club as one of the club’s longest partnerships was broken.

Saturday afternoons at Kings Mill Road won’t be quite the same next year after Janet Woodcock hung up her cricket teas apron for the last time.

After more than five decades of service providing Saturday afternoon provisions for generations of players in the clubhouse at Kings Mill Road, most of which were spent alongside sister-in-law Pam Woodcock, Janet has now decided to spend her weekends playing golf or watching sons Neil and Rob, and grandson Austin, on the cricket field.

Janet’s association with the teas at Driffield started in the early 1970s. During this period, food was purchased from LG Holmes on Victoria Road and Vera Stabler would cycle to the cricket club and serve one team at a cost to the club of £2 per game.

Janet and Pam Woodcock

It was around this time that wives and girlfriends of the players, including a young Janet, started to help with the teas and provided cakes and scones on a rota basis.

By 1976, with Vera unable to do the teas, the club decided that captains would organise someone to provide the food.

Janet’s husband Phil was the captain of the 1st XI at the time and she was assisted by Val Sharp, wife of vice-captain Chris, whilst Pam, the new secretary, worked alongside Beryl Drury to make the 2nd XI teas.

By 1978, the tea ladies were making a profit and two years later, Driffield formed a 3rd XI which meant two teams required teas every fortnight.

More changes came in 1991 when a 4th XI was established, meaning two home teams at Kings Mill Road every Saturday.

A rota was formed for wives, girlfriends, aunties, mothers and grandmothers, who were all rewarded at the end of the season when the cricket section provided the wine at the tea ladies’ meal.

Four years later, the club grew again and started to field five teams every Saturday.

This meant the 5th XI required teas at Driffield School, their home ground, and these were transported ‘meals on wheels’ style.

“I have been involved with cricket teas for over 50 years,” Janet told the Wolds Weekly.

“At first, it was when Mrs Stabler was poorly, so I helped out the odd week.

“Then I started doing it for the first team when they played at home and went away to watch them during alternate weeks.

“In those days, there were only two Saturday teams and it was Beryl Drury who made the second team teas.

“Then we had three teams, then four, closely followed by five, so we prepared two teas for the home sides and one was shipped up to the school for the fifth team.”

It was in the 1990s that Janet teamed up with Pam and the retiring partnership started preparing teas together every Saturday.

Janet and Pam Woodcock

Their legendary home-baked afternoon teas were not only enjoyed by the Driffield players, but the away teams and supporters.

Janet, Pam and the other ladies have prepared the teas voluntarily and have always handed over a donation to the club at the end of the season, a sum which now sits at four figures.

Over the years, the pair have served Yorkshire Under 19s players and coaches with a hot meal and cold tea during three-day fixtures and, towards the end of the most recent season, were visited by retired county coach Brian Lymbery, who popped into the clubhouse kitchen to see them.

In later years, as cricket matches were given the earlier start time of 12 noon, Janet and Pam have been in the kitchen from 11am to 6pm, long hours which are appreciated, as seen by the gifts and thanks they receive at the end of season cricket dinner.

“For the last 20 years or so, I have helped Pam do the teas every week of the season, but I must add that she does all the shopping – I just turn up and help,” said Janet.

“I have decided to hang up my apron, but have really enjoyed my Saturdays.

“I now intend watching cricket or playing golf.”

Pam told the Wolds Weekly how she and Janet have shared lots of happy memories, not just making cricket teas, but catering for numerous other events held at the Rec.

“The years have flown by and I thank Janet for being such a very special friend over these years,” said Pam.

“I have many memories of the weekends spent at the Rec preparing teas. Lots of friends have been made and there have been lots of laughs along the way.

“It’s been hard work, but enjoyable. Janet always helped me 100 per cent when I was secretary between 1976 and 2010 or when I have organised fundraisers at the Rec for the cricket section or the club.

“These include six-a-side cricket, barbecues, clay pigeon shoots, David Byas’ benefit match, sponsors luncheons, dances, quizzes, New Year’s Eve parties, family nights and gala days.

“Janet has done so much for the club. Whatever I ask of her, she has always helped and we both did it all whilst raising our families.”

So, with Janet taking a deserved retirement, what’s the future for Pam? She is on the lookout for new helpers, who will assist her as she looks towards semi-retirement and eventual retirement herself.

“I have yet to decide about my future making the teas,” she said. “I would like to perhaps carry on if some helpers come forward to assist and maybe even take it on as I would also like some Saturdays and Sundays watching the cricket.”

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