It seems fairly certain that cricket has been played at Wisborough Green for well over one hundred years, since approximately 1840. Unfortunately no records can be found before 1907 when Kirdford, Eberno and Horsham Grammar school were amongst clubs played.

In those days the club paid the umpire 3/- per match and also employed a useful player named Jesse Luxford at 5/- a match.

About this time, 1908 posts and chains were placed round a piece of ground handed by the Parish Council to the cricket club.

The first supper mentioned was at the Three Crowns in 1909 and also in that year a subscription was paid by the County club who were then starting a nursery.

1910 saw a scheme put forward by the club to improve the Recreation Ground and a sum of £3 was allocated for the purpose.

Litigation seems to have taken place over a claim for £2 2s. for a mirror broken in one of the bedrooms of Butts Villas, which are adjacent to the ground. No mention is made of the outcome.

This brings us up to the end of 1910, when Dr. F. N. Heygate retired from the Captaincy and Dr. R. B. Heygate as Honorary Secretary.

At a General Meeting in 1911, a Mr Pugsley who was the Workhouse Master, became Honorary Secretary but something went terribly wrong and there was no cricket that season.

At a General Meeting on April 2nd 1912, there is a minute proposed by Dr. R. B. Heygate and seconded by Mr. J. Pugsley: “that the club be restarted” and a new Secretary was elected by the name of Mr. J. Crosby with Dr. R. B. Heygate as Captain. The arrangements did not last long, as Mr. Crosbie resigned on the spot at a General Meeting in 1913. Someone passed a remark about the mismanagement of fixtures – and nothing on earth would persuade him to carry on. A youth of 16 – Mr F. O. Crawford – was elected secretary as witness the youthful writing in the minute book. That youth well remembered after the meeting hearing a Mr. W. Foice remark “a bloody fine lot of cricket we shall get this year with that bloke as Secretary”. But there was some cricket, in fact the fixture list increased to 12 matches. This arrangement survived until the 1914 – 1918 war, with Dr. R. B. Heygate as captain and Mr. Fred Grinstead as vice captain.
The club was re-started in 1919 with Mr. G. D. Hammond as Honorary Secretary and Mr. Fred Grinstead as Captain. He was also a wicket keeper of some merit and woe betides anyone who threw the ball wide of the stumps. The usual rejoinder was “if you can’t throw at the top of the stumps, throw at my bloody head, that’s big enough!” He, George Hammond and the Skinners did a lot in re-establishing the club after the war. About this time, a motor mower was purchased. Mr Hammond continued as Honorary Secretary until 1923 when that office was taken over by Messrs S. and E. Skinner. In the meantime in 1922 Dr. R.B. Heygate was again appointed Captain. He continued in that office until 1926 when he was succeeded by Mr. Stanley Skinner, with brother Ted as Honorary Secretary. In 1927 a second eleven was formed with Mr. D. Poat as Captain.

1928 saw the introduction of Sunday cricket. This was not easy to establish, but the club had the support of the Vicar, the Reverent G. H. Newton, provided matches were started at 1.00 pm and finished at 6.00 pm. In 1929 the members were presented with green and white caps at the instigation of Mr Hugh Miller in the Chair.

1930 saw the end of 7 years Secretarial work by E. Skinner and another period of office by George Hammond. In the meantime, the second eleven seems to have become defunct. Changes in Captaincy had taken place and in 1932, after so many years as President of the club, Dr. R. B. Heygate resigned and G. W. Gruggen was appointed.

From now on, probably the club had its most progressive period. Mr Hammond’s second spell as Honorary Secretary finished in 1935, and soon after Mr. H. K. Padwick took over. The playing strength was as strong as at any time with such players as George Pearce, Harry Medhurst, Doug Poat, Arthur Cheeseman, “Fee” Crawford, Morris Welford, Jesse Johnson, H. Padwick, Ted Skinner, Sid Green, Joe Pavey, Bernard McDonald etc. Centuries were being recorded and the attack was varied and sound. On the 18th of September 1937 Maurice Welford scored a club record 201 not out including 11 sixes, in a half day match at Plaistow. It is reputed that his opponents lost all their balls and he had to finish up using one of his own! The club went all out to improve the fixture list and people from a wide range came every weekend to support it. The collections taken on the ground added very considerably to the club’s finances.

At a General meeting in 1938, appears the following minute: It was proposed by Mr. F. O. Crawford and seconded by Mr. J. Johnson, “the club should make efforts to erect a Pavilion on the green.” Prior to this Mr. Padwick and Mr. Crawford had put out a few feelers and their biggest stroke of luck was to have the backing of the Chairman of the Parish Council, the late Mr. Sydney Carter. The late Mr. Harold Barlow offered to lend them £100 free of interest, which the club gratefully accepted and after vicissitudes innumerable, the tenacity of Messers. Padwick and Crawford prevailed and the building was erected in 1939. An extraordinary General meeting was held on June 26th 1939 and the second eleven got underway again, with Jim Cheeseman as Captain and E. Luckin Honorary Secretary and has been a valuable asset to the club ever since.

This brings us to the Second World War, during which the Pavilion was requisitioned. The rents accruing boosted the Club’s credit up to £80 10s. With £50 given them from the Gymkhana Club, it was able to reimburse Mr. Barlow. Mr. Padwick carried on until 1946, when he was succeeded by Norman Liverman.

The Captain seems to have remained the same. In fact during the fifty years under review, the Club has had four Presidents, seven Captains and fifteen Honorary Secretaries. Mr. Liverman was not with us for long, for in the following year Mr. Jack Gill took over, an energetic chap with some quite original ideas, but he did continue the improvements in the fixtures. By 1949, the business side of the Club has increased enormously and it was lucky to have the services of Mr. Charles Russell Q.C. as Honorary Treasurer. 1949 also saw a change in the Presidency; Mr. J. S. Chaundler accepted the office. The same year Richard Trestrail was Honorary Secretary, followed in 1950 by Mr. Gordon Pratt. In recent years the following gentlemen have successfully assisted as Honorary Secretary: Messers. Wellham, Welford, Rooke and Williams – both the latter coming to the rescue when it seemed almost impossible to fill the office. The most recent improvement is the erection of the clock on the Pavilion, an acquisition which will prove invaluable. With the growth of the Club, the administrative side was greatly increased. The two minute books are the same in size, but it took forty years to fill the first and ten to fill the second.

Of the present day team, one cannot speak too highly. Well led on the Saturdays by that very young cricketer, Laurie Cheesmen and on Sundays by Maurice Welford. The older players have maintained their form, and with good young players like Peter Vallis, Tony Puttock, Johnnie Mann, Fred Lee, David Hammond and the Coopers, the prospects for the future are very good.

In 1957, the Nawab of Pataudi played several times and scored two centuries, one of which was against the Junior Martletts. He is expected to play again next year.

To this point, this history of Wisborough Green Cricket Club was written by an anonymous author. The story is taken up by Mr. David Horsman, who has himself had a great deal to do with the club both as an administrator and a player.

After World War II, the fixture list was greatly strengthened by Peter Bellinger, the then landlord of the Three Crowns and the 2nd XI had nearly as many fixtures as the 1st team. Fee Crawford was succeeded as captain of the 1st XI by Maurice Welford, Dick Wilson, Laurie Cheesman and Doug Woods.

In 1961 a long series of Charity matches against the Lords Taverners began. Jim Laker of Surrey and England fame played in the first match, when the first ball was bowled by Katie Boyle. The Lords Taverners were captained by Peter Haigh, the well known broadcaster and raised thousands of pounds for local charities. This tradition of charity matches was re-established in 1980 when local resident, John Farmer formed the Wilting Willows.

Many big named celebrities, such as Harry Seacombe, Leslie Crawford, Jimmy Edwards, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Geoffrey Hughes, Derek Bell and Guy Harwood played in these games.

New young players emerged in the 60’s and 70’s particularly Graham Cheesman and Neil Trestrail. Neil went on to Horsham and has captained or managed many sides for the MCC.

In 1983, the club joined the Sussex Invitation League. This league has grown from an initial membership of 10 clubs in 1979 to 36 clubs in 2007. Wisborough Green Cricket Club has never won the First division but were second (beaten by one point) in 1995.

After several disappointing years, Wisborough Green gained promotion and will play in the 3rd division in 2007.

Wisborough Green were founder members of the North West Sussex Colts League, winning it in 1988 and 1989. This league has also grown immensely and has divisions at U16, U14, U12, U10 and U9; Wisborough Green has had sides in most divisions.

The club has produced many good players in its history, such as Laurie Cheesman, Dougie Poat, Fred Lee, Graham Cheesman, Neil Trestrail, John Grinstead, Pat Harrison and Peter Vallis who represented the club in no less than six decades. Len Cooper, Stan Brockhurst and Eddie Luckin were stalwarts of the 2nd XI in the 50’s and 60’s.

Apart from those mentioned above, there are many others who have contributed to the status and success of Wisborough Green Cricket Club; David Horsman has filled every position in the club (with the exception of Treasurer), Bob Bampton was Secretary, Fixture Secretary and tireless umpire and more recently Ken Vickery and Mike Longhurst have played their part for the club. Our recent Presidents John Self and Ray Greatorex have also made major recent contributions to the club in recent years.

It is now up to the next generation of young cricketers to write their names into the history annals of Wisborough Green Cricket Club. We wish them well, in the hope that a good quality of competitive cricket will be seen, on one of the finest cricket greens in the country, for years to come.

Addendum to the history of Wisborough Green Cricket Club –Steve Calder Smith

The history of Wisborough Green Cricket club for the last 100 years or so is covered by the information below that covers some of the more recent times, however it is highly likely that the club is significantly older than that and cricket has been played in Wisborough Green for hundreds of years.

Towards the end of 2015 I received communication from a cricket historian in Kent who had seen our web site history and commented on its lack of historic rigour. Ian Lambert forwarded verifiable information that showed that cricket had been played on the green at least as early as 1741. We celebrated the 275 anniversary of the event at a fund raising event last summer when a team captained by Philip de Freitas took on a Wizzy All Stars team.

The evidence was found in reports and cited in “State of Play” by David Underdown and refers to how the campaigning for the 1741 elections was somewhat impeded by a great cricket match being played on the green. “The Duke of Richmond was not always so successful in his efforts to use cricket to promote the Whig cause. There was a disappointing attendance at one election meeting in July 1741 because it coincided with a great cricket match at Wisborough Green.”

The same historian also informed me that in the parish of Wisborough Green there may have been as many as six or seven different pitches and perhaps the Bat and Ball indicates where one of them might be.

It is known that Sussex was at the forefront of cricket in the UK and there is a long association with cricket and stool ball. In one account of the development of cricket it is said that stool ball was a game that originated from dairymaids where the bat used was the paddle they used to make butter Dairymen who did not want to be left out played their own version of the game using the long wooden knife that was used to slice through the butter to drain it. It’s a nice story but whether this is true or not, who knows?

I was also informed by one sage in the village that John Arlott (for those younger than me perhaps the greatest cricket commentator that there has ever been) backed Wisborough Green to be where cricket originated in the UK, this would be some claim if this were true. The veracity of the statement was somewhat tempered by further extravagant claims made by this sage. It is true however that Wisborough Green has a longer and prouder history of cricket that the article below indicates with musicians, test captains from around the world and Indian princes all enjoying the unique pitch and surroundings.

I would be really keen for someone local to pick up the challenge and see what they can find. It will take the detective skills of Hercule Poirot to find the ultimate truth, but it would be great to find out more. And a little fable, myth and fiction woven into this history will only make it more interesting.

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