Queen Victoria, King Olav and the bizarre twist for Cromer FC

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:15 10 September 2010

Sarah Brealey

A north Norfolk football club could face eviction from its home of almost 90 years - because of the death of a Scandinavian king.

When King Olav V of Norway died on January 17 1991, the demise of "the people's king" sparked grief in his homeland.

A north Norfolk football club could face eviction from its home of almost 90 years - because of the death of a Scandinavian king.

When King Olav V of Norway died on January 17 1991, the demise of “the people's king” sparked grief in his homeland.

Eighteen years on, and Norway's loss is hitting home across the North Sea in the unlikely location of Cromer.

For when King Olav V died, he set the clock ticking on the lease for Cromer Town's home ground, Cabbell Park on Mill Road.

The ground was bequeathed to the people of Cromer by Evelyn Bond-Cabbell in 1922 as a memorial to the locals who lost their lives in the first world war.

The lease included an obscure clause that said it would run out 21 years after the death of Queen Victoria's last surviving grandchild.

King Olav V was that grandchild, which means the lease runs out on January 17 2012.

Now club officials are locked in negotiations with Mrs Bond-Cabbell's great-grandson, chairman of the Cabbell Park trustees and owner of Cromer Hall, Benjamin Cabbell-Manners.

The club is keen to stay at its home, but the two sides could be on collision course.

It is understood that Mr Cabbell-Manners wants to see Cabbell Park used more by and for the people of Cromer, which he said was his great-grandmother's wish when she bequeathed the land. He is believed to be keen to see Cromer Town and Cromer Youth FC working together.

Mr Cabbell-Manners said: “The trust disappears 21 years after King Olav's death. I can confirm that when the trust goes, the legal right for the football club to play at Cabbell Park goes with it.

“We will be looking at the wishes of my great-grandmother to see how it's taken forward.”

Mrs Bond-Cabbell bequeathed the land because she was concerned at mass unemployment in the town when young men returned from fighting in the first world war. At the same time, she gave a large sum of money to Cromer Hospital.

Mr Cabbell-Manners said: “She provided a sports field for all of Cromer to enjoy. Her wishes are paramount.”

He said he owned a large piece of land on Roughton Road on the edge of Cromer, and was hopeful that something could be done to transform it into a community sports facility, incorporating Cromer Town, Cromer Youth FC, hockey and other sports.

Cromer Town chairman Paul Jarvis said: “We have had preliminary discussions with the trustees and are aware of the piece of land on Roughton Road.

“Our position is that we would prefer to stay here, but if not, in order to see the continuation of the club we may have to move somewhere.”

He added that the club would be “more than happy to have closer links” with Cromer Youth, which has a host of teams which all play at grounds away from Cromer because of a lack of space in the town.

But he said any link would have to be “looked at very closely” if it meant the club losing its autonomy.

Dave Wiltshire, chairman of Cromer Youth, said: “I think the committee would be very positive towards a solution like this. We had a sub-committee that spent more than 10 years looking for a site for ourselves. In the end we ran out of options.

“But if some land were to be made available it would be great news.”

He said the club catered for up to 200 children from six to 16, with matches being played at North Walsham, Northrepps and East Runton.

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