Friday, 9 October 2009


I think the history of cricket might actually be more interesting than the game itself. The things you learn from poking around on the Internet. About three hours ago, I started out with the intention of researching some IPL data, and found myself reading about 'major cricket' in England back in the 1700s. Apparently my old stomping grounds of Croydon, Coulsdon and Caterham in Surrey have quite an interesting cricketing past.

"Caterham is first recorded as a major cricket team on Monday 21 September 1767 when it played Hambledon at Duppas Hill and was heavily beaten by 262 runs. The club's last major match in 1770 was also against Hambledon and they lost that by 57 runs. In all, Caterham's ten known matches ended in two wins, four defeats and four where the result is unknown."

"Coulsdon is first recorded as a major cricket team on Monday 8 May 1769 when a combined Coulsdon and Caterham team played All-England at Smitham Bottom in nearby Croydon. The result is unknown. The club's last known major match in 1777 was against Chertsey at Sevenoaks Vine and they lost that by 6 wickets. In most of Coulsdon's matches, the result is unknown, but the team did defeat Sussex in 1775."

"The original Croydon Cricket Club was one of the oldest in England and was prominent until the 1740s. It had a very strong team in the 1731 season when it defeated London four times. Croydon was interchangeable with Surrey as a county at that time. The club declined in the 1740s and was barely mentioned again after that except in a few minor matches. It looks as if the club disbanded in the latter half of the 18th century and has never been resurrected; the nearest modern equivalent seems to be Addiscombe Cricket Club in the Surrey Championship.

Duppas Hill is a park at Waddon, near Croydon, and has a long history of sport and recreation. It is thought to be named after a family called "Dubber" or "Double". It is said that jousting took place there in medieval times and a story goes that Lord William de Warenne was treacherously slain there during a joust in 1286. It was a major cricket venue in the 18th century and is believed to have been the venue for Croydon's 1707 match against London. It was certainly in use in 1731 when it is mentioned in H T Waghorn's Cricket Scores 1730-1773 and re two subsequent matches between Croydon and London. The last mention of Duppas Hill as a major venue is in 1767 when the nearby Caterham club, managed by Henry Rowett, played against Hambledon.

Duppas Hill was the site of the Croydon workhouse from 1726 until 1866. A public park was established there in 1865 and this became notable for public celebrations and firework displays. On the eve of the 1926 General Strike, it was the venue of a mass rally of trade unionists and workers. During the Second World War, it hosted a baseball match between American and Canadian soldiers. It remains a recreation area today and cricket is still played there."

Duppas Hill was where I played many football games back in the 70s and 80s. I never knew I was running around on such an historic site!

It seems that cricket has quite a past associated with gambling. On Monday 1st September 1718 London were playing Rochester when the Rochester players walked off in an attempt to have the game declared incomplete so that they would retain their stake money. London was clearly winning at the time. The London players sued for their winnings and the game while incomplete was the subject of a famous lawsuit where the terms of the wager were at issue. The court ordered it to be "played out" and this happened in July 1719. Rochester with 4 wickets standing needed 30 runs but were out for just 9.

Anyway, back to research after a very interesting distraction.

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