Crowhurst Cricket Club

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Part 1 - The early days of Crowhurst Cricket Club

Over the past few months I have put pen to paper and written a brief account of the history of Crowhurst Cricket Club. It has always been accepted that Crowhurst Cricket Club was formed in 1919 following World War One, this date being included on the Club’s logo and on fixture cards for many years. However, following research by a number of past and present players, earlier match reports involving a team of villagers from Crowhurst have come to light. The earliest of these can be found in an edition of the Sussex Express dated June 1894, which reports on a home match that took place between Crowhurst and Catsfield (who were formed 1799) on 2 June 1894. This being the first recorded local derby and a fixture that continues to this day. The report read as follows:

Crowhurst v Catsfield. A match between teams representing the above cricket clubs was played last Saturday at Crowhurst and ended in a victory for the visitors by 46 runs. Scores:-
W Sargent b Patterson   3
G Munn b Pont   26
G Deeprose b Hobden   28
C Sargent b Hobden   0
T Hyland b Hobden   0
A Hammond b Patterson   14
H Yielding c Godden b Hobden 3
C J Honisett b Patterson   10
T Ransom c and b Godden   3
C White not out   1
F Watson c Godden b Patterson 0
Extras     5
Total     102

C Durrant c W Sargent b Honisett 2
H Ewan c and b W Sargent   1
T Godden b Honisett   3
J Patterson c Hammond b W Sargent 3
W Hutchinson c Deeprose b Honisett 2
W Pont c Ransom b Deeprose 21
M Lambert b C Sargent   13
F Hobden b C Sargent   6
G Taylor not out   1
F Thomas b C Sargent   0
D Godden c W Sargtent b Honisett 0
Extras     4
Total     56

(Report courtesy of the Sussex Express June 1894)

Few reports can be found for this period, but one of interest is the earliest known fixture between the villagers of Crowhurst and Crowhurst Park, which was played on 28 May 1895 in the park grounds. A return match was held the following week on 4 June 1895. The then ‘lord of the manor’, Philip Oxenden Papillon enjoyed sport and the early Park team was built around his family with his four sons representing the side.

It was one of Philip Oxenden Papillon’s predecessors who formed Crowhurst Park Cricket Club in 1836 and early fixtures were played within the ‘Park’ gardens, near to the bowling green before moving to its present location.

Early home matches for the villagers were played at High House in a field loaned to them by the owners. The field is now a vine yard. Fixtures continued to be played there up until the outbreak of World War One, except for the interruption of the Boer War.

A report in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer states that Crowhurst played at home to a Battle team all with the surname of Parks on 31 August 1912. A majority of the Crowhurst team continued to play for the side after World War One and a return match was held on 13 August 1921. This time the ‘Parks’ team comprised of 8 brothers and 3 sons. Following the match both teams retired to the Plough Public House for a ‘smoking concert and drinks’.

So why does Crowhurst Cricket Club claim to be formed in 1919 when there are earlier newspaper reports proving that the villagers of Crowhurst were playing matches as early as 1894? A later report states that the club reformed in 1919. This would also support the theory that there must have been an earlier club. Whichever date you accept, it is fair to say that Crowhurst Cricket Club is the oldest sports club still running within the village, (unless you know otherwise).

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Part 2 - The club in the 1920's and 1930's

No reports of matches can be found for the duration of World War One, however it can not be taken for granted that the odd match did not take place and on 21 June 1919 it was reported in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer that a meeting was held at the Plough Public House to reform the club.

CRICKET CLUB REVIVED - The Crowhurst Cricket Club has been revived and a good deal of interest is being taken in it. The following officers have been appointed:- President. Lt Col P.R. Papillon D.S.O., D.L., J.P., Captain. Mr J Bye, Vice Captain. Mr N Lambrick, Secretary. Mr H Pont. Mr Lambrick has lent the club a field, which will be put in order after the haymaking. The club is in need of funds and it is hoped to hold a concert shortly to raise some of the necessary money.

(Report courtesy of The Hastings and St Leonards Observer 21 June 1919)

Other reports indicate that land at South Brooks Meadow, part of the present recreation ground, was leased to the club by Mr Lambrick. A new home had been found and for many years the ‘square’ was roped off and kept cut, with the farmer's sheep keeping the outfield eaten short. This is confirmed by an early photograph of the period. Water was also brought from the stream by bucket during dry periods in an attempt to keep the ‘square’ green.

Following preparation work on the ground the first match took place on 26 July 1919 between Crowhurst and The Observer, which resulted in defect by 12 runs for the home side. Other matches were played, with a majority of them being at home and the season concluded with the following analysis:

Played 7 Won 3 Lost 4

Later that year the end of season supper took place at the Plough Public House and it was reported that club funds stood at £2 16s.

The club continued to prosper and in 1925 & 1926 Crowhurst fielded two teams, but by 1928 (the date of the earliest known surviving scorebook) the club was in decline with only one team.

Transport to many early games was by an open top bus owned by the then chairman Hugh Carrington. On the few occasions he was not available, players would travel by taxi, train or even cycle. It was fortunate that they did not have the equipment we use today or play as far a field!

A small collection of photographs exist from this period, with a selection of them being displayed in the pavilion. The oldest of these dates from the 1930 season.

The ground continued to be loaned/leased until 1936 when it was purchased by the parish for £400.00, with a majority (£304.00) being raised by the villager’s own efforts. The land was purchased with the proviso that the three appointed trustees would inshore that it was used in perpetuity as a recreation ground.

Hugh Carrington, chairman of the committee to purchase the recreation ground, along with his committee planned to name the ground in honour of the King's silver jubilee, but George V died on 20 January 1936 before reaching this milestone. It was therefore decided to turn it into a memorial to his memory. The Sussex Express dedicated a complete page on 3 July 1936 to the opening of the King George V Playing Field. Many local dignitaries attended the opening ceremony on 27 June 1936 and the ground was officially opened by Arthur Gilligan, the former Sussex and England captain who represented his country on 11 occasions. Following the opening ceremony, a match was held between Crowhurst and The Grove, a team from Hooe. A fete was held on the football pitch to raise club funds.

Later that year on 11 December 1936 the new King, Edwards VIII abdicated and was succeeded by his younger brother who became George VI. At a later date the recreation ground was renamed the George VI Recreation Ground and at present I have been unable to find an explanation as to why. Can you help?

Fund raising continued and in 1939 a new pavilion was commissioned. Mr AE Goodsell a well-known local builder was contracted on 17 August 1939 by the Recreation Ground Trustees, with financial assistance of the Council to carry out the work. It replaced the original one that stood on the other side of the river. In previous years when a wicket fell or between innings, players would have to cross by a wooden plank. It brings a whole new meaning to ‘walking the plank’!

Crowhurst Cricket Club is interested in expanding its collection of cricket related photographs. If you have any old photographs please contact me and I can arrange for them to be copied.

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Part 3 - The Club between 1940 and 1980

With the outbreak of World War Two few matches were played, but the veterans of Crowhurst played Crowhurst Park in a friendly at home on 10 August 1940. It received extensive coverage in the Evening Argus on 12 August 1940, were it was reported that the match was played between the veterans of both sides, as the regular players were away on active service.

Another event that year was the death of the man responsible for re-forming Crowhurst Cricket Club after World War One, Lt Col P.R. Papillon D.S.O., D.L., J.P. His departure in part led to the break up of the Crowhurst Park estate. The Manor House, 338 acres, farms and cottages were sold in two lots by auction in 1942 and 1944. The ancient farms of Holmes, Little Holmes, Cotters, Blackman and Collins that have all since vanished from the map, leaving only Park farm still running today. The families’ large estate in Lexden, Essex remained within the family and was purchased by his brother Harold.

Towards the latter part of the War the recreation ground area was in the news for another reason, a German bomb dropped late one Saturday afternoon had killed three and seriously injured two others. Nelson Bodle, an off duty member of the armed forces and cricket regular of the period sustained minor injuries. A full report of this 23 October 1943 incident was published recently in November 2003’s edition of the Crowhurst News.

Following the ceasefire play recommenced on a more regular basis and a full fixture list was in place for the 1946 season.

As with most organisations there is occasional friction between individuals and Crowhurst Cricket Club is no exception to this rule and in the early 1950’s the team split in two, with the official club and a breakaway club who were called the Extras. During a weekend of the 1953 season both teams played a home fixture on the same day. The official club used the cricket pitch and the Extras used the football pitch. It must have been interesting at teatime! The rift was finally healed at the end of the 1956 season and this lead to a problem with team selection the following year. The solution was to hold selection meetings on a Thursday evening in the Plough Public House.

On 4 September 1960 Herbert Leslie Jackson, Derbyshire and England fast bowler became the only Test player to represent Crowhurst. He guested for the side away to Hartley Country Club CC and took 7 for 26. Herbert played for England twice, once in the Third Test against New Zealand in 1949 and then not again until the Third Test against Australia in 1961. In his two Test appearances Herbert took 7 wickets at an average of 22.14 each. He also scored 15 runs and took one catch. Did his performance for Crowhurst impress the England selectors enough to justify his recall! Reverend Stuart, another regular of the period had also once played cricket at county level before joining Crowhurst.

During the Mid 1970’s work was carried out on the ground to improve facilities. The outfield was mole drained and a concrete practice wicket was constructed. The latter was surrounded by a newly purchased practice net and covered by coconut matting during practice sessions. These new facilities encouraged the youth of the village to get more involved and the club ran a youth team for the 1977-79 seasons. This was a great success and in 1978 they joined the newly formed Hastings and District Youth Cricket League. Results were good and the end of season analysis was as follows:

Played 8 Won 6 Lost 2

On 28 July 1979 Crowhurst played Southern Television in a charity match at the George VI Recreation Ground to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the club in its current form. The following year they participated in a weekend tour for the first time in the clubs history and played a return fixture on the well-known Hambledon ground. A second game was also arranged against Lymington, both in the New Forest area.

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Part 4 - The Club in the 1980's and 1990's

The early 1980’s saw a decline in club membership and matches due to the retirement or moving away of many senior players. This continued for a few years but by the late 1980’s club membership begun to increase and by the new decade they were playing in excess of 40 matches per season.

Overall standards at the club continued to improve year by year and by the early 1990’s Crowhurst saw success in the ‘limited over’ evening competition. The Ward Cup for junior sides was won in 1994 and 1998 and the Observer Cup for senior sides was won in 1995 and 1996. This was the first time that a side had retained the senior cup for many years. The club were runners up in 1997 and 1999. Success was also achieved indoors during the winter of 1998 when the Ken Turnball Trophy was won for the first time following the disappointment of coming second twice previously. A great achievement given that Crowhurst Cricket Club is a small friendly village team competing against town teams with a much larger player base.

1995 will be remembered for the visit of Rotterdam DL Cricket Club. They were the first overseas team to play at the George VI Recreation Ground. Rotterdam DL contained many players of league standard with a few ‘one day’ internationals. A competitive game followed and ‘refreshments’ were taken at the Plough Public House after the game.

Two years later Crowhurst toured for the first time in many years when they visited the West Country for a long weekend. Bad weather restricted the number of games possible. In subsequent years the club has merged with Hastings and Bexhill Rugby Club and toured under the name of ‘The Sussex Strugglers’. Three fixtures are held over a long weekend in the Basingstoke area.

Looking back, if you accept the evidence of the first match report from the Sussex Express dated June 1894, which reported on a match that took place between the villagers of Crowhurst and Catsfield on 2 June 1894, this year will be the 110th anniversary of the club. To co-inside with this anniversary a home fixture will be played against Catsfield on the nearest Saturday, 5th June 2004. Other early season friendlies will be:

  • 8 May Matfield Green (Home)
  • 9 May Netherfield (Away)
  • 15 May Hastings and Bexhill Rugby Club (Home)
  • 16 May Robertsbridge (Home)
  • 22 May Dymchurch (Away)
  • 23 May Pett (Home)
  • 29 May Hawkinge (Away)
  • 30 May Mountfield (Away) All matches commence at 2.30pm.

Crowhurst Cricket Club continues to be at the centre of the community and would welcome new players for friendly or competitive cricket. All you need is to be keen. Age and ability offer no restriction. If you would be interested in getting involved, either as a player or in any other capacity then please contact any member of the club. Additional fixtures can be arranged if we are able to increase our playing membership.

Finally, I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped me with the writing of this series of articles, especially the authors of the 1979 Special Match Programme to commemorate the 60th Anniversary, Paul Humphries and the late Jock Willis.

Kevin Cornwell
01424 812092

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