The History of Grantchester Cricket Part II: 1850 – 1870

In the first part of this occasional series we looked at Grantchester Cricket in the 1840’s and saw an established club playing regular fixtures against nearby villages and town sides. In addition the newspaper reports of the time tell of abandoned matches, “an excellent dinner of which 51 partook” and a suggestion that the Grantchester players may have been slightly “overrefreshed” when they lost six wickets for 8 runs to Fulbourne (1849).  Now read on…………….

Records for the 1850s and 60s are scarce but we know that “The Grantchester” continued to play; whether on an occasional or regular basis we cannot tell but there are hints in the surviving reports that Grantchester were a well regarded side. At this time there were no leagues and all games were deemed “friendly”.

In July 1850 Grantchester took on the Cambridge Britannia Club. From available newspaper reports it appears that this was intended to be a “home and home” fixture,  what we might call today a double header, both matches to be played on Parker’s Piece. It seems likely the there may have been something of an “edge” to this fixture as the previous season’s match was cancelled as Grantchester, according to newspaper reports felt it, “beneath their dignity”.

The Britannia won the first game thanks, it would seem, to an early version of the Duckworth Lewis Method. At the close of play (as the newspaper report puts it, “the shades of evening”), Grantchester were 25 for 4 chasing a target of 113. It had been agreed before the start that if the game could not be played to a finish it would be decided on first innings scores: Cambridge Britannia 109, Grantchester 85. The result of the second match was more straightforward, The Britannia winning by an innings and 68 runs.

Also in 1850 the Grantchester played Chesterford; slow over rates were obviously not an issue in those days as there was time for a two innings match (Grantchester losing by 7 wickets) followed by a single innings match. Grantchester scoring 104 in the second match, “thereby somewhat redeeming the credit of their club”. (Cambridge Independent Press 10th August 1850).

September 1851 saw Grantchester play “Cambridge Town and County Club”. The Cambridge Chronicle of September that year says that “the Old Grantchester Club” were “deprived of one of their crack players” – a feeling all too familiar to club cricketers today. Perhaps this is the reason Grantchester lost by 264 runs? Cambridge Town and County were also seemingly a better side than Grantchester usually played; they included in their side one F.P. Fenner (yes, that Fenner) and Daniel Hayward whose son Tom played 35 tests for England between 1896 and 1909.

By 1863 The Grantchester had lowered their sights and early May saw them up against the combined might of “Llandaff House and The Perse” (Llandaff House was the home of the University Catholic Chaplaincy); Grantchester winning by 9 runs. This match was noteworthy for “several good hits” with one P.H.Smith managing to hit a 7 and a 5 in his innings of 25.

There are two surviving reports of matches played in 1864. On 2nd August at Royston Heath Grantchester scored 112 to beat Royston Amateurs by 26 runs and a week later at the Jesus College ground defeated Jesus Long Vacation by 4 runs.

Grantchester has a rich cricketing history and we are very keen to build on this.  Our new ground is rapidly taking shape and we play our first home match on 20th May.  All are very welcome.

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

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