The History of Grantchester Cricket Part 1: “The Early Years”

The first definite record of cricket in Grantchester comes from 1843 when the Cambridge Independent Press (and when did we last have one of those?) reported that, “On Thursday 3rd August, Grantchester played Sawston” and, “stumps being pitched at 11.00 the game commenced”.  This is the earliest existing record but I think it’s reasonable to assume that if Grantchester were playing other villages in 1843, cricket must have been played in the village for some years.

The Sawston match itself was not without controversy (nothing changes) as “the bowling and fielding being too much for the Sawston players” the match ended somewhat abruptly when “the Sawston, not liking the appearance of the game, struck their colours and retreated in a manner not very pleasing to many old cricketers present, refusing to play out the game then, or at any time”. A curious decision as in a low scoring game Grantchester still needed 36 to win with 9 second innings wickets in hand. Fortunately “the Grantchester” as they were often called were able to console themselves with “an excellent dinner provided by Mr. C White at 6.30 p.m. of which 51 partook”.  A tradition to be revived perhaps?

Few details exist for the 1844 season but we know that on both the 13th and 20th June, Grantchester beat Melbourne. In the first match by 62 runs and in the second by 40. Both matches were played on a Thursday, as indeed were most of their matches at that time; perhaps this was a half day for the villagers of Grantchester?

There don’t appear to be any reports for the next few years but in 1849 there are records of five games, Grantchester winning at least two.  The match against Fulbourne was notable for the fact that, “dinner was then announced and after doing ample justice to it, the game was resumed by Grantchester going in (at this stage they were 35 behind on first innings) whether it was that the batsmen were ruminating on the excellent wine they had just been partaking or whether the strength of it had impaired their eyesight we cannot say, but this we can say, the innings was begun and ended in little more than half an hour……the last six men having been bowled out in less than eight balls” (Cambridge Chronicle 4th August 1849).

In future articles we will see how, on one occasion, “the shades of evening caused the game to terminate” and, incredible though it might seem, Grantchester “thought it beneath their dignity to play the Cambridge Britannia Club” !!!!!

N.G.L. Woods (Grantchester Cricket Club)

What follows are facsimile images of the original match reports. Please click on any image to enlarge:

Top: Grantchester v Sawston 1843 (Cambridge Independent Press 5th August 1843, p3).
Bottom: Introduction to return match Fulbourn v Grantchester 1849 (Cambridge Chronicle 4th August 1849)

Grantchester v Newport 1849 (Ch C. 7th July 1849)
Report and letters re Cambridge Britannia v Grantchester 1849 (CIP 15th September 1849)
Grantchester v Cambridge Britannia July 1850 (CIP 13th July 1850 p 3)
Cambridge Britannia v Grantchester return. (C Ch 14th September 1850 p2)
Grantchester v Cambridge Town and County Club 1851 (C Ch 27th September 1851)

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